PSAT Writing : Correcting Appositive and Interrupting Phrase Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Correcting Appositive And Interrupting Phrase 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.

Jimmy was afraid that Butch the biggest bully in school wanted to fight him on the playground; Jimmy did not have a death wish!

Possible Answers:

Jimmy was afraid that Butch, the biggest bully in school wanted to fight him on the playground; Jimmy did not have a death wish!

Jimmy, was afraid that Butch, the biggest bully in school wanted to fight him on the playground; Jimmy did not have a death wish!

Jimmy was afraid that Butch the biggest bully in school wanted to fight him on the playground; Jimmy did not have a death wish!

Jimmy was afraid that Butch the biggest bully in school, wanted to fight him on the playground; Jimmy did not have a death wish!

Jimmy was afraid that Butch, the biggest bully in school, wanted to fight him on the playground; Jimmy did not have a death wish!

Correct answer:

Jimmy was afraid that Butch, the biggest bully in school, wanted to fight him on the playground; Jimmy did not have a death wish!

Explanation:

An appositive phrase sits next to a noun and renames it. An appositive phrase is surrounded by commas, and the sentence would still be grammatically correct if it were taken out. Because the appositive phrase "the biggest bully in school" renames "Butch" it should have a comma at the beginning and a comma at the end, making the correct sentence "Jimmy was afraid that Butch, the biggest bully in school, wanted to fight him on the playground; Jimmy did not have a death wish!" Note that while a period would not be incorrect in this instance, the exclamation point is also, technically, grammatically correct, and also note that a semicolon is correctly used to connect two independent clauses.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Appositive And Interrupting Phrase Errors

Select the option that best replaces the underlined word or phrase. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. one of the leading activists in America's Civil Rights Movement delivered, speeches that continue to inspire listeners more than 40 years later. 

Possible Answers:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the leading activists in America's Civil Rights Movement, delivered speeches that continue to inspire listeners more than 40 years later. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. one of the leading activists in America's Civil Rights Movement delivered speeches that continue to inspire listeners more than 40 years later. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the leading activists in America's Civil Rights Movement delivered speeches that continue to inspire listeners more than 40 years later. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. one of the leading activists in America's Civil Rights Movement delivered, speeches that continue to inspire listeners more than 40 years later. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the leading activists in America's Civil Rights Movement delivered, speeches that continue to inspire listeners more than 40 years later. 

Correct answer:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the leading activists in America's Civil Rights Movement, delivered speeches that continue to inspire listeners more than 40 years later. 

Explanation:

An appositive phrase sits next to a noun and renames it. An appositive phrase is surrounded by commas, and the sentence would still be grammatically correct if it were taken out. Because the appositive phrase "one of the leading activists in America's Civil Rights Movement" renames "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.," it should have a comma at the beginning and a comma at the end, making the correct sentence "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the leading activists in America's Civil Rights Movement, delivered speeches that continue to inspire listeners more than 40 years later." In the example sentence, the comma was incorrectly placed after a word that was not a part of the appositive phrase.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Appositive And Interrupting Phrase 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.

Cindy found that she like her older brothers, enjoyed collecting art more than creating it.

Possible Answers:

Cindy found that she like her older brothers, enjoyed collecting art more than creating it.

Cindy found that she, like her older brothers as well, enjoying to collect art more than creating it.

Cindy found that, she like her older brothers, enjoyed collecting art more than creating it.

Cindy found that she, like her older brothers, enjoyed collecting art more than creating it.

Cindy found, like her older brothers, enjoyed collecting art more than creating it.

Correct answer:

Cindy found that she, like her older brothers, enjoyed collecting art more than creating it.

Explanation:

In this sentence, the subject is "Cindy," also referred to with the pronoun "she." The phrase "like her older brothers" is an interrupting phrase, giving additional information that is not necessary for the sentence to be grammatically complete. Therefore, this phrase should be separated from the main clause with two commas. The correct answer choice separates the interrupting phrase without introducing any new errors.

Example Question #2 : Correcting Appositive And Interrupting Phrase 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.

Maura along with the rest of her school's swimming and soccer teams, had taken months to prepare for the intramural sports meet.

Possible Answers:

Maura along, with the rest of her school's swimming and soccer teams, had taken months to prepare for the intramural sports meet.

Maura along with the rest of her school's swimming and soccer teams, had taken months to prepare for the intramural sports meet.

Maura along with the rest of her school's swimming and soccer teams had taken months to prepare for the intramural sports meet.

Maura, along with the rest of her school's swimming and soccer teams had taken months to prepare, for the intramural sports meet.

Maura, along with the rest of her school's swimming and soccer teams, had taken months to prepare for the intramural sports meet.

Correct answer:

Maura, along with the rest of her school's swimming and soccer teams, had taken months to prepare for the intramural sports meet.

Explanation:

The phrase "along with the rest of her school's swimming and soccer teams" gives additional information that should be set off from the subject and predicate of the sentence with commas. It is an interrupting phrase, and the correct answer choice separates it from the subject of the sentence, "Maura." The sentence, as it is written currently, misuses a comma, separating the subject of the sentence from the verb. 

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