PSAT Writing : Identifying Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Identifying Pronoun Antecedent Agreement 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 woolly mammoth, a relative of the elephant, roamed through northern Eurasia and North America before their extinctionNo error.

Possible Answers:

roamed through

No error.

their extinction

a relative of the elephant

and

Correct answer:

their extinction

Explanation:

In this sentence, the plural pronoun “their” does not agree with its singular antecedent, “the woolly mammoth.” The corrected sentence reads, "The woolly mammoth, a relative of the elephant, roamed through northern Eurasia and North America before its extinction."

Example Question #1 : Identifying Pronoun Antecedent Agreement 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 ruby-tailed tree crawler is a rare species of caterpillar; they only live in isolated sections of the Amazon jungle. No error.

Possible Answers:

live in

No error.

a rare species

they

isolated sections

Correct answer:

they

Explanation:

In this sentence, the pronoun “they” does not agree in number with its singular antecedent, “the ruby-tailed tree crawler.” The corrected sentence reads, "The ruby-tailed tree crawler is a rare species of caterpillar; it only lives in isolated sections of the Amazon jungle."

Example Question #3 : Identifying Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Errors

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

Modern-day chickens did not evolve from prehistoric dinosaurs, but it does share a common ancestor. No error.

Possible Answers:

did not evolve from

No error.

it does

Modern-day

dinosaurs, but

Correct answer:

it does

Explanation:

This sentence has a pronoun that does not agree with its antecedent. “It” is singular, but it refers to the plural “chickens” and “dinosaurs.” The corrected sentence reads, "Modern-day chickens did not evolve from prehistoric dinosaurs, but they do share a common ancestor."

Example Question #4 : Identifying Pronoun Antecedent Agreement 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 tree-toothed spider is migrating north from the Amazon, where they made their home previouslyNo error.

Possible Answers:

is migrating

No error.

from the Amazon

previously

they made their home

Correct answer:

they made their home

Explanation:

The first part of the sentence introduces the spider as a singular noun. The second part, where the sentence uses pronouns, should match this by referring to the spider using singular pronouns. The corrected sentence reads, "The tree-toothed spider is migrating north from the Amazon, where it made its home previously."

Example Question #2 : Identifying Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Errors

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

Little Amy beamed proudly as she described every detail of the model rocket her father and her had builtNo error.

Possible Answers:

described

her father and her

had built

No error.

proudly

Correct answer:

her father and her

Explanation:

This sentence contains an error in pronoun case. "Her father and her" is incorrect because "her" is an objective pronoun, whereas a subjective pronoun is needed because Amy performed the action "had built," along with "her father." If you find it hard to see why the sentence's use of "her" is incorrect, try taking out the phrase "her father and"; you wouldn't say "Little Amy beamed proudly as she described every detail of the model rocket her had built." So, "her father and her" is the part of the sentence that contains an error.

Example Question #3 : Identifying Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Errors

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

For people living in extremely cold climates, putting on warm mittens and boots just to cross the street is a necessary precaution to protect yourself from the cold. No error.

Possible Answers:

putting on

For people living in

and boots

to protect yourself

No error.

Correct answer:

to protect yourself

Explanation:

This sentence uses the pronoun “yourself,” even though it is talking about “people living in cold and snowy climates” in the third person. One way to correct this is, "For people living in extremely cold climates, putting on warm mittens and boots just to cross the street is a necessary precaution for protection from the cold."

Example Question #7 : Identifying Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Errors

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

Contrary to popular belief, the most dangerous pirates were often the ones which had two wooden legs. No error.

Possible Answers:

most dangerous

Contrary to

were the ones

No error.

which

Correct answer:

which

Explanation:

This sentence uses the relative pronoun “which” to describe people. The personal version “who” is better: "Contrary to popular belief, the most dangerous pirates were often the ones who had two wooden legs."

Example Question #4 : Identifying Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Errors

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

I hate having to go to the doctor because they always ask very invasive questions that make me uncomfortable. No error

Possible Answers:

make me 

they

No error

ask 

having to 

Correct answer:

they

Explanation:

The word, "doctor" is singular. Therefore, pronouns that refer back to the doctor should also be singular. "They" is plural and therefore is incorrect; the phrase "he or she" should be used in the sentence, as we do not know the doctor's gender.

Example Question #5 : Identifying Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Errors

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

In order for a person to balance a career and family, it is essential that they be able to prioritize all the things that must be accomplished. No error

Possible Answers:

that 

and

able to 

they

No error

Correct answer:

they

Explanation:

The subject of this sentence is "person." Therefore, the pronoun should be the singular "he or she," not the plural "they."

Example Question #6 : Identifying Pronoun Antecedent Agreement 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 flock of geese flew rapidly through the air for miles on end until they became fatigued and had to land to rest. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

had to 

miles on end

flock of 

they 

Correct answer:

they 

Explanation:

"Flock of geese" is singular. Therefore, the corresponding verb should refer to a singular subject, not a plural one. "They" should be changed to "it."

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