This is an official practice question for the SAT Reasoning Test:
Along the curve of islands known as the Florida Keys lies a reef of living coral, the only one of a kind in the continental United States. No error.
Instructions for this section:
The following sentences test your ability to recognize grammar and usage errors. Each sentence contains either a single error or no error at all. No sentence contains more than one error. The error, if there is one, is underlined and lettered [I just made the relevant section bold]. If the sentence contains an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct. If the sentence is correct, select choice E. In choosing answers, follow the requirements of standard written English.
Think hard . . . answer:
D (a kind).
Obviously, in order to be idiomatic, the only one of a kind is incorrect. Our choices are:
- the only one of its kind (presumably the implied correction)
- one of a kind
Now, normally when ETS wants you to honor a different part of a sentence, it's not going to be up for grabs (it won't be highlighted as an answer choice). If possibility 1 in this disjunction were the absolute right answer, we'd have expected the to be outside of answer choice "C" (the only one).
My highly educated teacher said that if it were his test, he'd go change the answer, but it's College Board's, and I'd just have to *deal with it.
With all the English you know, how could you possibly justify choice 1 over choice 2?
- You see, I have no choice as a high school student to submit to the test's standards. My best explanation is that, even though the two choices are nearly semantically equivalent, the first might have been seen as closer to the original intention (though technically whatever original intention was equivocal).
Are both technically correct?
- Maybe I'll bring it up to College Board.