PSAT Writing : Correcting Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Correcting Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

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.

Mexico is known for growing large quantities of mangos, but that isn’t its primary export.

Possible Answers:

but that isn’t their primary export

but that isn’t its primary export

but that isn’t it’s primary export

but that isn’t its primary export, however

but that isn’t Mexicos’ primary export

Correct answer:

but that isn’t its primary export

Explanation:

Since Mexico is a country (a thing), the possessive would be “its.” “It’s” (with an apostrophe) is a contraction of “it is.” The word “however” is redundant because “but” has the same meaning.

Example Question #2 : Correcting Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

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.

Karla and Kimberly are supposedly much more athletic than they’re older siblings.

Possible Answers:

than their older siblings

than they’re older siblings

then they’re older siblings

than there older siblings

then their older siblings

Correct answer:

than their older siblings

Explanation:

“Than” is used for comparison, while “then” means next in a sequence. The possessive of third person plural is “their.” “They’re” is the contraction of “they are,” and “there” is a place.

Example Question #3 : Correcting Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

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 meteorology professor asked her students to record the causes and affects of Hurricane Sandy.

Possible Answers:

The Meteorology Professor asked her students to record the causes and effects of Hurricane Sandy.

The meteorology professor asked her students to record the causes and affects of Hurricane Sandy.

The meteorology professor asked her students to record the causes and effects of Hurricane Sandy.

The meteorology professor asked their students to record the causes of effects of Hurricane Sandy. 

The Meteorology Professor asked her students to record the causes and affects of Hurricane Sandy.

Correct answer:

The meteorology professor asked her students to record the causes and effects of Hurricane Sandy.

Explanation:

“Effects” is the noun “effect” in its plural form (e.g., the aftermath). “Affects,” by contrast, is from the verb “to affect” (e.g., to influence). “Meteorology Professor” does not need to be capitalized because it is not the official title of the person.

Example Question #43 : Other 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.

The rain has a big affect on his mood.

Possible Answers:

The rain has a big effect on his mood.

On his mood, the rain is largely effecting.

(No changes to original.)

The rain affects his mood.

His mood has a big affect on the rain.

Correct answer:

The rain has a big effect on his mood.

Explanation:

Here, we need the noun “effect,” not the verb “affect.”

Example Question #4 : Correcting Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

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.

Many New Yorkers had no choice but to evacuate the area because of the imminent danger of the approaching snow storm.

Possible Answers:

because of the imminent danger of the approaching snow storm.

because of the eminent danger of the approaching snow storm.

because of the imminent danger of the approaching snowstorm.

because of the imminent danger from the approaching snow storm.

because of the eminent danger from the approaching snowstorm.

Correct answer:

because of the imminent danger of the approaching snowstorm.

Explanation:

“Imminent” means threatening or looming, while “eminent” means well-known or famous. Also, “snowstorm” is a compound word (two words put together).

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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

The car was determined to be the one which was used in the robbery.

Possible Answers:

the one which was used in the robbery

that was used in the robbery.

which was used in the robbery.

the one having been used in the robbery.

that which was used in the robbery.

Correct answer:

the one which was used in the robbery

Explanation:

While the underlined phrase is a bit convoluted, the phrase is fully grammatically correct. Either "that" or "which" would be appropriate in the sentence, but using both or futher modifying the phrase makes it confusing and unclear. 

Example Question #2051 : Correcting Grammatical 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.

In order to decrease scrutiny, the organization began holding all there press conferences in secret.

Possible Answers:

all they're press conferences in secret.

all there press conferences in secret.

all their press conferences in secret.

all of there press conferences in secret.

all they are press conferences in secret.

Correct answer:

all their press conferences in secret.

Explanation:

The use of "there," which means a particular place, is incorrect in this sentence. The sentence is written in a way to indicate that "there" should be the third person plural possessive pronoun, "their." Therefore, the correct answer choice is "all their press conferences in secret."

Example Question #5 : Correcting Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

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.

The rains came so hard that there football game had to be delayed.

Possible Answers:

their football game

they're football game

there football game

there own football game

there football games

Correct answer:

their football game

Explanation:

The use of "there" is absolutely incorrect in this sentence. What should be used is the third person plural possessive pronoun "their; therefore, "their football game" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #6 : Correcting Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

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.

We're you ever planning on telling me that we're almost out of gas or were you going to wait until the car stopped working?

Possible Answers:

Were you ever planning on telling me that we're almost out of gas or were you going to wait until the car stopped working?

We're you ever planning on telling me that were almost out of gas or we're you going to wait until the car stopped working?

Were you ever planning on telling me that were almost out of gas or were you going to wait until the car stopped working?

We're you ever planning on telling me that we're almost out of gas or we're you going to wait until the car stopped working?

Were you ever planning on telling me that we're almost out of gas or we're you going to wait until the car stopped working?

Correct answer:

Were you ever planning on telling me that we're almost out of gas or were you going to wait until the car stopped working?

Explanation:

"Were" is the past tense of "to be," and "we're" is the contraction of the two words "we are." For the first underlined word, we need the past tense of "to be," and we can tell this by noticing that this "were" needs to function as part of the verb "were . . . ever planning." The second underlined word needs to be the contraction of "we are," since we could replace it with "we are" ("that we are almost out of gas") and the sentence would still make sense. The third word needs to be the past tense of "to be," since, like the first word, it is part of the verb phrase "were . . . going." So, the correct answer is "Were you ever planning on telling me that we're almost out of gas? Or were you going to wait until the car stopped working?"

Example Question #242 : Correcting 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.

Marlene and Josh spent hours debating what to wear and where to go for dinner.

Possible Answers:

wear and were

where and wear

wear and wear

were and wear

wear and where

Correct answer:

wear and where

Explanation:

"Wear" is a verb, "where" is an adverb, and "were" is the plural past tense form of the verb "to be." So, the correct answer is "wear and where."

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