PSAT Writing : Correcting Preposition Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #6 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

The girls were always challenging their father's rules for every opportunity.

Possible Answers:

their father's rules for every opportunity.

their father's rules in every opportunity.

their father's rules on every opportunity.

their father's rules at every opportunity.

their father's rules onto every opportunity.

Correct answer:

their father's rules at every opportunity.

Explanation:

The use of the preposition "for" in the sentence is odd, and does not properly reflect what the girls are doing. The preposition should be changed to indicate that they challenged during certain moments. The preposition that best shows this is "at," making the correct answer choice "their father's rules at every opportunity."

Example Question #1 : Correcting 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.

While I really enjoy studying the French language, I would also like to try and learn some Portuguese as well.

Possible Answers:

I would also like to try to learn some Portuguese as well.

I would also like to try learning some Portuguese.

I would also like to try to learn some Portuguese.

I would also like to try and learn some Portuguese as well.

I would also like to try and learn some Portuguese.

Correct answer:

I would also like to try to learn some Portuguese.

Explanation:

Only the preposition “to” can follow the verb “to try.” It isn’t necessary to include the “as well” because “also” means the same thing; the original phrasing is redundant. 

Example Question #1 : Correcting Preposition 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.

John became infuriated when the teacher ignored his raised hand, but he calmed down when he realized the teacher did it on accident.

Possible Answers:

but he calmed down when he realized the teacher was doing it by accident. 

but he calmed down when he realized the teacher did it on accident.

but he calmed down realizing the teacher did it by accident. 

but he calmed down realizing the teacher did it on accident.

but he calmed down when he realized the teacher did it by accident.

Correct answer:

but he calmed down when he realized the teacher did it by accident.

Explanation:

The correct expression is “by accident;” “on” is the wrong preposition here. “Realizing” would be considered an incorrect, and “realizing” also violates the principle of parallel structure, as the entire sentence is written in the simple past tense.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Preposition 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.

She would frequently compare her mother with the most loving of saints.

Possible Answers:

to the most loving of saints.

with most loving of saints.

with the most loving of saints.

with saints that are the most loving.

to most loving of saints.

Correct answer:

to the most loving of saints.

Explanation:

The grammatical error in the underlined portion is the use of the word "with." Comparisons are not done "with" something else, but "to" something else. The correct answer choice is "to the most loving of saints."

Example Question #3 : Correcting Preposition 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 amount of people living in the area was still a matter of much debate in researchers.

Possible Answers:

among researchers.

around research.

in researchers.

around researchers.

among research.

Correct answer:

among researchers.

Explanation:

The underlined elements of the sentence have an issue with the usage of the preposition before researchers. The debate happens from one researcher to the next, and the correct preposition would indicate this. "Among researchers" is the best choice among the answers.

Example Question #2 : Word 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.

Questions are rarely asked by students in an imposing teacher.

Possible Answers:

by an imposing teacher.

through an imposing teacher.

to an imposing teacher.

in a teacher imposing.

in an imposing teacher.

Correct answer:

to an imposing teacher.

Explanation:

The underlined portion of the sentence has an odd use of the preposition "in." The questions are actually being asked by students, directed at the teacher, and the preposition needs to reflect this; therefore, "to an imposing teacher" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #5 : Correcting Preposition 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.

In the past, corporations had very few restrictions on what they had to pay from employee's wages.

Possible Answers:

to pay on employees' wages.

for pay from employees' wages.

to pay from employees' wage.

to pay for employees' wages.

to pay from employees' wages.

Correct answer:

to pay for employees' wages.

Explanation:

The use of the preposition "from" in the sentence is very odd. The correct preposition needs to indicate the the "wages" are something the "corporations" give to the "employees." The answer choice that best reflexts this is "to pay for employees' wages."

Example Question #2 : 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.

To some people, the idea of Mardi Gras in New Orleans is synonymous for rowdy behavior, noisiness, and disorder.

Possible Answers:

about

of

to

in meaning for

with

Correct answer:

with

Explanation:

According to the idiomatic usage of prepositions, "synonymous" is typically followed by the preposition "with," not "for." All other variations are grammatically incorrect. 

Example Question #7 : Correcting Preposition 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 night grew so cold that all the campers were shivering although a raging fire.

Possible Answers:

despite a raging fire.

although a raging fire.

through a raging fire.

even though a raging fire.

from a raging fire.

Correct answer:

despite a raging fire.

Explanation:

The use of "although" in the last part of the sentence is confusing and awkward. A different preposition can more clearly indicate the fact the campers "were shivering" while a fire was "raging," which should warm them. The best answer choice to do this is "despite a raging fire."

Example Question #2 : Correcting Preposition 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 repeats the underlined portion as it is written.

That author's most recent novel is based on the Civil War in Spain, but, on a deeper level, many perceive the book as a protest on Spanish social conventions.

Possible Answers:

but on a deeper level, many perceive the book as a protest on Spanish social conventions.

but on a deeper level many perceive the book as a protest against Spanish social conventions.

but, on a deeper level, many perceive the book as a protest against Spanish social conventions.

but, on a deeper level, many perceive the book as a protest on Spanish social conventions. 

but, on a deeper level many perceive the book as a protest on Spanish social conventions.

Correct answer:

but, on a deeper level, many perceive the book as a protest against Spanish social conventions.

Explanation:

The fragment “on a deeper level” must have a comma before and after it because it interrupts the second clause of the sentence. Also, the word “protest” must be paired with the preposition “against.” 

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