PSAT Writing : Identifying Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #31 : 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 doctor told his patient that he felt that there was an excess of nurses in the office, that was causing some crowding. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

said to

that

there

in 

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 part of the sentence before the comma is being modified by the part of the sentence after the comma. Therefore, “which” is appropriate, not “that.”

Example Question #32 : 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.

Geese are animals who are known for their loyalty; a male goose will never abandon its partner, even under the most extreme circumstances. No error

Possible Answers:

their

No error

its

loyalty; a male goose

who

Correct answer:

who

Explanation:

“Who” should be replaced by “that” because geese are not human, and the pronoun "who" is only used to refer to humans.

Example Question #33 : 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.

Even though the library had a number of fantasy novels, it did not have the one which Bill was looking for. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

had

it

which

Even though 

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, "which" is not preceded by a comma, so "that" is the more appropriate choice.

Example Question #34 : 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 chef was frustrated to see that his assistants had not replaced the saffron, that is a very expensive spice. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

was

very 

that

had not

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, “saffron” is being modified by the part of the sentence after the comma. Therefore, “which” is appropriate, not “that.”

Example Question #35 : 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.

Jared was very happy when his parents said that they enjoyed the independent film, that Bill had helped to produce. No error

Possible Answers:

that

when

No error

they

was

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, “independent film” is being modified by the part of the sentence that follows the comma. Therefore, “which” is appropriate, not “that.”

Example Question #31 : Identifying Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

Identifying sentence errors. Identify any error you find in an underlined portion of the passage. If you can find no errors, select "no error" as your answer choice.

The state of California, that is large, has millions of residents. No error

Possible Answers:

that

residents

No error

has millions

state of

Correct answer:

that

Explanation:

Instead of "that," in this sentence the word "which" would be appropriate, since this is a non-restrictive relative clause. A non-restrictive relative clause has a noun that is already fully identified, but then adds additional information. Here, we already know that we're discussing the state of California, so its largeness is non-restrictive. "That" only works in restrictive clauses, i.e. those that refer to the noun, and which are never set off by commas.

Example Question #37 : 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.

My cat, that has orange and white stripes, enjoys consuming food made for human beings, like bread and noodles. No error

Possible Answers:

like

that

No error

has

consuming

Correct answer:

that

Explanation:

In this sentence, "that" should be replaced with "which" because the phrase it introduces ("has orange and white stripes") is non-essential—that is, the phrase can be removed from the sentence without altering its meaning. "That" should be used with essential words or phrases, meaning that such phrases must be in the sentence for a reader's to understand it properly. An example of an essential phrase would be "The painting that the thief stole last night is still missing." To say "The painting is still missing" would leave out essential information - that it's missing because a thief stole it last night.

Example Question #31 : 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 house on the corner near the evergreens has a gabled roof, that has always appealed to AnnaNo error

Possible Answers:

to Anna

near the evergreens

No error

that

has

Correct answer:

that

Explanation:

Information that is added in a phrase that follows a comma should begin with "which," not "that." "That" is used at the start of a phrase not preceded by a comma that, if removed from a sentence, causes the sentence to not make sense. "Which," on the other hand, is used to begin a phrase that is set apart from the sentence by a comma and can be removed from the sentence without causing it to not make sense. IN this case, "that" should be changed to "which," since omitting the comma is not an option.

Example Question #39 : 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 were very excited because they had baked their friend a triple layer chocolate cake which they knew he was going to loveNo error

Possible Answers:

had baked

very excited

No error

which

was going to love

Correct answer:

which

Explanation:

Use “which” for added information after a comma. “That” is for cases like this, where the information is an important part of the sentence and there is no comma. The corrected sentence reads, "They were very excited because they had baked their friend a triple layer chocolate cake that they knew he was going to love."

Example Question #40 : 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.

Maria's favorite cupcake was the one which was topped with coconut frosting and had papaya wedges in the middleNo error

Possible Answers:

was

No error

in the middle

which

and papaya

Correct answer:

which

Explanation:

“Which” is used to signal modification to a phrase when the modifying dependent clause comes after a comma. “That” is used to signal modification to a phrase in which there is not a comma after the subject being modified. Here, the subject being modified ("one" in reference to the cupcake) does not have a comma after it. Therefore, “that” is appropriate, not “which.”

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