PSAT Writing : Identifying Sentence Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

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.

The detective knew someone at the bakery committed a crime, but neither the baker or the customer would confess. No error

Possible Answers:

The detective

someone

or

No error

the customer

Correct answer:

or

Explanation:

The example sentence incorrectly uses "or" as a correlative conjunction to "neither," which is incorrect. The correct conjunction to match "neither" is "nor."

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.

John enjoys foods from many different culinary backgrounds, so it will be difficult for him to choose which dish he likes better between the Japanese sushi rolls or the Thai curry. No error

Possible Answers:

from

No error

which dish

or

so it will

Correct answer:

or

Explanation:

Given that John is choosing between two different options and the sentence uses the word "between" to describe his choosing between these options, "and" should be used to describe his selection of options, not "or."

Example Question #1 : Identifying Subordinate 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.

Marie aspired to be a professional opera singer someday, and she could not be bothered to practice every day. No error.

Possible Answers:

could not be bothered

aspired to be

No error.

and

every day

Correct answer:

and

Explanation:

The logic of this sentence calls for a different conjunction. Since the two parts of the sentence are contradictory, “but” would be more appropriate. The corrected sentence reads, "Marie aspired to be a professional opera singer someday, but she could not be bothered to practice every day."

Example Question #1 : Identifying Subordinate 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.

Some experts have proposed that one’s physical health may have more to do with genetics then diet, exercise habits, or lifestyle choices. No error.

Possible Answers:

or

to do with

then

No error.

one's

Correct answer:

then

Explanation:

“Then” is used to describe a sequence of events (e.g. "First I went home, and then I went to the store"). “Than” is used for making comparisons (e.g. "I have more books than Julie").

Example Question #1 : Identifying Subordinate 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.

Returning from a deep and troublesome existential crisis, Bob decided that his sole purpose in life was to perfect the process which was making oven-baked macaroni and cheese. No error.

Possible Answers:

which was making

No error.

Bob decided that

Returning from

to perfect

Correct answer:

which was making

Explanation:

The relative pronoun “which” in this sentence is not used correctly. It should add extra information about a noun, and it should follow a comma. There is a better, shorter way of phrasing this sentence: "Returning from a deep and troublesome existential crisis, Bob decided that his sole purpose in life was to perfect the process of making oven-baked macaroni and cheese."

Example Question #21 : 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.

Before she traveled to Peru, she decided to start learning Quechua, that is one of the most popular local languages. No error.

Possible Answers:

Before she traveled

No error.

the most popular

that is 

decided to

Correct answer:

that is 

Explanation:

This sentence uses “that” to introduce a non-restrictive clause (added information rather than details central to the meaning of the sentence). It would be correct to use “which” instead: "Before she traveled to Peru, she decided to start learning Quechua, which is one of the most popular local languages."

Example Question #21 : 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.

Although the popular image of a Viking is a large man with horns on his helmet, and there is no evidence that Vikings actually wore horns. No error.

Possible Answers:

image of a Viking

with horns

and there is

actually wore horns

No error.

Correct answer:

and there is

Explanation:

This sentence is not coordinated correctly. When the first phrase starts with “although,” the main phrase should start after the comma without using another conjunction in between the comma and the main phrase. The corrected sentence reads, "Although the popular image of a Viking is a large man with horns on his helmet, there is no evidence that Vikings actually wore horns."

Example Question #1 : Identifying Subordinate 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.

Traveling during the holidays can be expensive, and it is worth it to celebrate with your family. No error.

Possible Answers:

and it is 

your family

Traveling

can be

No error.

Correct answer:

and it is 

Explanation:

The conjunction used in this sentence (“and”) does not match the logic of the sentence's content. The two parts oppose each other, so “but” is more appropriate. The corrected sentence reads, "Traveling during the holidays can be expensive, but it is worth it to celebrate with your family."

Example Question #2 : Identifying Subordinate 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 weather should be beautiful on Friday, but Barbara has made plans to go hikingNo error.

Possible Answers:

Friday, but

No error.

has made plans

should be beautiful

hiking

Correct answer:

Friday, but

Explanation:

The conjunction that this sentence uses does not make logical sense. The first half is the reasoning for the second half, so the conjunction “so” would be more appropriate. The corrected sentence reads, "The weather should be beautiful on Friday, so Barbara has made plans to go hiking."

Example Question #1 : Identifying Subordinate 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.

Vincent van Gogh sold only a few paintings during his lifetime, but yet he is considered one of the greatest painters of all timeNo error

Possible Answers:

sold

No error

of all time

but yet

greatest

Correct answer:

but yet

Explanation:

This sentence contains a redundancy error. The conjunctions "but" and "yet" are synonyms; they mean the same thing, so only one or the other is necessary to convey the intended meaning of the sentence.

The answer choice "sold" is correct because it contains the simple past tense, which is correct for events that happened in the past and don't continue into the present.

The answer choice "greatest" is correct because it uses the superlative form (the "-est" form) of the adjective great, which is appropriate for comparisons involving more than two items.

The answer choice "of all time" is a perfectly correct use of an idiomatic expression.

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