PSAT Writing : Identifying Modifier Placement Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Identifying Modifier Placement Errors

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

Barking furiously, the squirrel taunted the dog at the base of the treeNo error.

Possible Answers:

taunted

Barking furiously,

of the tree

No error.

at the base

Correct answer:

Barking furiously,

Explanation:

This sentence has a misplaced modifier, which is a modifying phrase that is not placed next to the noun it modifies. Here, it appears as if the squirrel is barking, not the dog. Shift the word order to make it work: "The squirrel taunted the dog who was barking furiously at the base of the tree."

Example Question #1 : Identifying Dangling Modifier Errors

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

Observing from the summit, the valley that stood below Mike's tour group seemed unfathomably extensive and arid. No error

Possible Answers:

No error 

arid

unfathomably 

Mike's

Observing from the summit,

Correct answer:

Observing from the summit,

Explanation:

“Observing” is apart of a misplaced modifier that should refer to Mike's tour group, not the valley. The way the sentence is written, it seems as if "the valley" is "observing from the summit," not "Mike's tour group."

Example Question #652 : Psat Writing Skills

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

With ears like a rabbit's and a tongue like a frog's, Andrew knew that he had selected the perfect puppy. No error

Possible Answers:

frog's,

he had selected

No error

rabbit's

Andrew

Correct answer:

Andrew

Explanation:

The grammatical problem with this sentence is the dangling modifier before the comma. Since the subject of the first clause is the "perfect puppy," the puppy must also be the subject of the main clause, not Andrew. The other, probably better option, would be to make Andrew the subject of the first clause: "Seeing the rabbit-like ears and frog-like tongue..."

Example Question #2 : Identifying Modifier Placement 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 local coffeeshop’s sudden surge in popularity was largely attributed to them redecorating shark-themedNo error

Possible Answers:

them redecorating shark-themed

The local coffeeshop's

surge in popularity

largely

No error

Correct answer:

them redecorating shark-themed

Explanation:

The last phrase in this sentence is phrased awkwardly. Changing it to an adjective-noun combination makes the sentence run much more smoothly: "The local coffeeshop’s sudden surge in popularity was largely attributed to their shark-themed redecoration."

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