Idioms and Word Choice for Praxis I: Pre-Professional Skills Test Study Guide

Updated on May 1, 2014

Idioms—words, phrases, or expressions used in everyday language—make up a large part of English. If your native language is not English, the use of idioms may challenge you. That is because idioms often have unusual grammatical structures or have a meaning that does not make sense if you simply add up the meanings of each word. Native English speakers recognize most idioms by ear—the words just sound right. The PPST will require you to identify both the proper use of idiom and correct word choice.

Prepositional Idioms

Prepositions are words that express the relationship in time or space between words in a sentence. They are generally short words, such as in, on, around, above, between, beside, by, before, or with, that introduce prepositional phrases in a sentence. The PPST exam tests the idiomatic use of prepositions—word combinations that often go together. Review and familiarize yourself with this list of common prepositional idioms:

Keep your ear attuned to the use of prepositional idioms in this practice usage question.

  1. The intellectual development known as the Renaissance a political stability

The answer is b. The word combination corresponded toward is simply not idiomatic. When followed by a thing, such as a time period, either corresponded with or corresponded to are the correct prepositional idioms. When followed by a person, use correspond with.

Redundancy and Wordiness

You may be asked to identify redundant or wordy language. Your ability to write concisely and clearly will also be an important part of the essay portion of the test. To eliminate unnecessary repetitions or excessive wordiness, look for words that add no new information to a sentence.

Redundant: Due to the fact that the circumstances of the case were sensitive in nature, the proceedings were kept confidential.
Correct: Because the circumstances of the case were sensitive, the proceedings were kept confidential.
Redundant: Charles returned back to his room at 10 A.M. in the morning.
Correct: Charles returned to his room at 10 A.M.

Commonly Confused Words

A misused word can significantly alter the meaning of a sentence. The following list contains some commonly confused words. If you find some that you frequently confuse, study them and practice using them correctly in a sentence.

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