SAT Writing : Identifying Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #55 : Identifying Errors Involving Commonly Confused Words

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Judging from there aversion to loud noises, I doubt that the cats will enjoy having three toddlers running amokNo error

Possible Answers:

will enjoy having

running amok

loud

No error

there

Correct answer:

there

Explanation:

This sentence uses the wrong version of there/their. The possessive “their” is appropriate in this case. The corrected sentence reads, "Judging from their aversion to loud noises, I doubt that the cats will enjoy having three toddlers running amok."

Example Question #111 : 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.

Christopher Columbus did not reach India like he had originally planned; instead, he arrived at an island which is currently part of the Dominican Republic. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

which

at

planned; instead

had

Correct answer:

which

Explanation:

“That” would be a better substitute for “which” since the island we’re referring to is a thing. “Which” is used to refer to an action and/or introduce a new clause, especially after a comma. For example, “I couldn’t understand the directions, which bothered me.”

Example Question #112 : 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.

Sarah believed that she would be excepted into her favorite university until she received a letter that dashed her hopes. No error

Possible Answers:

would be

dashed her hopes

excepted 

had believed

No error

Correct answer:

excepted 

Explanation:

This sentence contains a common usage error—the word "accepted," meaning allowed into, has been confused with the word "excepted," meaning specifically left out. Confusing these words completely changes the meaning of the sentence.

Example Question #113 : 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 had reason to believe it was the same truck which had been involved in the hit-and-run last yearNo error

Possible Answers:

No error

last year

which

it

reason

Correct answer:

which

Explanation:

In this sentence, the phrase "had been involved in the hit-and-run from last year" is not a subordinate clause. Rather, it is part of the main clause and helps to identify which truck in particular the speaker is referring to. Because it is not subordinate, the use of the word "which" is inappropriate and confusing. The word "that" should be used instead.

Example Question #111 : 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.

Nancy brought over the most heavenly-smelling batch of pecan rolls, that would have been lovely if I weren’t allergic to both nuts and glutenNo error

Possible Answers:

that

lovely

brought over

No error

both nuts and gluten

Correct answer:

that

Explanation:

This sentence mixes up the words “that” and “which.” “Which” is used to start a phrase that provides additional information after a comma. The content of a which-phrase is loosely connected to the content of the main phrase, and the sentence would still make sense if the information contained in the phrase were omitted. “That” directly follows the word it’s modifying, with no comma intervening. The corrected sentence reads, "Nancy brought over the most heavenly-smelling batch of pecan rolls, which would have been lovely if I weren’t allergic to both nuts and gluten."

Example Question #121 : Identifying Other Usage Errors

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

The seagull must have injured it's wing; it is having a lot of difficulty flying and can't seem to get off the ground. No error

Possible Answers:

wing;

No error

have

it's

flying and

Correct answer:

it's

Explanation:

"It's" is the contraction, meaning "it is." "Its," without the apostrophe, is the possessive pronoun - the correct one that should be used here. This is a VERY common error, just remember that this is a rare case where the possessive form specifically does not take an apostrophe.

Example Question #122 : Identifying Other Usage Errors

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

"You're beautiful," he whispered sensually in her ear, "and I hope to multiply you're happy days for the rest of our lives." No error

Possible Answers:

beautiful,"

ear,

you're

sensually

No error

Correct answer:

you're

Explanation:

Although "you're" is correct the first time it appears in the sentence, it is a contraction of "you are;" it is, in other words, a subject and a verb. In the second half of the sentence, "happy days" is an object that the speaker is talking about, and "you're" should be changed to your, the possessive form of the pronoun "you." This makes it clear that she has happy days, but is not herself made of happy days. To see the problem more clearly, replace "you're" with "you are" every time it appears: "...I hope to multiply you are happy days..."

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