PSAT Writing : Identifying Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #99 : 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 sister has always loved to watch the swimmers in the Olympics when she was younger, so its no surprise that they inspired her to become an amazing athlete and win every race she ever swam during high school. No error

Possible Answers:

has always loved

its

No error

that they

she ever swam

Correct answer:

its

Explanation:

"Its" and "it's" are a pair of homonyms that are often confused. Without the apostrophe, "its" is the possessive form of the pronoun "it." On the other hand, "it's" is the contraction of "it" and "is." In this sentence, "it is no surprise" captures the sentence's meaning, but the possessive form of the pronoun "it" does not make any sense. So, "its" is the part of the sentence that contains the error.

Example Question #51 : 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.

John and Susan were disappointed when they heard the rain, because they knew that they're soccer game would be canceled. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

were disappointed

heard

knew

they're

Correct answer:

they're

Explanation:

"They're" is a contraction which means "they are." The correct form in this case is the possessive pronoun "their." So, "they're" contains the sentence's error.

Example Question #101 : 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 hand jive is a dance from the '50s where one slaps and claps one's hands to the beat. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

one's

is

'50s

where

Correct answer:

where

Explanation:

"Where" speaks to location. In this sentence, the clause should be "during which" or "in which." Note that '50s is appropriate: it is never "50's."

Example Question #51 : 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 last question, that was asked by the town’s famously off-kilter librarian, addressed the completely irrelevant issue of protection against government spyingNo error

Possible Answers:

that

government spying

No error

famously

issue of

Correct answer:

that

Explanation:

This sentence uses “that” where “which” is more appropriate. Use “which” for added information, after a comma. The corrected sentence reads, "The last question, which was asked by the town’s famously off-kilter librarian, addressed the completely irrelevant issue of protection against government spying."

Example Question #471 : Identifying Sentence 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.

Judging from there aversion to loud noises, I doubt that the cats will enjoy having three toddlers running amokNo error

Possible Answers:

will enjoy having

loud

running amok

there

No error

Correct answer:

there

Explanation:

This sentence uses the wrong version of there/their. The possessive “their” is appropriate in this case. The corrected sentence reads, "Judging from their aversion to loud noises, I doubt that the cats will enjoy having three toddlers running amok."

Example Question #302 : Identifying 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.

Starters are not meant to fill diners up, but to wet their appetite before a substantial entrée is served. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

substantial 

wet

is served

their

Correct answer:

wet

Explanation:

“Wet” means to moisten or dampen. “Whet,” however, means to stimulate or awaken. In this case, we are looking for the verb “whet.”

Example Question #303 : Identifying 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 resolute comedian did not seem phased by the audience’s disparaging comments; he remained focused despite their attacks. No error

Possible Answers:

their

phased

disparaging

resolute

No error

Correct answer:

phased

Explanation:

The verb “phased” stems from the noun “phase” (a stage of development). The correct spelling in this case is “fazed,” which means unnerved or disturbed. The comedian was not fazed, meaning he was not bothered by the insults.

Example Question #304 : Identifying 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.

Mrs. Davis insisted on running to the corner store for a court of milk so she could bake her reputed lemon loaf. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

on

running

reputed

court

Correct answer:

court

Explanation:

A “court” is an official legal building or a place where sports are played. “Quart,” on the other hand, is a unit used to measure liquids.

Example Question #305 : Identifying 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.

Though the surfer was hoping to ride the tidal wave, he soon realized that it was slightly to high for him to master. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

was hoping

for him

that

to

Correct answer:

to

Explanation:

“To” is a preposition (as in the sentence “I’m going to school”), while “too” means excessively. We can deduce that the wave was “too high” for the surfer to ride. 

Example Question #472 : Identifying Sentence Errors

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

Nancy brought over the most heavenly-smelling batch of pecan rolls, that would have been lovely if I weren’t allergic to both nuts and glutenNo error

Possible Answers:

lovely

No error

both nuts and gluten

brought over

that

Correct answer:

that

Explanation:

This sentence mixes up the words “that” and “which.” “Which” is used to start a phrase that provides additional information after a comma. The content of a which-phrase is loosely connected to the content of the main phrase, and the sentence would still make sense if the information contained in the phrase were omitted. “That” directly follows the word it’s modifying, with no comma intervening. The corrected sentence reads, "Nancy brought over the most heavenly-smelling batch of pecan rolls, which would have been lovely if I weren’t allergic to both nuts and gluten."

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