PSAT Writing : Identifying Sentence Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Identifying Other 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 old, faded rug ran the course of the entire empty room, it having been left untouched for fifty years. No error

Possible Answers:

untouched for

No error

ran

old, faded

it having been 

Correct answer:

it having been 

Explanation:

This sentence has some unnecessary words thrown in it. “It having been” is clunky and not needed. The corrected sentence reads: The old, faded rug ran the course of the entire empty room, left untouched for fifty years.

Example Question #631 : 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 downtrodden wrestlers all put away their uniforms and tried to silently forget the crushing defeat of that day. No error

Possible Answers:

downtrodden

to silently forget

their

crushing

No error

Correct answer:

to silently forget

Explanation:

The error in this sentence is a split infinitive. Conventional grammar rules tell us that an infinitive verb, such as “to forget,” should not be interrupted by an adverb, like “silently.” It would be more correct to say "tried silently to forget.”

Example Question #632 : 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.

Every Wednesday, I go to the dry cleaner, where I pick up my shirts, and to the grocery store, where I bought milk and bread. No error

Possible Answers:

store, where 

I bought

Every Wednesday,

I go

No error

Correct answer:

I bought

Explanation:

The error in the sentence is "I bought." The fact that I go to the store "every Wednesday" indicates that my actions, from going to the store to buying milk, are recurring actions. Using "I bought" makes the action a past action, when it should be "I buy." 

Example Question #633 : 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.

Statistical evidence supports the claim that a majority of middle-aged men do not never use deodorant. No error.

Possible Answers:

the claim that

never use deodorant

Statistical

majority of 

No error.

Correct answer:

never use deodorant

Explanation:

This sentence has a double negative, which is redundant. The corrected sentence reads: "Statistical evidence supports the claim that a majority of middle-aged men do not use deodorant."

Example Question #634 : 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 overbearing manager demanded that his employees make hourly progress reports every sixty minutes. No error.

Possible Answers:

every sixty minutes

his

overbearing

make

No error.

Correct answer:

every sixty minutes

Explanation:

This sentence contains redundancy. As the reports are "hourly," we already know they are to be made every sixty minutes. This phrase should be omitted.

Example Question #635 : 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.

Despite the company’s supposed emphasis on customer service, I have only talked to grouchy support personnel howeverNo error

Possible Answers:

supposed emphasis on

have only talked

No error

however

the company's

Correct answer:

however

Explanation:

Since this sentence opens with a “despite,” the word “however” is redundant. They both express the same relationship between parts of the sentence. Omit “however” to fix this problem: "Despite the company’s supposed emphasis on customer service, I have only talked to grouchy support personnel."

Example Question #1 : Identifying Ambiguity And Redundancy Errors

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

Our physics teacher is famous for distributing papers to students while at the same time chewing his gum quite loudly. No error

Possible Answers:

physics

loudly

at the same time

distributing 

No error 

Correct answer:

at the same time

Explanation:

“At the same time” means the same thing as “while.” Therefore, it is redundant, and doesn't need to be included in the sentence.

Example Question #2 : Identifying Ambiguity And Redundancy Errors

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

Certain colors are associated with certain emotions in our minds, and while certain smells are associated with certain memories. No error

Possible Answers:

are

with

associated

and while

No error

Correct answer:

and while

Explanation:

Either "while" or "and" could be used as a proper transition between the two sections of the sentence, but the phrase "and while" is overly wordy and therefore incorrect. 

Example Question #651 : 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.

In addition to all the contemporary hits, the band played popular jazz tunes from the 40's as wellNo error.

Possible Answers:

played

No error.

as well

all the contemporary hits

popular jazz tunes

Correct answer:

as well

Explanation:

This sentence has both "in addition to" and "as well," which is redundant. You only need one! The corrected sentence reads: "In addition to all the contemporary hits, the band played popular jazz tunes from the 40's."

Example Question #1 : Identifying Dangling Modifier Errors

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

Barking furiously, the squirrel taunted the dog at the base of the treeNo error.

Possible Answers:

of the tree

No error.

taunted

at the base

Barking furiously,

Correct answer:

Barking furiously,

Explanation:

This sentence has a misplaced modifier, which is a modifying phrase that is not placed next to the noun it modifies. Here, it appears as if the squirrel is barking, not the dog. Shift the word order to make it work: "The squirrel taunted the dog who was barking furiously at the base of the tree."

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