PSAT Writing : Identifying Sentence Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #3 : Identifying Parallel Structure 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 she could leave work on Friday afternoon, Laura was told to finish entering the week’s data, start setting up for the upcoming event, and taking out the trash. No error.

Possible Answers:

could leave

entering the week's data

No error.

Laura was told to

taking out the trash

Correct answer:

taking out the trash

Explanation:

This sentence has a problem with parallel structure. Each element in the list should be formatted in the same way grammatically, but the verbs read “finish . . . start . . . taking.” The last one shouldn’t be an "-ing" verb. The corrected sentence reads, "Before she could leave work on Friday afternoon, Laura was told to finish entering the week’s data, start setting up for the upcoming event, and take out the trash."

Example Question #1 : Identifying Parallel Structure 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 would rather make my own ice cream than store-boughtNo error.

Possible Answers:

my own

make

would rather

No error.

than store-bought

Correct answer:

than store-bought

Explanation:

This sentence compares two unlike things: the action of making ice cream and the description of “store-bought.” Structure these two things similarly for the sentence to make more sense: "I would rather make my own ice cream than buy it from the store."

Example Question #1 : Identifying Phrase, Clause, And 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.

With wit, candor, and smiling captivatingly, the performer entranced the audience in the small dinner theaterNo error.

Possible Answers:

small dinner theater

With

entranced

smiling captivatingly

No error.

Correct answer:

smiling captivatingly

Explanation:

This sentence does not employ proper parallel structure between the items in its list. The first two are nouns ("wit" and "candor"), but the third is a verb ("smiling captivatingly"). Make this a noun for the sentence to run more smoothly: "With wit, candor, and a captivating smile, the performer entranced the audience in the small dinner theater."

Example Question #6 : Identifying Parallel Structure Errors

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

Plane ticket prices fluctuate wildly, and it is never quite clear why one seat costs several hundred dollars more than another plane. No error.

Possible Answers:

why one seat costs

more than another plane

fluctuate wildly

it is

No error.

Correct answer:

more than another plane

Explanation:

This sentence has an illogical comparison. It is comparing a seat to a plane, but it means to compare two seats on different planes. The corrected sentence reads, "Plane ticket prices fluctuate wildly, and it is never quite clear why one seat costs several hundred dollars more than another."

Example Question #121 : 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.

The facade of Mary's Victorian-style mansion is in much worse shape than PollyNo error.

Possible Answers:

The facade

much worse

Mary's Victorian-style mansion

No error.

than Polly

Correct answer:

than Polly

Explanation:

This sentence has an illogical comparison. It means to compare the facade on Mary’s house to that on Polly’s, but instead it compares the facade to Polly herself. The corrected sentence reads, "The facade of Mary's Victorian-style mansion is in much worse shape than that of Polly's."

Example Question #2 : Identifying Phrase, Clause, And 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 hummus sold at the corner market is organic, locally-made, and tastes deliciousNo error.

Possible Answers:

locally-made

No error.

sold

at the corner market

tastes delicious

Correct answer:

tastes delicious

Explanation:

This sentence has a problem with parallel structure. The first two elements in the list are adjectives, but the third is a verb-adjective combination. It is better to keep these consistent. The corrected sentence reads, "The hummus sold at the corner market is organic, locally-made, and delicious."

Example Question #1 : Identifying Parallel Structure Errors

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

After school, the children went to the park, to the store, and home. No error

Possible Answers:

the park

the children went

No error

and home

After

Correct answer:

and home

Explanation:

"Home" contains the error in this sentence because parallel sentence structure dictates that each part in a series must use the same type of word and employ the same tense, if the words are verbs. In this case, the first two parts in the series are prepositional phrases ("to the park" and "to the store"), but the third part is a noun "home." Because only part of one of the prepositional phrases is underlined, we can't change them, so we would need to change the noun, "home," to correct the sentence's error.

Example Question #2 : Identifying Parallel Structure 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 Lisa to change her email settings, she had to log in, choose "settings" and then clicked on "preferences." No error

Possible Answers:

clicked

had to 

choose

to 

No error

Correct answer:

clicked

Explanation:

Given that two of the three verbs in the series are in the present tense ("choose" and "log in"), it follows that "clicked" should also be in the present tense, not the past tense, in order to conform with the rest of the sentence. 

Example Question #3 : Identifying Parallel Structure Errors

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

Rebecca likes to spend time with her son by participating in his activities, like riding bikes, playing video games and she watches his favorite movies. No error

Possible Answers:

in 

with her son

likes to 

she watches

No error

Correct answer:

she watches

Explanation:

In the list of activities that Rebecca participates in with her son, two items are gerunds, or verbs being used as nouns ("riding" and "playing"), whereas "she watches" is a noun and a verb. Therefore, "she watches" does not fit with the parallel structure of the list, and should instead be changed to "watching."

Example Question #4 : Identifying Parallel Structure 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 her art class, Gina learned how to paint, photograph moving subjects, and molding sculptures. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

photograph

her

how to 

molding

Correct answer:

molding

Explanation:

It is important for a sentence containing a list to employ correct parallelism, which means that listed items should take on the same grammatical form. The first two items in the list are infinitives (Gina learned "to paint" and "photograph"). Therefore, “molding” should be changed to the infinitive "mold" so that it matches the other two infinitives in the list.

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