PSAT Writing : Identifying Preposition Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : 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.

Harold Harrison, the celebrated Olympic athlete, recently decided to retire on the age of twenty-seven. No error.

Possible Answers:

recently

age of twenty-seven

No error.

to retire on

celebrated

Correct answer:

to retire on

Explanation:

This sentence uses a preposition that is not idiomatically correct. We say “retire at” an age and “retire on” some savings, lottery winnings, etc. The corrected sentence reads, "Harold Harrison, the celebrated Olympic athlete, recently decided to retire at the age of twenty-seven."

Example Question #2 : 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.

There are some species of flatworm that, if split down the middle, will become into two new flatwormsNo error.

Possible Answers:

will become into

if split

There are

two new flatworms

No error.

Correct answer:

will become into

Explanation:

This sentence has an extra preposition thrown in it. Things "become" things; they do not "become into" things. The corrected sentence reads, "There are some species of flatworm that, if split down the middle, will become two new flatworms."

Example Question #3 : 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.

Jon, as an avid lover of all animals, decided to protest over the depiction of violence towards dogs, which is becoming increasingly common in feature films. No error

Possible Answers:

lover of all animals

towards

over

becoming 

No error 

Correct answer:

over

Explanation:

As a general idiomatic rule, the verb "protest" always goes with the preposition "against," not "over." Therefore, the phrase should be "protest against," not "protest over."

Example Question #4 : 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.

When the batter made contact with the baseball, it zoomed threw the air like a bullet and flew out of the park. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

out of the 

like 

made contact

threw

Correct answer:

threw

Explanation:

The preposition here should be spelled "through." "Threw" is the past tense singular form of the verb "to throw" and is not appropriate in this sentence. 

Example Question #5 : 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 zoo visitor became startled when he saw the tiger running at him with a crazed look in its eyes. No error

Possible Answers:

at

when

in

No error

became

Correct answer:

at

Explanation:

Idiomatically, a person or animal would not be “running at” something, but rather, “running towards” something. Therefore, the underlined word “at” contains the error in the sentence. 

Example Question #6 : 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.

In choosing between hummus, salsa, and guacamole as a dip to serve with pita chips, most people would say that pita chips are best served with hummus. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

between

salsa, and

are

most

Correct answer:

between

Explanation:

"Between" is used to compare two items, while "among" should be used to compare three or more items. Given that three items (hummus, salsa, and guacamole) are being compared, "among" should be used instead of "between."

Example Question #1 : 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.

For people trying to lose weight, having herbal tea after dinner is a good substitution with dessert. No error

Possible Answers:

with

trying

after

No error

is

Correct answer:

with

Explanation:

Idiomatically, the phrase that should be used here is "substitution for," not "substitution with."

Example Question #8 : 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.

Social media has both allowed some people to become more connected, but at the same time, has contributed to a feeling of loneliness with others. No error

Possible Answers:

both

with

No error

to 

more 

Correct answer:

with

Explanation:

Idiomatically, the underlined part of the sentence should be "for" instead of "with." This is because the proper phrase is "loneliness for others" not "loneliness with others."

Example Question #9 : 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.

Robert's neighbor likes to argue for a wide variety of topics because he is a very contentious person, much to the lament of those around him. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

because

much

for

those

Correct answer:

for

Explanation:

Idiomatically, the verb "argue" should not be accompanied by the preposition "for" unless it is clear that a person is arguing in favor of something. Here, that is not the case. This error would be eliminated if the phrase used was "argue about."

Example Question #10 : 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.

It is shocking for some people to realize that two from three people infected with bronchitis will develop the disease again later in life. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

with 

some people

from

It is

Correct answer:

from

Explanation:

To be grammatically correct, the sentence should read "two out of three," not "two from three." Idiomaticlly, "out of" is appropriate for the context, but "from" is not.

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