PSAT Writing : Modifiers

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Modifiers

The Sagrada Familia has stood, incomplete, as part of the Barcelona skyline since the early phases of its construction in 1882. The project, originally intended to be a cathedral in the gothic style, was begun by the bookseller Joseph Maria Bocabella under the direction of the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. Del Villar and Bocabella imagined a basilica modeled on the Gothic revival churches Bocabella had seen on trips to Italy. However, Bocabella’s ideal basilica never came to be. In 1883 del Villar resigned from the project, and 30-year old Antoni Gaudi, 1 he was a young but already well-known architect from Catalonia, took over as lead architect.

Possible Answers:

his being

Gaudi was

NO CHANGE

DELETE the underlined portion.

Correct answer:

DELETE the underlined portion.

Explanation:

Whenever you are asked to join two thoughts with a comma, you should make sure that the sentence that is created is both not a run-on and a complete sentence. In this case, your hint should be the second comma after "Catalonia" later in the sentence. The portion directly after the first comma is meant to be a piece of additional information bracketed within commas. It therefore shouldn't have a verb, since having a verb would create a run-on sentence. That should allow you to eliminate all choices except for "DELETE the underlined portion."

Example Question #681 : Identifying Sentence Errors

The Sagrada Familia has stood, incomplete, as part of the Barcelona skyline since the early phases of its construction in 1882. The project, originally intended to be a cathedral in the gothic style, was begun by the bookseller Joseph Maria Bocabella under the direction of the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. Del Villar and Bocabella imagined a basilica modeled on the Gothic revival churches Bocabella had seen on trips to Italy. However, Bocabella’s ideal basilica never came to be. In 1883 del Villar resigned from the project, and 30-year old Antoni Gaudi, a young but already well known architect from Catalonia, took over as lead architect.

Gaudi decided to depart from del Villar’s original Gothic design in favor of a more modern design. The new design was 1 ambitious, and featuring eighteen tall spires and four different facades on different sides of the basilica. But work on the new building was slow. Decades passed, and the work was still incomplete. In 1915, Gaudi - now 63 years old - abandoned all other work in favor of dedicating himself to the completion of the monumental church, but progress on the building was still slow. When pressured to speed up work on the monumental building, Gaudi was said to have replied, “My client is not in a hurry.”  By the time Gaudi died in 1926, the basilica was only somewhere between 15 and 20 percent complete.

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

ambitious; featuring

ambitious, featuring

ambitious, it featured

Correct answer:

ambitious, featuring

Explanation:

This sentence presents you with two major decision points: between the comma and semicolon and between "and featuring" and "featuring". Check the difference between the comma and semicolon first. Remember that a comma cannot be used to link two complete sentences without a conjunction and that a semicolon can only be used to link two complete sentences. "ambitious; featuring"  can be eliminated since what follows the semicolon is not a complete sentence, and "ambitious, it featured" can be eliminated because there is a complete sentence on either side of the comma without a conjunction. Since the sentence is not a list and what follows after the comma isn't a complete sentence, "and featuring" does not make sense. "ambitious, featuring" turns the second part of the sentence into an appositive, allowing you to use the comma.

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