PSAT Writing : Identifying Sentence Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Identifying Quotation Mark Errors

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

Liam told his study group that "he needed to take a break from studying," so the group's members all decided to get sandwiches before beginning to take notes on the textbook's next chapter. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

the textbook's

"he needed to take a break from studying,"

the group's members

before beginning to take notes on

Correct answer:

"he needed to take a break from studying,"

Explanation:

This sentence incorrectly uses quotation marks to set off an indirect quotation from the sentence when no quotation marks are needed. If the sentence said "Liam told his study group, 'I need to take a break from studying,'" then quotation marks would be necessary. However, because the sentence is indirectly telling us what Liam said, and not giving us his exact words, no quotation marks are needed.  Removing the quotation marks around "he needed to take a break from studying" would correct the sentence's error.

Example Question #1 : Identifying Quotation Mark Errors

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

"Help me lift this", she whispered, knowing the request would be her last if she were overheard. No error

Possible Answers:

this", she

No error

would be

me

were

Correct answer:

this", she

Explanation:

Punctuation always goes inside the quotation marks in American English.

Example Question #1 : Identifying Other Punctuation Errors

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

Is vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry your favorite flavor of ice cream, or do you prefer another flavor. No error

Possible Answers:

do you prefer

your favorite flavor of ice cream

No error

another flavor.

vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry

Correct answer:

another flavor.

Explanation:

The issue here has to do with punctuation. This sentence needs to end with a question mark because it is a question. The corrected sentence reads, "Is vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry your favorite flavor of ice cream, or do you prefer another flavor?"

Example Question #1 : Identifying Other Punctuation Errors

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

How did Bosco the chihuahua get her name. The story begins with an act of heroism, a great surprise, and a feast of tamales. No error

Possible Answers:

name. 

tamales.

The

, and

No error

Correct answer:

name. 

Explanation:

"How did Bosco the chihuahua get her name?" is a rhetorical question and must be punctuated with a question mark. The rest of the sentence is correct as written.

Example Question #1 : Identifying No Error Questions

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

The movement to build a community garden in the empty lot was slowly gaining momentum, and Mrs. Higgins was already excitedly asking nurseries to donate plants. No error.

Possible Answers:

in the empty lot

excitedly

to build

was

No error.

Correct answer:

No error.

Explanation:

This sentence is correct as written! The verb “to build” is correct in the infinitive, “in the empty lot” is an appropriate prepositional phrase, “was” is a verb in the correct tense, and “excitedly” is an adverb that modifies a verb. 

Example Question #3 : 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.

The bright red of a matador’s cape does not incite bulls to charge; cattle do not perceive red as a bright colorNo error.

Possible Answers:

as a bright color

bright red

No error.

does not incite

perceive

Correct answer:

No error.

Explanation:

This sentence is correct as written! “Bright red” works here as a noun, “does not incite” is a verb that matches its subject, “perceive” is a verb that is correctly formed, and “as a bright color” is an appropriate prepositional phrase.

Example Question #1 : Identifying Other Errors Or No Error

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

The general blatantly ignored the lessons of history and commanded his army to invade Russia in the winterNo error.

Possible Answers:

blatantly

No error.

and commanded

in the winter

to invade

Correct answer:

No error.

Explanation:

This sentence is correct as written! “Blatantly” is an adverb that modifies a verb, “and commanded” uses parallel structure, “to invade” is correct as an infinitive, and “in the winter” is a correctly formed prepositional phrase.

Example Question #1 : Identifying No Error Questions

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

As globalizing forces reach out to remote corners of the globe, some worry that we will become a homogenous universal culture. No error.

Possible Answers:

No error.

reach out to 

globalizing

will become

some

Correct answer:

No error.

Explanation:

This sentence is correct as written! “Globalizing” can be used as an adjective, “reach out to” uses the correct prepositions following the verb, “some” is an appropriate pronoun, and “will become” correctly uses future tense.

Example Question #2 : 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.

The first landing of a man on the moon, a feat that many people considered impossible, was a historical highlight of the 1960s. No error. 

Possible Answers:

historical

first landing

that

No error.

considered impossible

Correct answer:

No error.

Explanation:

This sentence is correct as written! “First landing” is an appropriate adjective-noun combination, “that” is the correct relative pronoun, “considered impossible” is an appropriate verb-adjective combination, and “historical” is an adjective that correctly modifies a noun.

Example Question #1 : Identifying No Error Questions

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

A born performer, Maria would much rather sing and dance on stage all day than work in her isolated cubicleNo error.

Possible Answers:

would

than work in her isolated cubicle

No error.

on stage

A born performer

Correct answer:

No error.

Explanation:

This sentence is correct as written! “A born performer” is a correctly placed phrase modifying “Maria,” “would” is appropriate use of the conditional voice, “on stage” is the correct idiom, and “than work in her isolated cubicle” is a correctly-formed comparison.

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