SAT Writing : Identifying Pronoun Errors: Incorrect Usage

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Identifying Pronoun Errors: Incorrect Usage

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

Despite it's positive critical reception, many members of the general public disliked the play, believing that the director betrayed his homegrown roots in order to appeal to a wealthier audience. No error

Possible Answers:

it's

No error

members of the general public

appeal to

believing that the director

Correct answer:

it's

Explanation:

"It's" is an abbreviation for "it is." Here, "its" should be used in order to show possession. Therefore, the correct answer choice is "it's."

Example Question #2 : Identifying Pronoun Errors: Incorrect Usage

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

Given that the mother walks very slowly and that the son never seems to be in much of a rush, it is safe to say that the family likes to take their time. No error

Possible Answers:

Given

No error

it is

their

never

Correct answer:

their

Explanation:

"Family" is singular. Therefore, the possessive pronoun that refers to it should be singular as well. Thus, "its" should be used instead of "their."

Example Question #3 : Identifying Pronoun Errors: Incorrect Usage

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

While there are advantages to doing freelance work, it is outweighed by the stress of having an inconsistent income. No error

Possible Answers:

inconsistent

are

No error

it

stress of

Correct answer:

it

Explanation:

The underlined word, "it," refers to the "advantages of freelance work," which is plural. Therefore, "it," a singular pronoun, should be changed to the plural pronoun "they."

Example Question #11 : Identifying 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 psychotherapist always needs to be sure that they are meeting the emotional needs of clients by developing a keen awareness of other people's feelings. No error

Possible Answers:

a keen awareness of

they are

always

No error

of clients

Correct answer:

they are

Explanation:

In this sentence, the plural pronoun “they” does not correspond to the singular antecedent “psychotherapist.” To correct the sentence's error, one would need to replace "they" with "he or she."

Example Question #12 : Identifying 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 an incredible investment of time and energy into the project, Gary was disappointed with their final result. No error

Possible Answers:

despite

their

No error

into

was

Correct answer:

their

Explanation:

In this sentence, “their” does not correspond to the antecedent “Gary.” Since we can reasonably infer that Gary is male, the correct version of this sentence would use the pronoun "his" instead of "their."

Example Question #22 : Identifying Pronoun 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 web designer never received their pay for the work completed on the restaurant’s webpage because the owners had declared bankruptcy. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

never

their

because

declared

Correct answer:

their

Explanation:

In this sentence, “their” does not correspond to the antecedent “web designer.” The correct version of this sentence would use the phrase "his or her" or avoid use of a possessive personal pronoun altogether.

Example Question #23 : Identifying Pronoun Errors

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

It is the flight attendant’s responsibility to make sure that they inform all passengers of the necessary safety precautions to takeNo error

Possible Answers:

It is

of the 

to take

they inform

No error

Correct answer:

they inform

Explanation:

In this sentence, the plural pronoun “they” does not correspond to the singular antecedent “flight attendant.” To correct the error, one would need to change "they inform" to "he or she informs."

Example Question #4 : Identifying Pronoun Errors: Incorrect Usage

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

The students were interested in the frogs they had been given for dissection, but most struggled to see it as scientific learning opportunities instead of gross, dead amphibians. No error

Possible Answers:

The students were

they had been given

it

for dissection, but

No error

Correct answer:

it

Explanation:

This sentence's error occurs in its use of the pronoun "it." "It" is a singular pronoun, but in this sentence, it is used to refer to a plural antecedent, "frogs." To correct the sentence's error, you would need to change "it" to "they."

Example Question #5 : Identifying Pronoun Errors: Incorrect Usage

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

Jackie thought that the new traffic circle in the neighborhood was a terrible idea; Franklin thought it tooNo error

Possible Answers:

that

too

it

No error

was

Correct answer:

it

Explanation:

The wrong pronoun is used here after "thought," since we do not have a specific "it" to which to refer. The corrected sentence reads, "Jackie thought that the new traffic circle in the neighborhood was a terrible idea; Franklin thought so too."

Example Question #43 : Identifying Word 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 new player might take some time to internalize all of the complicated rules of the game, but they will become an expert with some practice. No error

Possible Answers:

complicated

No error

but

they

take some time

Correct answer:

they

Explanation:

Here, the pronoun “they” does not agree in number with its antecedent, “a new player.” The pronoun is plural and the antecedent is singular. The corrected sentence might read: "A new player might take some time to internalize all of the complicated rules of the game, but he or she will become an expert with some practice."

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