PSAT Writing : Identifying Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #261 : 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.

It was so great to here from you last weekend; we need to make these lunches happen more often! No error

Possible Answers:

so great

here

last weekend

these lunches

No error

Correct answer:

here

Explanation:

"Here" is an adverb that means in this current location, but the sentence is using it as if it were the verb "hear," which means recognize sounds from or listen to.

Example Question #21 : 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.

Driving to the supermarket is normally much faster then walking there, but since Irene lives on the same street, she always saves gas by walking. No error

Possible Answers:

Driving

she

No error

then

faster

Correct answer:

then

Explanation:

To catch this sentence's error, you must understand the distinction between the homonyms "then" and "than." "Then" refers to an event that happens after something, as in the sentence, "She went to the movies and then to the store." "Than" compares two words or phrases, as in the sentence, "Driving is much faster than walking." To correct the sentence's error, "then" should be changed to "than."

Example Question #22 : 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.

I’m not sure who’s jacket this is, but I bet its owner is looking for it,” he said as he dug through the lost-and-found bin at his high school on a cold November morning. No error

Possible Answers:

its

No error

I'm

who's

through

Correct answer:

who's

Explanation:

You must understand the distinction between common homonyms to pick out the error in this sentence, particularly between "its" and "it's," as well as between "whose" and "who's." "Its" is a possessive pronoun, identifying something that belongs to "it," so the phrase "I bet its owner is looking for it" is correct. You can eliminate that answer choice from your options. However, "who's" is a contraction of the words "who" and "is," which does not fit in this sentence ("I'm not sure who is jacket this is" wouldn't make sense) and is therefore an error. "Whose" is a possessive pronoun, signaling that the noun belongs to someone, so that would be the correct form here. ("I'm not sure whose jacket this is").

Example Question #23 : 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.

The worst affect of the medication I was taking last year was the drowsiness it caused. No error

Possible Answers:

was

affect

taking

No error

caused

Correct answer:

affect

Explanation:

"Affect" and "effect" are two commonly confused homonyms. The best way to remember the difference between them is to remember that one is used most often as a noun and the other as a verb. "Affect" is a verb that means to influence something, while "effect" is a noun that means the result of something. ("Effect" can also be used as a verb that means to cause, as in the phrase "effect change.") One should use the word "effect," not the word "affect," in this sentence.

Example Question #24 : 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.

After going to her friend's birthday party eating two large slices of chocolate cake, Jennie realized that she had eaten to much when her stomach began to make odd gurgling noises. No error

Possible Answers:

to make odd gurgling noises

two

No error

to much

to her friend's birthday party

Correct answer:

to much

Explanation:

This sentence's error has to do with the homonyms "to," two," and "too." The "two" in "two large slices of chocolate cake" is correct; this form of the word refers to the whole number greater than one but less than three. The "to" in "to her friend's birthday party" is also correctly used; this "to" is being used as a preposition. The "to" in "to make odd gurgling noises" is also correctly used because it is part of an infinitive verb, "to make." The "to" in "eaten to much" is incorrect, however; to correct the sentence, one would need to change this "to" to "too," which is used to mean in excess or in an amount that is greater than what is needed or desired.

Example Question #25 : 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.

First, she climbed up to the treehouse using the rope ladder, and than she drew up the ladder into the treehouse so that no one could follow herNo error

Possible Answers:

so that no one could follow her

No error

and than she

using the rope ladder,

First, she

Correct answer:

and than she

Explanation:

This sentence's error is its use of "than," a word that is used to form comparisons like "He is taller than her," where it needs to use "then," which is a word that designates a specified time in a sequence in the past, as in the sentence "I almost bought the giant purple trampoline for my apartment, but then I decided not to." To correct this sentence, "than" should be changed to "then."

Example Question #26 : 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.

Whose book is this?” she asked inquisitively, flipping through the novel’s tattered pages and hoping to find it’s owner’s initials. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

inquisitively

Whose

it's

to

Correct answer:

it's

Explanation:

You must understand the distinction between the homonyms "its" and "it's" to correctly answer this question. "It's" is a contraction of "it" and "is" and is used in sentences like "It's too early to go to sleep." "Its," on the other hand, is a possessive pronoun, identifying something that belongs to "it." "Its" is used in sentences like "The cat played with its toy." So, to correct this sentence's error, "it's" needs to be changed to "its."

Example Question #27 : 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.

Joshua studied all the subjects in his biology book to prepare for the final exam except for mitochondria, that unfortunately were the subject of an important essay on the test. No error

 

Possible Answers:

that

of

to 

No error

all the

Correct answer:

that

Explanation:

"Which” is used to show that there is modification to a phrase when the modification comes after a comma. “That” is used to show that there is a modification to a phrase in which there is not a comma after the subject being modified. Here, the subject being modified is “mitochondria,” and is followed by a comma. Therefore, the word modifying that subject should be “which.”

Example Question #21 : 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.

The young terrier got along very well with a kitten which was very small and skittish around most other animals. No error

Possible Answers:

and

got along

No error

most other

which

Correct answer:

which

Explanation:

“Which” is used to show that there is modification to a phrase when the modification comes after a comma. “That” is used to show that there is a modification to a phrase in which a comma does not follow the subject being modified. Here, the subject being modified is “kitten,” but there is no comma after it. Therefore, “that” is appropriate, not “which.”

Example Question #29 : 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.

The key to writing a good essay is preparation and forethought, that is something that is challenging to many students. No error

Possible Answers:

that

key to 

and

No error

challenging

Correct answer:

that

Explanation:

“Which” is used to show that there is modification to a phrase when the modification comes after a comma. “That” is used to show that there is a modification to a phrase in which there is not a comma after the subject being modified. Here, the first part of the sentence preceding the comma is the part that is being modified. Therefore, "which" should be used instead of "that."

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