PSAT Writing : Correcting Misplaced or Interrupting Modifier Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier 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 vogue for mixed breed dogs helps to improve actually the health of canines overall.

Possible Answers:

The vogue for actually mixed breed dogs helps to improve the health of canines overall.

The vogue for mixed breed dogs helps to improve actually the health of canines overall.

The vogue actually for mixed breed dogs helps to improve the health of canines overall.

The vogue for mixed breed dogs actually helps to improve the health of canines overall.

The vogue for mixed breed dogs helps to improve the health of canines actually overall.

Correct answer:

The vogue for mixed breed dogs actually helps to improve the health of canines overall.

Explanation:

The adverb "actually" is stuck in a place in the sentence where it is unclear what verb it is supposed to be modifying. An adverb like "actually" modifies verbs, and should be placed directly next to the word it modifies. The only answer choice that places the adverb next to a verb is "The vogue for mixed breed dogs actually helps to improve the health of canines overall."

Example Question #621 : 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.

The young attorney was highly still idealistic, taking on cases that had no chance of paying her well.

Possible Answers:

The young attorney were highly still idealistic

The young attorney was highly still idealistic

The young attorney was high still idealistic

The young attorney was still highly idealistic

The young attorney was highly still idealist

Correct answer:

The young attorney was still highly idealistic

Explanation:

The insertion of "still" between "highly" and "idealistic" is awkward, as "highly" should directly modify "idealistic." The word order of the sentence should be modified, so that "still" is placed before "highly." "The young attorney was still highly idealistic" is therefore the correct answer choice.

Example Question #11 : Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier 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 only young girl was interested in math among her required school subjects.

Possible Answers:

The young girl was interested in math only among her required school subjects.

The young girl was interested in math among her required only school subjects.

The only young girl was interested in math among her required school subjects.

The young girl was interested in math among her required school subjects only.

The young girl was only interested in math among her required school subjects.

Correct answer:

The young girl was only interested in math among her required school subjects.

Explanation:

The use of "only" to modify "young girl" is confusing, and makes the sentence unclear. If the word "only" is shifted, it can more clearly show that the "young girl" was "interested" in math and little else "among her required school subjects." The answer choice which most clearly uses "only" is "The young girl was only interested in math among her required school subjects."

Example Question #431 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Only they read the author's books, and refuse to touch books by anyone else.

Possible Answers:

Only they read the author's books,

They read the only author's books,

Only they are reading the author's books,

They read only the author's books,

They read the books only of the author,

Correct answer:

They read only the author's books,

Explanation:

The use of the word "only" is incorrect in this sentence, as the second part of the sentence makes it clear that the subjects read "only" the individual's author's work. The sentence is written to make it seem like the subjects are the only people reading the author's work. "They read only the author's books" is the answer choice that best fixes the problem.

Example Question #13 : Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier 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.

Currency has had rarely any uniform shape or design throughout human history.

Possible Answers:

Currency has had rarely any uniform shape nor design throughout human history.

Currency has had rarely any uniform shape or design human history throughout.

Currency has had rarely any uniform shape or design through out human history.

Currency has had rarely any uniform shape or design throughout human history.

Currency has rarely had any uniform shape or design throughout human history.

Correct answer:

Currency has rarely had any uniform shape or design throughout human history.

Explanation:

The insertion of the adverb "rarely" after "had" makes its usage confusing and unclear, since the reader is not sure which verb it is modifying. By placing "rarely" between "has" and "had," the meaning of the sentence becomes clearer, and thus the correct answer is "Currency has rarely had any uniform shape or design throughout human history."

Example Question #11 : Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier 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.

He was the only third driver to win ten races in one season.

Possible Answers:

He was the third driver to only win ten races in one season.

He only was the third driver to win ten races in one season.

He was only the third driver to win ten races in one season.

He was the third driver only to win ten races in one season.

He was the only third driver to win ten races in one season.

Correct answer:

He was only the third driver to win ten races in one season.

Explanation:

The placement of "only" in the sentence makes the sentence confusing, as it seems as if the subject were "only" one of many "third drivers" "to win ten races in one season," which doesn't make sense. The sentence only makes sense if it suggests that the driver in question was just "the third driver" ever to achieve the feat. The answer choice that correctly deploys "only" is, "He was only the third driver to win ten races in one season."

Example Question #21 : Correcting Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier 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.

Widespread structural reform is only the way the organization can remain solvent in the future.

Possible Answers:

Widespread structural reform is only the way the organization can remain solvent for the future.

Widespread structural reform is the only way the organization can remain solvent in the future.

Widespread structural reform is only the way that organization can remain solvent in the future.

Widespread structural reform is only the way the organization can remain solvent in the future.

Widespread structural reform is only the way the organization could remain solvent in the future.

Correct answer:

Widespread structural reform is the only way the organization can remain solvent in the future.

Explanation:

The insertion of "only" between "is" and "the" makes it unclear what the word is modifying in the sentence. As "only" is modifying "way," it should be placed next to it in the sentence; therefore, the correct answer choice is "Widespread structural reform is the only way the organization can remain solvent in the future."

Example Question #21 : Correcting Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier 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 Zulu tribe was the British army's arguably most formidable opponent in the Colonial period.

Possible Answers:

was the British army's arguable most formidable opponent

was the British army's arguably most formidable opponent

was the British army's most formidable opponent arguably

was arguably the British army's most formidable opponent

was the British army's arguing most formidable opponent

Correct answer:

was arguably the British army's most formidable opponent

Explanation:

The word "arguably" is an odd place in the sentence that makes it unclear exactly what is being modified by the word. As the thing that is arguable is the status of "the Zulu tribe" against other British opponents. Therefore, the clearest and best answer choice is "was arguably the British army's most formidable opponent."

Example Question #21 : Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier 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 hill was a particularly difficult challenge for the racers, who could find nothing like it for practicing anywhere.

Possible Answers:

like it anywhere for practicing.

like for it practicing anywhere.

like it practicing for anywhere.

like practicing for it anywhere.

like it for practicing anywhere.

Correct answer:

like it anywhere for practicing.

Explanation:

With "anywhere" placed after "practicing," the sentence reads as though the problem was in "practicing anywhere" rather than its intended meaning of finding something "anywhere" on which the racers could practice. The answer choice that best clarifies this is "like it anywhere for practicing."

Example Question #21 : Misplaced Or Interrupting Modifier 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.

Only the cure for the common cold is rest, relaxation, and fluids.

Possible Answers:

Only the cure for a common cold is rest, relaxation, and fluids.

Only the cure for the common cold is rest, relaxation, and fluids.

The only cure for the common cold is rest, relaxation, and fluids.

Only a cure for the common cold is rest, relaxation, and fluids.

Only the cure for the common cold is rest relaxation and fluids.

Correct answer:

The only cure for the common cold is rest, relaxation, and fluids.

Explanation:

The use of "only" at the very beginning of the sentence creates confusion throughout the rest of the sentence. As it needs to directly modify "cure," it should be moved directly next to it. The answer choice that appropriately does this is "The only cure for the common cold is rest, relaxation, and fluids."

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