SAT Writing : Identifying Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #71 : Identifying Other Usage Errors

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

Driving to the supermarket is normally much faster then walking there, but since Irene lives on the same street, she always saves gas by walking. No error

Possible Answers:

then

Driving

No error

faster

she

Correct answer:

then

Explanation:

To catch this sentence's error, you must understand the distinction between the homonyms "then" and "than." "Then" refers to an event that happens after something, as in the sentence, "She went to the movies and then to the store." "Than" compares two words or phrases, as in the sentence, "Driving is much faster than walking." To correct the sentence's error, "then" should be changed to "than."

Example Question #71 : Identifying Other Usage Errors

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

I’m not sure who’s jacket this is, but I bet its owner is looking for it,” he said as he dug through the lost-and-found bin at his high school on a cold November morning. No error

Possible Answers:

its

through

No error

I'm

who's

Correct answer:

who's

Explanation:

You must understand the distinction between common homonyms to pick out the error in this sentence, particularly between "its" and "it's," as well as between "whose" and "who's." "Its" is a possessive pronoun, identifying something that belongs to "it," so the phrase "I bet its owner is looking for it" is correct. You can eliminate that answer choice from your options. However, "who's" is a contraction of the words "who" and "is," which does not fit in this sentence ("I'm not sure who is jacket this is" wouldn't make sense) and is therefore an error. "Whose" is a possessive pronoun, signaling that the noun belongs to someone, so that would be the correct form here. ("I'm not sure whose jacket this is").

Example Question #23 : Identifying Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

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

The worst affect of the medication I was taking last year was the drowsiness it caused. No error

Possible Answers:

affect

caused

was

No error

taking

Correct answer:

affect

Explanation:

"Affect" and "effect" are two commonly confused homonyms. The best way to remember the difference between them is to remember that one is used most often as a noun and the other as a verb. "Affect" is a verb that means to influence something, while "effect" is a noun that means the result of something. ("Effect" can also be used as a verb that means to cause, as in the phrase "effect change.") One should use the word "effect," not the word "affect," in this sentence.

Example Question #21 : Identifying Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

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

After going to her friend's birthday party eating two large slices of chocolate cake, Jennie realized that she had eaten to much when her stomach began to make odd gurgling noises. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

to make odd gurgling noises

two

to her friend's birthday party

to much

Correct answer:

to much

Explanation:

This sentence's error has to do with the homonyms "to," two," and "too." The "two" in "two large slices of chocolate cake" is correct; this form of the word refers to the whole number greater than one but less than three. The "to" in "to her friend's birthday party" is also correctly used; this "to" is being used as a preposition. The "to" in "to make odd gurgling noises" is also correctly used because it is part of an infinitive verb, "to make." The "to" in "eaten to much" is incorrect, however; to correct the sentence, one would need to change this "to" to "too," which is used to mean in excess or in an amount that is greater than what is needed or desired.

Example Question #25 : Identifying Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

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

First, she climbed up to the treehouse using the rope ladder, and than she drew up the ladder into the treehouse so that no one could follow herNo error

Possible Answers:

No error

and than she

using the rope ladder,

so that no one could follow her

First, she

Correct answer:

and than she

Explanation:

This sentence's error is its use of "than," a word that is used to form comparisons like "He is taller than her," where it needs to use "then," which is a word that designates a specified time in a sequence in the past, as in the sentence "I almost bought the giant purple trampoline for my apartment, but then I decided not to." To correct this sentence, "than" should be changed to "then."

Example Question #26 : Identifying Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

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

Whose book is this?” she asked inquisitively, flipping through the novel’s tattered pages and hoping to find it’s owner’s initials. No error

Possible Answers:

inquisitively

it's

to

Whose

No error

Correct answer:

it's

Explanation:

You must understand the distinction between the homonyms "its" and "it's" to correctly answer this question. "It's" is a contraction of "it" and "is" and is used in sentences like "It's too early to go to sleep." "Its," on the other hand, is a possessive pronoun, identifying something that belongs to "it." "Its" is used in sentences like "The cat played with its toy." So, to correct this sentence's error, "it's" needs to be changed to "its."

Example Question #21 : Identifying Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

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

Joshua studied all the subjects in his biology book to prepare for the final exam except for mitochondria, that unfortunately were the subject of an important essay on the test. No error

 

Possible Answers:

of

to 

No error

that

all the

Correct answer:

that

Explanation:

"Which” is used to show that there is modification to a phrase when the modification comes after a comma. “That” is used to show that there is a modification to a phrase in which there is not a comma after the subject being modified. Here, the subject being modified is “mitochondria,” and is followed by a comma. Therefore, the word modifying that subject should be “which.”

Example Question #28 : Identifying Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

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

The young terrier got along very well with a kitten which was very small and skittish around most other animals. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

got along

and

which

most other

Correct answer:

which

Explanation:

“Which” is used to show that there is modification to a phrase when the modification comes after a comma. “That” is used to show that there is a modification to a phrase in which a comma does not follow the subject being modified. Here, the subject being modified is “kitten,” but there is no comma after it. Therefore, “that” is appropriate, not “which.”

Example Question #21 : Identifying Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

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

The key to writing a good essay is preparation and forethought, that is something that is challenging to many students. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

key to 

that

challenging

and

Correct answer:

that

Explanation:

“Which” is used to show that there is modification to a phrase when the modification comes after a comma. “That” is used to show that there is a modification to a phrase in which there is not a comma after the subject being modified. Here, the first part of the sentence preceding the comma is the part that is being modified. Therefore, "which" should be used instead of "that."

Example Question #30 : Identifying Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

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

The doctor told his patient that he felt that there was an excess of nurses in the office, that was causing some crowding. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

there

said to

that

in 

Correct answer:

that

Explanation:

“Which” is used to show that there is modification to a phrase when the modification comes after a comma. “That” is used to show that there is a modification to a phrase in which there is not a comma after the subject being modified. Here, the part of the sentence before the comma is being modified by the part of the sentence after the comma. Therefore, “which” is appropriate, not “that.”

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