PSAT Writing : Correcting Misplaced or Interrupting Modifier Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #91 : Correcting Modifier Placement 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.

In all of human history, such actions before had never been undertaken.

Possible Answers:

such actions had never before been undertaken.

such actions before had never been undertaken.

actions before had never been undertaken.

such actions before had never be undertaken.

such actions before never been undertaken.

Correct answer:

such actions had never before been undertaken.

Explanation:

The main issue with the underlined phrase is one of word order, as "before" is stuck in a place that makes the meaning confusing. To improve this phrase, "before" should be moved to work with "never." "Such actions had never before been undertaken," is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #12 : 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 tickets only were able to be given out to people who called the radio station.

Possible Answers:

The tickets only were able to be given out until people who called the radio station.

The tickets only were able to be gave out to people who called the radio station.

The tickets only were able to be given out to people who call the radio station.

The tickets were only able to be given out to people who called the radio station.

The tickets only were able to be given out to people who called the radio station.

Correct answer:

The tickets were only able to be given out to people who called the radio station.

Explanation:

The placement of "only" in the sentence is confusing, as it is unclear what "only" is modifying. By moving "only" after the verb, it makes it clear that "only" modifies "able," making the correct answer "The tickets were only able to be given out to people who called the radio station."

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.

With each passing year, the veterans of the war fewer grew in number.

Possible Answers:

the veterans of the war few grew in number.

the veterans of the war fewer grew on number.

the veterans of the war fewer growing in number.

the veterans of the war fewer grew in number.

the veterans of the war grew fewer in number.

Correct answer:

the veterans of the war grew fewer in number.

Explanation:

The word "fewer" is in a strange and confusing place in the sentence. The sentence needs to be restrutured so that the veterans have "fewer" "in number." Therefore, the correct answer choice is "the veterans of the war grew fewer in number."

Example Question #22 : 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.

Scientists believe the extinction now was caused by a variety of factors millions of years ago, rather than a single cause.

Possible Answers:

Scientists believe the extinction now was causing by a variety of factors millions of years ago, rather than a single cause.

Scientists now believe the extinction  was caused by a variety of factors millions of years ago, rather than a single cause.

Scientists believe the extinction now caused by a variety of factors millions of years ago, rather than a single cause.

Scientists believe the extinction now was caused by a variety of factors millions of years ago rather than a single cause.

Scientists believe the extinction now was caused by a variety of factors millions of years ago, rather than a single cause.

Correct answer:

Scientists now believe the extinction  was caused by a variety of factors millions of years ago, rather than a single cause.

Explanation:

The placement of "now" before "was" makes the sentence read so that the "extinction" appears to be simultaneously "now" and "millions of years ago." The word order should be changed to demonstrate the thing happening "now" is what "scientists believe." Therefore, the correct answer choice is "Scientists now believe the extinction was caused by a variety of factors millions of years ago, rather than a single cause."

Example Question #311 : Correcting 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.

The flood was the beginning only of the area's experience with natural disasters that season.

Possible Answers:

The flood was the beginning only for the area's experience

The flood was the beginning only of the area's experiencing

The flood was the beginning only of the areas experience

The flood was the beginning only of the area's experience

The flood was only the beginning of the area's experience

Correct answer:

The flood was only the beginning of the area's experience

Explanation:

The insertion of "only" between "beginning" and "of" makes the sentence confusing and awkward. The sentence is attempting to say that the flood began a sequence of awful natural disasters, but "only" should be moved to better indicate this. The answer choice that best clarifies the sentence is "The flood was only the beginning of the area's experience."

Example Question #301 : Correcting 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.

The king was the person only in the country who could exercise such power.

Possible Answers:

The king was the person only in the country who could exercise such power.

Only the king was the person in the country who could exercise such power.

The king was the only person in the country who could exercise such power.

The king was the person in the country who could exercise such power only.

The king was the person in the country only who could exercise such power.

Correct answer:

The king was the only person in the country who could exercise such power.

Explanation:

In the sentence as it is written, "only" is floating between phrases, and it is not clear what exactly the word is modifying. The sentence is trying to say that the king was the singular person with the ability to exercise the power. So, "only" should be placed next to "person" to make this clear. The only answer choice that places "only" before "person" is "The king was the only person in the country who could exercise such power."

Example Question #111 : Correcting Modifier Placement 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.

Just he was seventeen when he first got arrested, and he was charged with a minor shoplifting violation.

Possible Answers:

He was seventeen when he just first got arrested

Just he was seventeen when he first got arrested

He was seventeen just when he first got arrested

Just seventeen he was when he first got arrested

He was just seventeen when he first got arrested

Correct answer:

He was just seventeen when he first got arrested

Explanation:

The use of "just" at the beginning of the sentence is awkward and confusing, making it unclear what exactly the adjective is modifying. The word makes the most sense if it modifies "seventeen," to emphasize the subject's youth during his "first arrest." "He was just seventeen when he first got arrested" is the answer choice that best makes use of the word "just" by placing it directly before "seventeen."

Example Question #31 : 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 race's winner was actually only the driver to complete the full race.

Possible Answers:

The race's winner was actually only the driver to complete the full race.

The race's winner was actually the only driver to complete the full race.

The race's winner was actually the driver to only complete the full race.

The race's winner was actually the driver only to complete the full race.

The race's winner was only actually the driver to complete the full race.

Correct answer:

The race's winner was actually the only driver to complete the full race.

Explanation:

The placement of "only" in the sentence is confusing and odd, as it seems to imply that the subject was merely the driver who finished. The sentence will make the most sense if "only" is used to show that the winner was the one driver to finish. The sentence which best does this is "The race's winner was actually the only driver to complete the full race."

Example Question #301 : Correcting 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.

The runner was the third person only from his home country to win a medal at the games.

Possible Answers:

only the third person from his home country

the third person from only his home country 

the third person from his home country only

the only third person from his home country

the third person only from his home country

Correct answer:

only the third person from his home country

Explanation:

The use of "only" in the sentence is confusing, and makes it unclear what is being modified by the adjective. The word can be better used by placing it at the front of the underlined phrase to show the subject was the third person from the country; therefore, the correct answer choice is "only the third person from his home country."

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