PSAT Writing : Identifying Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Identifying Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

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

Many people are not aware of the duel function of honey; it’s both a natural sweetener and an antiseptic for lesions and other wounds. No error

Possible Answers:

Many people are

No error

it's

duel

honey;

Correct answer:

duel

Explanation:

A "duel” is a fight that adheres to a specific set of rules, while “dual” means having the quality of two. So, "duel" is being incorrectly used in this sentence, and to correct the sentence's error, you would need to replace "duel" with "dual."

Example Question #11 : Identifying Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

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

They're really excited that their are so many flavors to choose from for the birthday cake. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

their

They're

that

to

Correct answer:

their

Explanation:

"Their" is a possessive pronoun that means "belonging to them," but nothing is being possessed by anyone here; the flavors do not belong to anyone in this sentence. "There" would be more appropriate.

Example Question #62 : Identifying Other 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.

Randy warned his children that they’re family would stand out once they moved to Tokyo, simply because of how different they would look compared to many other people in Japan. No error

Possible Answers:

they're

once

his 

No error

how 

Correct answer:

they're

Explanation:

“They’re” is used to abbreviate the phrase “they are,” while “their” is used to show possession.  Since possession is being shown, “their” should be used, not “they’re.”

Example Question #63 : Identifying Other 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.

Even though Sarah knew that going to the basketball game instead of studying was what lead to her bad grade on her math test, she felt it was worth it. No error

Possible Answers:

though

lead

No error

instead of

that

Correct answer:

lead

Explanation:

“Lead” is the present tense form of the verb “to lead” for a plural noun. However, the appropriate form of the verb for the singular subject (Sarah) in the past tense is “led.”

Example Question #64 : Identifying Other 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.

Overexposure to ultraviolet rays has been linked to types of skin cancer, so if your staying outside for a long time, apply sunscreen regularly. No error

Possible Answers:

your

regularly

No error

so

has been linked

Correct answer:

your

Explanation:

"Your" is a possessive pronoun. It should be replaced in the sentence with the contraction for "you are," which is "you're."

Example Question #11 : Identifying Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

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

Weather or not you like stormy whether, I enjoy listening to the thunder, watching the lightning, and hearing the rain plunking against my house's tin roof. No error

Possible Answers:

Weather or not your like stormy whether,

my house's tin roof

No error

against

listening to the thunder, watching the lightning, and hearing the rain

Correct answer:

Weather or not your like stormy whether,

Explanation:

"Weather or not you like stormy whether" contains the sentence's errors. "Weather" is a noun that means atmospheric phenomena like rain, snow, or sleet, and "whether" is a conjunction that presents two options, as in the sentence, "I couldn't decide whether or not to wear my heavy coat that day, because the weather was supposed to start off freezing warm up drastically." So, to correct this sentence's errors, "weather" and "whether" should be switched around, resulting in the sentence, "Whether or not you like stormy weather, I enjoy listening to the thunder, watching the lightning, and hearing the rain plunking against my house's tin roof."

Example Question #66 : Identifying Other 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.

My father came home from a particularly grueling day at work and decided to watch the baseball game on television rather then go for his nightly walk. No error

Possible Answers:

then

No error

decided

from

particularly

Correct answer:

then

Explanation:

To answer this question correctly, you must understand the distinction between the homonyms "then" and "than." "Then" refers to an event that happens after something, as in the sentence, "He came home from work and then watched television." "Than" compares two words or phrases, as in the sentence, "I like chocolate chip cookies more than peanut butter cookies."  So, "than" is the correct word to use in this situation, and "then" should be changed to "than" to correct the sentence's error.

Example Question #67 : Identifying Other 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.

That is a hotly contested issue in American politics, and politicians often exacerbate the debate with there inflammatory speeches. No error

Possible Answers:

exacerbate

No error

there

inflammatory

hotly

Correct answer:

there

Explanation:

The sentence uses "there" incorrectly. This is an easy mistake to look over since "there," "their," and "they're" are all homonyms—words that sound the same but have different meanings. The speeches politicians make about the issue belong to the politicians, so the proper form is "their," the possessive pronoun.

Example Question #68 : Identifying Other 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.

Your mother's signature cookie recipe is incredibly delicious, and I'm incredibly jealous that your lucky enough to enjoy those sweet treats whenever you want them! No error

Possible Answers:

whenever

No error

to

your

mother's

Correct answer:

your

Explanation:

The key here is to distinguish between the homonyms "your" and "you're." 

"Your" is a possessive pronoun identifying something that belongs to you. The first usage here is correct because "your mother" refers to the mother that belongs to you.

"You're" is a contraction that combines "you" and "are," and this would be the correct choice for the second usage, making the corrected sentence "Your mother's signature cookie recipe is incredibly delicious, and I'm incredibly jealous that you're lucky enough to enjoy those sweet treats whenever you want them!"

Example Question #69 : Identifying Other 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.

Even though its only February, I am already excited for summer break and warmer weather. No error

Possible Answers:

its

already

No error

only February

warmer

Correct answer:

its

Explanation:

This is an incorrect form of the word "its." Here, the sentence uses the possessive pronoun form of "its," but there is nothing being possessed here. Instead, this sentence needs to use "it's," the contracted form of "it is," to be grammatically correct.  The corrected sentence reads, "Even though it's only February, I am already excited for summer break and warmer weather."

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