PSAT Writing : Identifying Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #41 : 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 knew all of the information except for the material on the Civil War, that of course was the focus of the exam. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

except for

was

on 

that

Correct answer:

that

Explanation:

This sentence confuses the words “that” and “which.” "That" is used to begin restrictive clauses—clauses that provide necessary information about the sentence's subject and are not set apart from the rest of the sentence by commas. (An example of this would be, "The kitten that had a spot on its nose was Marlene's favorite.") "Which" is used to begin nonrestrictive clauses—clauses that are introduced by commas and provide extra information that could be omitted from the sentence without significantly altering its meaning. (An example would be "The kitten, which had a spot on its nose, slept peacefully.")

In the given sentence, the information "that of course was the focus of the exam" follows a comma, signaling that it is a nonrestrictive clause and should begin with "which," not "that." You could correct the sentence by changing "that" to "which," making it, "I knew all of the information except for the material on the Civil War, which of course was the focus of the exam."

Example Question #91 : 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.

I never admitted it to my daughter, but I lost the little sock puppet which traveled with us throughout Europe, posing in front of historic landmarks. No error

Possible Answers:

which

it

No error

Europe, posing

but

Correct answer:

which

Explanation:

This sentence uses the word "which" where it should use the word "that," so "which" contains the sentence's error and is the correct answer.

"That" is used to signal the start of a restrictive clause, a type of clause that provides necessary information about the sentence's subject and is not set apart from the rest of the sentence by commas. (Example: "The fish that was frying in the pan smelled delicious.") "Which" is used to begin nonrestrictive clauses, which are introduced by commas and provide extraneous information that could be omitted from the sentence without significantly altering its meaning. (Example: "The pancakes, which were warm, were Jenna's favorite part of the breakfast buffet.")

In the given sentence, the phrase "which traveled with us throughout Europe, posing in front of historic landmarks" tells us important information that helps define its referent, so "that" should be used, not "which," making the corrected sentence, "I never admitted it to my daughter, but I lost the little sock puppet that traveled with us throughout Europe, posing in front of historic landmarks."

Example Question #92 : 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 grandmother tells me that its the best time of the year to make homemade apple sauce, but she still won’t pass along her secret recipe. No error

Possible Answers:

still won't pass along

its

tells me

No error

sauce, but

Correct answer:

its

Explanation:

This sentence uses the wrong form of its/it’s. “Its” is a possessive pronoun, while “it’s” is a contraction of “it is.” The latter is what is appropriate here. The corrected sentence reads, "My grandmother tells me that it’s the best time of the year to make homemade apple sauce, but she still won’t pass along her secret recipe."

Example Question #93 : 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.

Before going out in the blizzard, the men put on they're warmest winter coats, scarves, and hatsNo error

Possible Answers:

and hats.

put on

they're

No error

Before

Correct answer:

they're

Explanation:

This is an example of commonly confused words: in this case we need the possessive pronoun "their."

"They're" is a contraction for "They are" and "there" indicates a location.

Example Question #22 : Identifying Preposition Errors

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

While small dogs are more vulnerable then large dogs, they also tend to be more aggressive. No error

Possible Answers:

While

then

are more

also

No error

Correct answer:

then

Explanation:

"Then" is used to describe a sequence of events, while "than" is used to compare two subjects. Here, two subjects are being compared: big and small dogs. Therefore, "than" should be used, not "then."

Example Question #94 : 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.

While I expected giraffes and monkeys at the zoo, I had no idea their were going to be naked mole rats as wellNo error

Possible Answers:

zoo, I

No error

as well

While

their

Correct answer:

their

Explanation:

In this sentence, the incorrect spelling of their/there/they’re is used. “Their” is a possessive pronoun (e.g. their giraffes), while “there” is used for existence (e.g. there are naked mole rats). The corrected sentence reads: While I expected giraffes and monkeys at the zoo, I had no idea there were going to be naked mole rats as well.

Example Question #95 : 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 not the only steadfast rugby player in this school,” remarked Jan. “I found out that Eric Smith also regularly practices the sport.” No error

Possible Answers:

regularly practices 

that

Your

No error

steadfast

Correct answer:

Your

Explanation:

“Your,” which is a possessive pronoun, should be replaced by the contraction “you’re,” which stands for “you are.”

Example Question #91 : 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.

Children who’s parents read to them when they are young grow up with a love for booksNo error

Possible Answers:

who's

read to them

No error

when

a love for books

Correct answer:

who's

Explanation:

This sentence uses the wrong form of who’s/whose. “Who’s” is a contraction of “who is,” and “whose” is the possessive we are looking for here. The corrected sentence reads, "Children whose parents read to them when they are young grow up with a love for books."

Example Question #97 : 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.

I’ll admit that I was a little skeptical about the idea of chickens as pets, but you’re chicken Spike’s friendliness and character took away all of my doubtsNo error

Possible Answers:

all of my doubts

admit that

No error

you're

skeptical

Correct answer:

you're

Explanation:

In this sentence, the wrong version of you’re/your is used. “You’re” is a contraction of “you” and “are,” while “your” is the possessive pronoun that we want in this sentence. The corrected sentence reads, "I’ll admit that I was a little skeptical about the idea of chickens as pets, but you’re chicken Spike’s friendliness and character took away all of my doubts."

Example Question #98 : 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.

The new regulations are too strict; they will neither be affective nor respected by the target demographic. No error

 

Possible Answers:

target demographic

No error

nor

affective

too

Correct answer:

affective

Explanation:

"Affective" is easily confused with "effective." "Affective" means to influence someone emotively, while "effective" means to produce a desired result. 

Here, the problem is that the regulations will not be "effective," or produce the desired result. However, the sentence uses the word "affective," which is not the proper word choice. Therefore, "affective" is the part of the sentence that contains an error.

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