SAT Writing : Identifying Pronoun Errors: Incorrect Usage

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Identifying Word 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.

When guests sleep in my room, they can have trouble sleeping through the night because you can hear the highway outside my window. No error

Possible Answers:

through 

they can 

No error 

outside

you

Correct answer:

you

Explanation:

In this sentence, the people who have trouble sleeping are the "guests." Therefore, in order to maintain continuity within the sentence, "you" should not be used, as "you" does not refer to the "guests." The plural third-person pronoun "they" should be used instead.

Example Question #15 : Identifying Pronoun Errors

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

Any leader who inspires their constituents must do so by cultivating a sense of national pride and maintaining peace with neighboring states. No error

Possible Answers:

their

with

do so

maintaining

No error

Correct answer:

their

Explanation:

The possessive pronoun "their" in this sentence is meant to refer to the noun "leader." Because"their" is plural whereas "leader" is singular, the pronoun should be singular as well—"his or her" instead of "their."

The answer choice "do so" is correct because it simply replaces a verb phrase mentioned earlier in the sentence—"inspire their constituents."

The answer choice "maintaining" is correct because it preserves the parallel structure started by "cultivating."

The answer choice "with" is correct because to say "peace with" something or someone is the proper use of the idiom. 

Example Question #41 : Identifying Word 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.

The members of the cleaning crew made the event enjoyable and safe for all, and it deserves our thanks. No error

Possible Answers:

made

of

No error

it deserves

enjoyable and safe

Correct answer:

it deserves

Explanation:

In this sentence, it is easy to think that "it" refers to "cleaning crew," but since "cleaning crew" appears as the object of the preposition "of the cleaning crew" in the subject "the members of the cleaning crew," the plural noun "members" is actually the referent of the singular pronoun "it." To correct the sentence's error, "it" should be changed to "they," which agrees with plural antecedents. The corrected sentence reads, "The members of the cleaning crew made the event enjoyable and safe for all, and they deserve our thanks."

Example Question #11 : Identifying Pronoun Errors: Incorrect Usage

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

Jessica and Theresa hated doing her homework; however, once they were done they were allowed to play in the yardNo error

Possible Answers:

homework; however, once

in the yard

allowed

her

No error

Correct answer:

her

Explanation:

The pronoun "her" does not agree in number with the plural subject, "Jessica and Theresa." It should be "their."

Example Question #201 : 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.

Little did he know that his two best friends, which had mistakenly thought it was his birthday, were waiting in the next room to surprise himNo error

Possible Answers:

Little did he know that

were waiting

which

No error

to surprise him

Correct answer:

which

Explanation:

Since his friends are people, the relative pronoun “who” is more appropriate than “which.” The corrected sentence reads, "Little did he know that his two best friends, who had mistakenly thought it was his birthday, were waiting in the next room to surprise him."

Example Question #21 : Identifying Pronoun Errors

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

Students which take too much initiative and participate in too many afterschool activities can sometimes stress themselves out to the point of exhaustion. No error

Possible Answers:

which

in

No error

can

themselves

Correct answer:

which

Explanation:

Students are not things or concepts; they are people! When people are referenced, the word "who" or "whom" is used. Since the students are the subject, the word "which" should be replaced with "who."

Example Question #241 : 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.

An anthropologist always needs to ensure that their notes are meticulous and organized; detailed and accessible records are key to successful fieldwork. No error

Possible Answers:

are

organized; detailed

their

successful

No error

Correct answer:

their

Explanation:

In this sentence, the pronoun “their” does not correspond in number with its antecedent “an anthropologist.” “Their” is plural, but there is only one anthropologist. The corrected sentence reads, "An anthropologist always needs to ensure that his or her notes are meticulous and organized; detailed and accessible records are key to successful fieldwork."

Example Question #202 : 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.

A politician has to choose their words carefully; political opponents and the media are always eager for a compromising quote. No error

Possible Answers:

are

their

No error

eager for

carefully

Correct answer:

their

Explanation:

In this sentence, the pronoun “their” does not match in number with its antecedent “a politician.” The pronoun is plural and the antecedent is singular. The corrected sentence would read: A politician has to choose his or her words carefully; political opponents and the media are always eager for a compromising quote.

Example Question #21 : Identifying 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.

He had wanted to uproot the weeds in the backyard and plant a real garden, but he never seemed to have time to do itNo error

Possible Answers:

and

to do it

No error

had wanted

garden, but

Correct answer:

to do it

Explanation:

This sentence uses the preposition “it” to refer to the actions of uprooting weeds and planting a garden. “It” should refer to a thing, not an action. A more appropriate choice would be “so”: "He had wanted to uproot the weeds in the backyard and plant a real garden, but he never seemed to have time to do so."

Example Question #252 : 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.

Rita tries to arrive ten minutes early to every meeting, but sometimes the rush hour traffic makes it impossible to do itNo error

Possible Answers:

ten minutes

impossible

No error

do it

but

Correct answer:

do it

Explanation:

In this sentence, the pronoun “it” refers to the action of arriving ten minutes early. Since that is a verb, the better phrase would be “do so.” The corrected sentence reads, "Rita tries to arrive ten minutes early to every meeting, but sometimes the rush hour traffic makes it impossible to do so."

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