PSAT Writing : Identifying Sentence Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

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.

Observing from the summit, the valley that stood below Mike's tour group seemed unfathomably extensive and arid. No error

Possible Answers:

unfathomably 

Mike's

Observing from the summit,

arid

No error 

Correct answer:

Observing from the summit,

Explanation:

“Observing” is apart of a misplaced modifier that should refer to Mike's tour group, not the valley. The way the sentence is written, it seems as if "the valley" is "observing from the summit," not "Mike's tour group."

Example Question #2 : 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.

With ears like a rabbit's and a tongue like a frog's, Andrew knew that he had selected the perfect puppy. No error

Possible Answers:

frog's,

Andrew

rabbit's

No error

he had selected

Correct answer:

Andrew

Explanation:

The grammatical problem with this sentence is the dangling modifier before the comma. Since the subject of the first clause is the "perfect puppy," the puppy must also be the subject of the main clause, not Andrew. The other, probably better option, would be to make Andrew the subject of the first clause: "Seeing the rabbit-like ears and frog-like tongue..."

Example Question #652 : 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 local coffeeshop’s sudden surge in popularity was largely attributed to them redecorating shark-themedNo error

Possible Answers:

No error

largely

surge in popularity

The local coffeeshop's

them redecorating shark-themed

Correct answer:

them redecorating shark-themed

Explanation:

The last phrase in this sentence is phrased awkwardly. Changing it to an adjective-noun combination makes the sentence run much more smoothly: "The local coffeeshop’s sudden surge in popularity was largely attributed to their shark-themed redecoration."

Example Question #653 : 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.

Hillary Clinton, a prominent American politician, is often being represented in the media as a conniving woman rather than a successful political figureNo error.

Possible Answers:

No error.

in the media

conniving

being

than a successful political figure

Correct answer:

being

Explanation:

The progressive verb “being” is not necessary in this sentence. It is more concise and to-the-point to say: "Hillary Clinton, a prominent American politician, is often represented in the media as a conniving woman rather than a successful political figure."

Example Question #654 : 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 spectators looked at one another, not having much to say, as they were dumbfounded by the tricks of the New York City street magician. No error.

Possible Answers:

No error.

having

one another

New York City

dumbfounded

Correct answer:

having

Explanation:

“Having” is an incorrect use of a gerund. It creates confusion with respect to time, as both “looked” and “dumbfounded” are in the simple past tense.

Example Question #655 : 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.

Despite her best intentions, Suzy’s attempting to throw a surprise birthday party was a complete disaster. No error.

Possible Answers:

surprise birthday

was

attempting

No error.

Despite her best intentions

Correct answer:

attempting

Explanation:

It is not necessary to use the gerund “attempting” in this sentence because the noun “attempt” already exists. The corrected sentence reads, "Despite her best intentions, Suzy’s attempt to throw a surprise birthday party was a complete disaster."

Example Question #656 : 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.

Most elderly women prefer to go to bed early instead of stay up late watching television. No error.

Possible Answers:

instead of

Most

stay up late

to go to bed

No error.

Correct answer:

stay up late

Explanation:

Usually, the phrase “instead of” is followed by a gerund or verb that ends in "-ing". The corrected sentence reads, "Most elderly women prefer to go to bed early instead of staying up late watching television."

Example Question #641 : 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.

Given the chance, Frank would drop everything and dedicate his life to swim the English Channel. No error.

Possible Answers:

No error.

to swim

Given the chance

everything and

his life

Correct answer:

to swim

Explanation:

This sentence uses the verb “swim” when it needs a gerund, “swimming.” A gerund is a verb that is acting as a noun. The corrected sentence reads, "Given the chance, Frank would drop everything and dedicate his life to swimming the English Channel."

Example Question #662 : 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.

All of the children were sorely disappointed that the water slide being closed for repairsNo error.

Possible Answers:

for repairs

All of the children

No error.

sorely

being closed

Correct answer:

being closed

Explanation:

This sentence has the gerund "being" in it, but the past tense "was" is cleaner and more direct. The corrected sentence reads, "All of the children were sorely disappointed that the water slide was closed for repairs."

Example Question #663 : 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.

Many people find the rigorous schedule associated with campaign management being overly fatiguing. No error.

Possible Answers:

No error.

overly

Many people find

being

associated with

Correct answer:

being

Explanation:

This sentence uses “being” as a gerund (a verb acting as a noun) when the infinitive is necessary. Always, when you use "find" followed by a noun and then an adjective or an adjectival phrase, you should connect the noun and adjective or adjectival phrase with the infinitive “to be.” The corrected sentence reads, "Many people find the rigorous schedule associated with campaign management to be overly fatiguing."

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