PSAT Writing : Correcting Conventional and Idiomatic Usage Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Correcting Conventional And Idiomatic Usage 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.

All candidates are required to pay the entry fee irregardless of their financial situations.

Possible Answers:

regardless of their financial situations

irregardless of their financial situation

regardless of their financial situation

irregardless of there financial situations

irregardless of their financial situations

Correct answer:

regardless of their financial situations

Explanation:

Though the term “irregardless” is sometimes heard in colloquial speech, it is not a grammatically correct word. The correct word is “regardless,” which means irrespective or nonetheless. Since we are talking about multiple candidates (plural), it must read “their financial situations.” 

Example Question #2 : Correcting Conventional And Idiomatic Usage 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.

Despite the professor’s chidings, the students continued to conversate during the science lecture.

Possible Answers:

to be conversating during the science lecture

to converse during the science lecture

to conversate during the science lecture

conversating during the science lecture

conversing during the science lecture

Correct answer:

to converse during the science lecture

Explanation:

The correct verb is “to converse,” and the noun is “conversation.” “Conversing” is an incorrect gerund use.

Example Question #3 : Correcting Conventional And Idiomatic Usage 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.

I would of gone to the supermarket had I remembered we need groceries.

Possible Answers:

I would of gone

I would have gone

I would had gone

I could of gone

I would of went

Correct answer:

I would have gone

Explanation:

“Would of” is not a grammatically correct; it should be changed to “would have.”

Example Question #387 : Usage 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.

The snob woman looked down on the slovenly young man, who always dressed in a disheveled manner.

Possible Answers:

The snob woman looks down on the slovenly young man

The snobby woman looked down on the slovenly young man

The snob woman looking down on the slovenly young man

The snob woman looked down to the slovenly young man

The snob woman looked down on the slovenly young man

Correct answer:

The snobby woman looked down on the slovenly young man

Explanation:

The use of "snob" as an adjective in this sentence is incorrect, as "snob" is a noun and cannot properly modify "woman." The word needs to be changed to an adjectival form. "The snobby woman looked down on the slovenly young man" is the only answer choice to appropriately use an adjective.

Example Question #4 : Correcting Conventional And Idiomatic Usage 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.

Many people adore Indian cuisine because it contains a variety of ingredients, as well as alot of different spices.

Possible Answers:

while also containing alot of different spices

while also containing a lot of different spices

while at the same time a lot of different spices

as well as alot of different spices

as well as a lot of different spices

Correct answer:

as well as a lot of different spices

Explanation:

“A lot” is two separate words. The phrases “while also” and “while at the same time” are unnecessarily redundant.

Example Question #5 : Correcting Conventional And Idiomatic Usage 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.

I learned a lot from the woman that I talked to.

Possible Answers:

I learned a lot from the woman who I talked to.

I would learn a lot from the woman that I had talked to.

I learned a lot from the woman whom I talked to.

I learned a lot from the woman to whom I talked.

I learned a lot from the woman that I talked to.

Correct answer:

I learned a lot from the woman to whom I talked.

Explanation:

We do not end a sentence with a preposition. Also, we use the pronoun "whom" when a person is the object of the verb. Here, the woman is the object of the verb "talked".

Example Question #5 : Correcting Conventional And Idiomatic Usage 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.

No matter how hard I concentrated on the question, the solution to it kept alluding me.

Possible Answers:

the solution was keeping allusive.

the solution was kept elusive.

alluding me was the solution to it.

the solution to it kept alluding me.

the solution to it kept eluding me.

Correct answer:

the solution to it kept eluding me.

Explanation:

This question deals with incorrect word choice. The correct word is elude, which means to stay out of reach. Allude means to indirectly refer to something.

Example Question #7 : Correcting Conventional And Idiomatic Usage Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

The jury, despite hours of deliberation, is not able to resolve the issue; in the end, they cannot determine whose resposible for the crime. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

issue; in the end

deliberation, is

jury, despite

determine whose

Correct answer:

determine whose

Explanation:

"Who is" and "who's" is not interchangeable with "whose": here the correct sentence is: "they cannot determine who is (who's) respsonsible ..."

Example Question #6 : Correcting Conventional And Idiomatic Usage Errors

The two campaigns became certain the election was so close election night would not feature a definite result.

Possible Answers:

was closely

was so close

was so close that

was too close

was close

Correct answer:

was so close that

Explanation:

The key problem with the sentence is that the portion after the underlined part has to be introduced by a pronoun introducing the relative clause "election night would not feature a definite result." "Was so close that" is the only choice among the answers featuring such a word.

Example Question #6 : Correcting Conventional And Idiomatic Usage 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.

What is most importantest in life is having love, health, and happiness in personal relationships.

Possible Answers:

most important

most importantly

more importanter

importantest

most importantest

Correct answer:

most important

Explanation:

"Importantest" is not a word, and is an incorrect superlative form. The proper superlative form of "important" is "most important," which is the correct answer choice.

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