The question in this context asks us to suggest a suitable rewrite for the underlined portion of the sentence [6]. That portion is numbered 29 and I've indicated it through an arrow. On the right you've to choose between four alternatives, the first option (not shown in picture) being "NO CHANGE" - indicating the current sentence as it stands is correct. The other three options are shown in the image.

I incorrectly chose C; while the machine says B is correct.

enter image description here question courtesy KhanAcademy; the explanations below the options were unhelpful for me

According to what english I've learnt, the sentence "Take Bartlett pears for instance, unless ... time, they will..." creates a continuous tone of words (Take Bartlett pears for instance) - as I would speak it naturally - before the first comma, then separates off the "unless" block between two commas, then carries on the last phrase. This appears to be a more continuous and natural structure to me.

The option B - indicated as correct - results in "Take Bartlett pears, for instance: unless ... time, they will..." - which not only creates a pause midway through an incomplete phrase (There's a sudden pause after "Take Bartlett pears"), but also surrounds the "unless" block with a colon on the left and a comma on the right, which should not be correct imo.

I hope I've been as detailed as possible in explaining my problems and I hope someone can give back an as detailed answer explaining what exactly is/are wrong in my train of thought.

  • Please comment to request for clarification. Thank you! Sep 9, 2017 at 5:26

1 Answer 1


Another case of an English exam question exploiting trivial and often apocryphal grammar rules to make students' lives miserable.

In this example, the "take ... for instance" is redundant. In a properly constructed sentence with good English writing style, use one or the other, but not both.

Take Bartlett pears. They are golden, they are juicy, and they are sweet.

Bartlett pears, for instance, are golden, juicy, and sweet.

Of course the correct answer is not one of the answers given, so, personally, I would toss out the entire test as unreliable.

If I am forced to use "take ... for instance", this is how I would have written it:

Take Bartlett pears, for instance. Unless they are treated with ...

I would not use a semicolon. I would not use a colon. I would use a full stop as a way to iterate the logical steps of my example.

I suppose it's possible to use a colon here, but it's hardly necessary to do so. Also, if I were to use the colon, I would *definitely get rid of "for instance" as excess verbiage.

Take Bartlett pears: unless they are treated with ...

In other words: the given answer is flat-out wrong, and you can tell Khan Academy I said so.

  • Thank you! Yes, I understand your point that the "take ... for instance" is redundant. I'll accept your answer within a week provided there's no better answers. Sep 9, 2017 at 15:49

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