PSAT Writing : Correcting Sentence Fragment and Sentence Combination Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Correcting Sentence Fragment And Sentence Combination 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.

Statistics are not always a reliable source of information, many data are tailored to suit a person’s agenda.

Possible Answers:

information; many data is

information: many data are

information, many data is

information; many data are

information, many data are

Correct answer:

information; many data are

Explanation:

A semicolon is an appropriate punctuation mark to use when separating two full sentences that are closely related, though this separation can also be accomplished with a comma followed by a conjunction. Although the word data does not end in “s,” it is actually plural, so “many data are" is correct.

Example Question #2 : Correcting Sentence Fragment And Sentence Combination 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 assassination of Archduke Ferdinand is considered the spark that led to World War I, however, there were many other factors that contributed to the onset of the war.

Possible Answers:

led to WWI; however, there was many other factors

led to WWI, however, there were many other factors

led to WWI; however, there were many other factors

led to WWI: however, there were many other factors

led to WWI: however, there was many other factors

Correct answer:

led to WWI; however, there were many other factors

Explanation:

Only a semicolon can separate two full sentences that are closely related. “There was” is used when to talk about something singular (one factor), but “there were” is for plural ("factors").

Example Question #3 : Correcting Sentence Fragment And Sentence Combination 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 problem being that the office staff does not have enough time nor resources to prepare for large events.

Possible Answers:

The problem being that the office staff is not having

The problem is that the office staff is not having

The problem being that the office staff does not have 

The problem, being that the office staff does not have

The problem is that the office staff does not have

Correct answer:

The problem is that the office staff does not have

Explanation:

The original sentence is a fragment. Read it out loud, and it will probably sound like it is missing something. To fix this, change the verb “being” to “is.” This is more direct and fixes the fragment issue. The other choices either don’t fix “being” or add unnecessary progressive verbs (i.e. "is not having").

Example Question #2 : Sentence Fragment And Sentence Combination Errors

She liked the finer things in life she always had to have nice clothes and fine food.

Possible Answers:

She liked the finer things in life and she always had to have nice clothes and fine food.

She liked the finer things in life she always had to have nice clothes and fine food.

She liked the finer things in life, she always had to have nice clothes and fine food.

She liked the finer things in life, and she always had to have nice clothes and fine food.

She liked the finer things in life, always had to have nice clothes and fine food.

Correct answer:

She liked the finer things in life, and she always had to have nice clothes and fine food.

Explanation:

The sentence is a compound sentence, or one sentence that contains two complete thoughts joined together to highlight their relationship to each other. All compound sentences must be joined either by a semicolon or a comma and a conjunction. The only answer choice that appropriately does this is "She liked the finer things in life, and she always had to have nice clothes and fine food."

Example Question #1065 : Improving Sentences

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.

Patients were not allowed in many different parts of the clinic they were restricted to staff only.

Possible Answers:

Patients were not allowed in many different parts of the clinic; they were restricted to staff only.

Patients not allowed in many different parts of the clinic were restricted to staff only.

Patients were not allowed in many different parts of the clinic they were restricted to staff only.

Patients were not allowed in many different parts of the clinic was restricted to staff only.

Patients were not allowed in many different parts of the clinic were restricted to staff only.

Correct answer:

Patients were not allowed in many different parts of the clinic; they were restricted to staff only.

Explanation:

The sentence as written is a compound sentence, or two complete sentences joined into one sentence to show the relationship between the two thoughts. All compound sentences need to be joined by either a semicolon or a comma and a conjunction. The only answer choice that appropriately does this is "Patients were not allowed in many different parts of the clinic; they were restricted to staff only."

Example Question #6 : Correcting Sentence Fragment And Sentence Combination 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 television show became an overnight success and it quickly became the network's biggest hit.

Possible Answers:

The television show became an overnight success; and it quickly became the network's biggest hit.

The television show became an overnight success, it quickly became the network's biggest hit.

The television show became an overnight success; it quickly became the network's biggest hit.

The television show became an overnight success it quickly became the network's biggest hit.

The television show became an overnight success and it quickly became the network's biggest hit.

Correct answer:

The television show became an overnight success; it quickly became the network's biggest hit.

Explanation:

The sentence is a compound sentence, or two sentences that are joined into one sentence to show their relationship. The two independent clauses that form a compound sentence must be connected by either a semicolon or a comma followed by a conjunction. The only answer choice that appropriately employs either of these ways of joining two independent clauses is "The television show became an overnight success; it quickly became the network's biggest hit."

Example Question #101 : Correcting Other Phrase, Clause, And Sentence 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.

Cats were traditionally used as pest control on small farms and the use of the animals was an inexpensive way to protect food stores.

Possible Answers:

on small farms; and the use of the animals

on small farms, and the use of the animals

on small farms so the use of the animals

on small farms, the use of the animals

on small farms and the use of the animals

Correct answer:

on small farms, and the use of the animals

Explanation:

The sentence is written as a compound sentence, with two independent clauses joined together to show their relationship. All compound sentences must be joined either by a semicolon or a comma followed by a conjunction. The correct answer is the only answer choice that features the appropriate joining, "on small farms, and the use of the animals."

Example Question #102 : Correcting Other Phrase, Clause, And Sentence 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 smaller child never had any hope fighting his brother one-on-one but he kept picking fights anyway.

Possible Answers:

one-on-one he kept 

one-on-one, but he kept 

one-on-one and he kept 

one-on-one but he kept 

one-on-one; but he kept 

Correct answer:

one-on-one, but he kept 

Explanation:

The sentence is a compound sentence, one that joins two independent clauses together to show their relationship. Any compound sentence needs to be joined by either a semicolon or a comma followed by a conjunction. Only "one-on-one, but he kept" properly joins the two independent clauses of the compound sentence.

Example Question #103 : Correcting Other Phrase, Clause, And Sentence 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.

Her daughters were all exemplary students and she was always proud of their academic accomplishments.

Possible Answers:

exemplary students; and she was always proud

exemplary students and she was always proud

exemplary students, she was always proud

exemplary students so she was always proud

exemplary students, and she was always proud

Correct answer:

exemplary students, and she was always proud

Explanation:

The sentence is written as a compound sentence, one that joins two indpendent clauses in one sentence in order to show their relationship. A compound sentence can only be joined by either a semicolon or a comma followed by a conjunction. The only answer choice that properly joins the two clauses is "exemplary students, and she was always proud."

Example Question #104 : Correcting Other Phrase, Clause, And Sentence 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.

"What's that noise?" asked Thelma "oh, it's only the cat."

Possible Answers:

asked Thelma "Oh, it's only the cat."

asked Thelma. "Oh, it's only the cat".

asked Thelma. "Oh, it's only the cat."

asked Thelma. "Oh, it's only the cat"?

asked Thelma, "Oh, it's only the cat."

Correct answer:

asked Thelma. "Oh, it's only the cat."

Explanation:

"What's that noise?" and "Oh, it's only the cat." are two separate sentences, not one sentence that is broken up by the phrase "asked Thelma." So, that means that a period is needed after "Thelma," and that "Oh" needs to be capitalized as the first word of a second sentence. The placement of the period after "cat" but before the double quotation marks is correct in American English, so its position does not need to be changed. Also, "Oh, it's only the cat" is a declarative statement, or at least we have no context clues that suggest it to be a question, so the answer ending the statement with a question mark is incorrect. That answer is also incorrect because the question mark falls outside of the quotation marks when it would need to be be inside of the quotation marks if the statement were a question.

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