PSAT Writing : Identifying Other Verb Usage Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Identifying Other Verb 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.

Hillary Clinton, a prominent American politician, is often being represented in the media as a conniving woman rather than a successful political figureNo error.

Possible Answers:

being

conniving

in the media

No error.

than a successful political figure

Correct answer:

being

Explanation:

The progressive verb “being” is not necessary in this sentence. It is more concise and to-the-point to say: "Hillary Clinton, a prominent American politician, is often represented in the media as a conniving woman rather than a successful political figure."

Example Question #2 : Identifying Other Verb 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 spectators looked at one another, not having much to say, as they were dumbfounded by the tricks of the New York City street magician. No error.

Possible Answers:

No error.

having

New York City

dumbfounded

one another

Correct answer:

having

Explanation:

“Having” is an incorrect use of a gerund. It creates confusion with respect to time, as both “looked” and “dumbfounded” are in the simple past tense.

Example Question #3 : Identifying Other Verb 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.

Despite her best intentions, Suzy’s attempting to throw a surprise birthday party was a complete disaster. No error.

Possible Answers:

surprise birthday

was

No error.

Despite her best intentions

attempting

Correct answer:

attempting

Explanation:

It is not necessary to use the gerund “attempting” in this sentence because the noun “attempt” already exists. The corrected sentence reads, "Despite her best intentions, Suzy’s attempt to throw a surprise birthday party was a complete disaster."

Example Question #4 : Identifying Other Verb 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.

Most elderly women prefer to go to bed early instead of stay up late watching television. No error.

Possible Answers:

instead of

Most

to go to bed

No error.

stay up late

Correct answer:

stay up late

Explanation:

Usually, the phrase “instead of” is followed by a gerund or verb that ends in "-ing". The corrected sentence reads, "Most elderly women prefer to go to bed early instead of staying up late watching television."

Example Question #5 : Identifying Other Verb 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.

Given the chance, Frank would drop everything and dedicate his life to swim the English Channel. No error.

Possible Answers:

everything and

to swim

his life

No error.

Given the chance

Correct answer:

to swim

Explanation:

This sentence uses the verb “swim” when it needs a gerund, “swimming.” A gerund is a verb that is acting as a noun. The corrected sentence reads, "Given the chance, Frank would drop everything and dedicate his life to swimming the English Channel."

Example Question #6 : Identifying Other Verb 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.

All of the children were sorely disappointed that the water slide being closed for repairsNo error.

Possible Answers:

All of the children

No error.

being closed

for repairs

sorely

Correct answer:

being closed

Explanation:

This sentence has the gerund "being" in it, but the past tense "was" is cleaner and more direct. The corrected sentence reads, "All of the children were sorely disappointed that the water slide was closed for repairs."

Example Question #7 : Identifying Other Verb 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.

Many people find the rigorous schedule associated with campaign management being overly fatiguing. No error.

Possible Answers:

being

Many people find

overly

No error.

associated with

Correct answer:

being

Explanation:

This sentence uses “being” as a gerund (a verb acting as a noun) when the infinitive is necessary. Always, when you use "find" followed by a noun and then an adjective or an adjectival phrase, you should connect the noun and adjective or adjectival phrase with the infinitive “to be.” The corrected sentence reads, "Many people find the rigorous schedule associated with campaign management to be overly fatiguing."

Example Question #8 : Identifying Other Verb 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.

Tanner was afraid for returning to the cold winters of the northern states. No error.

Possible Answers:

northern

cold winters

No error.

for returning to

was 

Correct answer:

for returning to

Explanation:

The adjective “afraid” is usually followed by either an infinitive (“to return”) or “of” and a gerund (“of returning”). Choose one of those to fix this sentence: "Tanner was afraid to return to the cold winters of the northern states."

Example Question #9 : Identifying Other Verb 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 sense of expectation in the air was almost unbearable; the curtain was supposed to risen at half past six, and it was almost seven. No error.

Possible Answers:

risen

unbearable; the curtain

The sense of expectation

No error.

almost

Correct answer:

risen

Explanation:

This sentence uses a participle (“risen”) after “to.” Here, an infinitive is correct. If you read the sentence as it is written out loud, it will probably sound incorrect. The corrected sentence reads, "The sense of expectation in the air was almost unbearable; the curtain was supposed to rise at half past six, and it was almost seven."

Example Question #10 : Identifying Other Verb 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.

A revolutionary in American dance, Isadora Duncan rejected pointe shoes and stiff corsets, chose instead to dance barefoot in loose tunics. No error

Possible Answers:

chose

No error

A revolutionary in American dance

stiff corsets

to dance

Correct answer:

chose

Explanation:

The last clause in this sentence needs to be reformatted to fit into the logic of the sentence. Turning “chose” into a gerund accomplishes this. The corrected sentence reads: "A revolutionary in American dance, Isadora Duncan rejected pointe shoes and traditional stiff corsets, choosing instead to dance barefoot in loose tunics."

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