PSAT Writing : Correcting Appositive Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Correcting Appositive Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Jimmy was afraid that Butch the biggest bully in school wanted to fight him on the playground; Jimmy did not have a death wish!

Possible Answers:

Jimmy was afraid that Butch, the biggest bully in school wanted to fight him on the playground; Jimmy did not have a death wish!

Jimmy, was afraid that Butch, the biggest bully in school wanted to fight him on the playground; Jimmy did not have a death wish!

Jimmy was afraid that Butch, the biggest bully in school, wanted to fight him on the playground; Jimmy did not have a death wish!

Jimmy was afraid that Butch the biggest bully in school, wanted to fight him on the playground; Jimmy did not have a death wish!

Jimmy was afraid that Butch the biggest bully in school wanted to fight him on the playground; Jimmy did not have a death wish!

Correct answer:

Jimmy was afraid that Butch, the biggest bully in school, wanted to fight him on the playground; Jimmy did not have a death wish!

Explanation:

An appositive phrase sits next to a noun and renames it. An appositive phrase is surrounded by commas, and the sentence would still be grammatically correct if it were taken out. Because the appositive phrase "the biggest bully in school" renames "Butch" it should have a comma at the beginning and a comma at the end, making the correct sentence "Jimmy was afraid that Butch, the biggest bully in school, wanted to fight him on the playground; Jimmy did not have a death wish!" Note that while a period would not be incorrect in this instance, the exclamation point is also, technically, grammatically correct, and also note that a semicolon is correctly used to connect two independent clauses.

Example Question #2 : Correcting Appositive Errors

Select the option that best replaces the underlined word or phrase. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. one of the leading activists in America's Civil Rights Movement delivered, speeches that continue to inspire listeners more than 40 years later. 

Possible Answers:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the leading activists in America's Civil Rights Movement delivered, speeches that continue to inspire listeners more than 40 years later. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the leading activists in America's Civil Rights Movement, delivered speeches that continue to inspire listeners more than 40 years later. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. one of the leading activists in America's Civil Rights Movement delivered speeches that continue to inspire listeners more than 40 years later. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. one of the leading activists in America's Civil Rights Movement delivered, speeches that continue to inspire listeners more than 40 years later. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the leading activists in America's Civil Rights Movement delivered speeches that continue to inspire listeners more than 40 years later. 

Correct answer:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the leading activists in America's Civil Rights Movement, delivered speeches that continue to inspire listeners more than 40 years later. 

Explanation:

An appositive phrase sits next to a noun and renames it. An appositive phrase is surrounded by commas, and the sentence would still be grammatically correct if it were taken out. Because the appositive phrase "one of the leading activists in America's Civil Rights Movement" renames "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.," it should have a comma at the beginning and a comma at the end, making the correct sentence "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the leading activists in America's Civil Rights Movement, delivered speeches that continue to inspire listeners more than 40 years later." In the example sentence, the comma was incorrectly placed after a word that was not a part of the appositive phrase.

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