HSPT Language Skills : Usage and Composition

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for HSPT Language Skills

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Identifying Usage Errors

Identify which one of the following sentences contains a grammatical error. Select “No Errors” if none of the sentences contains a grammatical error.

Possible Answers:

Which one of these cookies over there in the bakery case looks most delicious to you?

To be able to pass the math test, you need to be able to calculate the sum of two and two.

No Errors

Yesterday the weather report said it might rain today, but today the forecast says it will be sunny all day.

Correct answer:

Which one of these cookies over there in the bakery case looks most delicious to you?

Explanation:

The sentence that contains the grammatical error is shown below.

Which one of these cookies over there in the bakery case looks most delicious to you?

The error occurs in the sentence's use of the word "these." Later in the sentence, the phrase "over there" is used; this tells us that the cookies are located at some relatively distant position from the speaker and the addressee. Because of this distance, we need to use the demonstrative pronoun "those," which is used for relatively distant people and things, as opposed to "these," which is used for people and things located relatively close by.

The corrected sentence would read,

Which one of those cookies over there in the bakery case looks most delicious to you?

Example Question #2 : Identifying Usage Errors

Identify which one of the following sentences contains a grammatical error. Select “No Errors” if none of the sentences contains a grammatical error.

Possible Answers:

After their last classes ended and their summer vacation started, Sam, Kate, and Jill went to the bakery to celebrate.

No Errors

Robins are one of the first bird to show up at the beginning of spring.

The streets grew eerily quiet just before the storm came crashing into town.

Correct answer:

Robins are one of the first bird to show up at the beginning of spring.

Explanation:

The answer choice that contains the a grammatical error is "Robins are one of the first bird to show up at the beginning of spring." The phrase "one of the first bird" does not make grammatical sense. Here, "one" does not need to agree with "bird." "Bird" needs to be changed to "birds." This is because the sentence is specifying that robins are one out of a group of birds (all birds that show up in spring). Thus, to convey that the speaker is specifying robins as one bird out of a group of birds, the singular "bird" needs to be changed to the plural "birds." The corrected sentence would read, "Robins are one of the first birds to show up at the beginning of spring."

Example Question #1 : Composition: Choosing Appropriate Conjunctions

Choose the word that best and most logically connects the two parts of the sentence.

Francine can be forgetful and needed to remember to get many specific ingredients for a recipe she wanted to try; __________, she wrote a grocery list before going to the store.

Possible Answers:

nevertheless

but

therefore

however

Correct answer:

therefore

Explanation:

Conjunctions are like grammatical hinges between two ideas. To choose the correct conjunction, we need to analyze how the meanings of the two parts of the sentence connect. In the first part of the sentence, we're told that Francine is forgetful and has something she needs to remember. How might this connect to the idea of writing a grocery list? The first part of the sentence is a cause or impetus for Francine to write a grocery list. So, we need to pick out a conjunction that conveys cause and effect.

The two parts of the sentence do not oppose one another or conflict, so "but," "however," or "nevertheless" cannot be correct. The correct answer is "therefore." This is the only conjunction listed in the answer choices that conveys the cause-and-effect that we logically need for this sentence.

Example Question #2 : Composition: Choosing Appropriate Conjunctions

Choose the word that best and most logically connects the two parts of the sentence.

Yesterday, I wanted to go directly to the beach after stopping in town, __________ I brought my beach towel and umbrella to town with me.

Possible Answers:

but

and

despite the fact that

so

Correct answer:

so

Explanation:

The most logical conjunction for this sentence is "so." The first part of the sentence explains the motivation behind the action that takes place in the second part of the sentence. Conjunctions like "so" and "therefore" convey cause-and-effect relationships like the one in the sentence, so either could work well in the blank. Only "so" is listed amongst the answer choices, so it is the correct answer. "And" is used to connect two sentences when they are not being contrasted or a cause-and-effect relationship between the two parts of the sentence is not at work. "Despite the fact that" is similar to "but" in that one of the parts of the sentence must be working against the other part: "Despite A, B happened." The best answer in this case is "so."

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