PSAT Writing : Identifying Sentence Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #6 : Identifying Other Conjunction Errors

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

As his friends cut the triple layer chocolate cake, the author felt cheerful but newly energizedNo error

Possible Answers:

As

felt

but

newly energized

No error

Correct answer:

but

Explanation:

This sentence uses the wrong coordinating conjunction. Since “cheerful” and “newly energized” are similar, the conjunction “and” should be used. The corrected sentence reads, "As his friends cut the triple layer chocolate cake, the author felt cheerful and newly energized."

Example Question #7 : Identifying Other Conjunction Errors

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

Unlike his mentor, acheiving the title of "partner" by the time he was thirty years old, Jon does not think that he will acheive this position until he is at least forty years old. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

at least

he will acheive

his

acheiving

Correct answer:

acheiving

Explanation:

The error exists in the underlined portion of the sentence, "achieving." In order to explain the background of who the mentor is, it is not sufficient to place a comma after "mentor" without a transition, such as "who achieved." Simply using the word "achieving" is not sufficient. Therefore, "achieving" is the correct answer. 

Example Question #1 : Identifying Conjunction 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 choice between relationships or space travel can be excruciating to makeNo error.

Possible Answers:

No error.

The choice

to make

or space travel

excruciating 

Correct answer:

or space travel

Explanation:

This sentence uses the wrong conjunction between “relationships” and “space travel.” If you use “between,” you also need to use the conjunction “and.” The corrected sentence reads, "The choice between relationships and space travel can be excruciating to make."

Example Question #2 : Identifying Conjunction 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 neighborhood’s changing cultural landscape is evident in everything from the people walking down the sidewalks and the products carried in the corner markets. No error.

Possible Answers:

products carried

neighborhood’s changing cultural landscape

evident in

and 

No error.

Correct answer:

and 

Explanation:

This sentence has a problem with coordination. When “from” is used, it should trigger “to” as the coordinator between examples. That is, the phrasing should be "from (noun) to (other noun)" instead of "from (noun) and (other noun)." The corrected sentence reads, "The neighborhood’s changing cultural landscape is evident in everything from the people walking down the sidewalks to the products carried in the corner markets."

Example Question #1 : Identifying Correlative Conjunction Errors

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

Neither the teachers or the students were told that the famous actor and actress would be visiting the school until the day before the visit; it was hard to tell which group was the more excited one when everyone found out. No error

Possible Answers:

Neither the teachers or the students were

until the day before the visit; it was hard to tell

the more excited one

the famous actor and actress would be visiting

No error

Correct answer:

Neither the teachers or the students were

Explanation:

When using the word "neither" to introduce one of two things in a negative fashion, one needs to introduce the other thing using the word "nor," not "or." So, the correct answer is, "Neither the teachers nor the students were told that the famous actor and actress would be visiting the school until the day before the visit; it was hard to tell which group was the more excited one when everyone found out."

Example Question #51 : 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 distinction between "all-natural" or "organic" is something consumers often fail to recognizeNo error

Possible Answers:

is

often

or

fail to recognize

No error

Correct answer:

or

Explanation:

The word "between" always triggers the conjunction "and." Here, "or" is used instead. The corrected sentence reads, "The distinction between "all-natural" and "organic" is something consumers often fail to recognize."

Example Question #2 : Identifying Correlative Conjunction Errors

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

Neither the aliens who were invading or the people who were being invaded really understood what was happeningNo error

Possible Answers:

were being

or

No error

what was happening

who

Correct answer:

or

Explanation:

This sentence has a problem with coordinators. If “neither” is used, it triggers the use of “nor.” The corrected sentence reads: Neither the aliens who were invading nor the people who were being invaded really understood what was happening.

Example Question #3 : Identifying Correlative Conjunction Errors

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

Neither the dog or the cat could climb the trees outside the house, for the trees were too tallNo error

Possible Answers:

or

outside the house

too tall

no error

were

Correct answer:

or

Explanation:

The proper conjunction here would be "nor," as it agrees with "neither."

Example Question #4 : Identifying Correlative Conjunction Errors

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

Choosing between the carrot cake with cream cheese frosting or the marble cake with chocolate ganache was an agonizing decision. No error

Possible Answers:

was

Choosing

No error

agonizing

or

Correct answer:

or

Explanation:

This sentence does not follow conventions regarding the use of phrase “between X and Y.” The conjunction “and,” not “or,” should always be used when setting up a sentence using "between" to describe a choice or a comparison. The corrected sentence reads, "Choosing between the carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and the marble cake with chocolate ganache was an agonizing decision."

Example Question #5 : Identifying Correlative Conjunction Errors

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

Because it is not a holiday, neither the church or the bank is closed early. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

is

holiday

or

Because

Correct answer:

or

Explanation:

"Neither" always takes "nor," never "or." It may be tempting to choose "is." Neither may use plural or singular verbs, depending on the plural or singular quality of the subjects it refers to.

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