PSAT Writing : Correcting Comparative and Superlative Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #467 : Correcting Usage Errors

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.

Michael and Larry are both excellent basketball players, but Michael is best.

Possible Answers:

Michael and Larry are both excellent—but Michael is better—basketball players.

Michael and Larry are both excellent basketball players, and yet Michael is best.

Michael and Larry are both excellent basketball players, but Michael is better.

Michael and Larry are both excellent basketball players, but Michael is best.

Michael is the better basketball player, and yet both he and Larry are excellent at it.

Correct answer:

Michael and Larry are both excellent basketball players, but Michael is better.

Explanation:

Whenever you are comparing only two things, use the comparative form (usually words ending in "-er"—better, smarter, faster, and so forth). If there are three or more items, use the superlative form (usually ending in "-est"—best, smartest, fastest . . .) to designate the best one.

Example Question #12 : Correcting Adjective And Adverb Errors

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.

After both failing her exam and missing the last bus home, Maxi decided that that Friday afternoon could not get any more worse.

Possible Answers:

Maxi decided that Friday afternoon could get more worse. 

Maxi decided that that Friday afternoon could not get any more worse. 

Maxi decided that Friday afternoon could not get worse.

Maxi decided that Friday afternoon could not get any more worse.

Maxi decided that that Friday afternoon could not get any worse.

Correct answer:

Maxi decided that that Friday afternoon could not get any worse.

Explanation:

The expression “more worse” cannot exist because “worse” is already a superlative. The second “that” specifies which Friday afternoon in particular, as opposed to any Friday afternoon of the year.

Example Question #13 : Correcting Adjective And Adverb Errors

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.

Between chimpanzees and orangutans, chimpanzees are the most intelligent, and orangutans are the more social.

Possible Answers:

have been the most intelligent, and orangutans are the more social

are the most intelligent, and orangutans are the more social

are the more intelligent, and orangutans are the most social

are the more intelligent, and orangutans are the more social

are the most intelligent, and orangutans are the most social

Correct answer:

are the more intelligent, and orangutans are the more social

Explanation:

We know that in this sentence, only two items are being compared, because the sentences begins with "Between chimpanzees and orangutans." When only two items are being compared, remember to use the comparative forms of adjectives ("more" or "-er") rather than the superlative forms ("most" or "-est").

The only answer choice that obeys this rule is "are the more intelligent, and orangutans are the more social."

Example Question #1 : Correcting Comparative And Superlative Errors

If you compared my sister and me, you’d see that she was the best dancer.

Possible Answers:

If you compared my sister and I, you were to see that she was the best dancer.

If you compared my sister and me, you’d see that she was the better dancer.

If you compared my sister and me, you’d see that she was the best dancer.

If you compared my sister and I, you’d see that she was the best dancer.

If you compared my sister and I, you’d see that she was the better dancer.

Correct answer:

If you compared my sister and me, you’d see that she was the better dancer.

Explanation:

We use comparative adjectives when comparing two people or things (bigger, worse); we use superlative adjectives when comparing one person or thing with three or more people or things (the biggest, the worse).

Example Question #469 : Correcting Usage Errors

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.

 

If you look at Jamie, Jamal, and me, you will see that I am the shorter of the group.

Possible Answers:

If you look at Jamie, Jamal, and I, you will see that I am the shorter of the group. 

If you look at Jamie, Jamal, and me, you will see that I am the shortest of the group. 

If you look at Jamie, Jamal, and me, you will see that I am the shorter of the group.

If you look at Jamie, Jamal, and I, you will see that I am the shortest of the group. 

If you look at Jamie, Jamal, and me, you would see that I am the shorter of the group. 

Correct answer:

If you look at Jamie, Jamal, and me, you will see that I am the shortest of the group. 

Explanation:

We use comparative adjectives when comparing two people or things (bigger, worse, etc.); we use superlative adjectives when comparing one person or thing with three or more people or things (the biggest, the worst, etc.). Thus, here we use the superlative adjective “the shortest.” In the first clause, we use “me” instead of “I” because “me” is an object pronoun, and “me” is the indirect object of the verb “look.”.

Example Question #2 : Correcting Comparative And Superlative Errors

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.

 

He was a strongest boy that grew up into the biggest teenager in his town.

Possible Answers:

the strongly boy

the strongest boy

a stronger boy

a strongly boy

a strongest boy

Correct answer:

the strongest boy

Explanation:

The use of the form "strongest" is a superlative that indicates the peak of an adjective; therefore, there can be only one "strongest boy," and the phrase needs a definite article, "the," instead of the indefinite article, "a."

Example Question #3 : Correcting Comparative And Superlative Errors

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.

I have a lot of friends who did well on those exams, but I think that I will do more well than them.

Possible Answers:

gooder

better

more well

more good

best

Correct answer:

better

Explanation:

"More well" is not a phrase—the comparative form of "well" is not "more well," but "better." Since we are only comparing two groups (the speaker versus the speaker's friends), "better" is the most appropriate here.

Example Question #213 : Improving Sentences

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.

Between my younger sister, my older sister, and me, my older sister walks most fast.

Possible Answers:

more quickly

most fast

most quickly

faster

more quick

Correct answer:

most quickly

Explanation:

In the sentence as it is written, "fast," an adjective, is being used to modify "walks." This is incorrect; only adverbs can modify verbs. So, we need to pick out an answer choice which uses the adverbial form of "fast," which is "quickly." This lets us eliminate the answer choice "most fast." "Faster" cannot be correct because more than two subjects are being compared in the sentence, and "faster" is a comparative adjective that is used to compare two subjects. "More quick," "more fast," and "more quickly" can each be eliminated for this same reason, in addition to the fact that "more quick" isn't grammatically correct at all—one would say "quicker," not "more quick." This leaves us with the correct answer, "most quickly."

Example Question #214 : Improving Sentences

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.

The chefs of New York City cannot compare with the home-cooked meals of my mother.

Possible Answers:

The chefs of New York City cannot hardly compare with the home-cooked meals of my mother.

The chefs of New York City cannot compare to the home-cooked meals of my mother.

The chefs of New York City cannot compare with my mother.

The chefs of New York City were not comparing with the home-cooked meals of my mother.

(No changes to original.)

Correct answer:

The chefs of New York City cannot compare with my mother.

Explanation:

We must compare the chefs to my mother, not to the home-cooked meals.

Example Question #4 : Correcting Comparative And Superlative Errors

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.

The more difficult step in the process for all of the initiates was the lengthy obstacle course.

Possible Answers:

The more difficult step in the process for all of the initiates was the lengthy obstacle course.

The more difficult step in the process for all of the initiates was the lengthier obstacle course.

The most difficult step in the process for all of the initiates was the lengthy obstacle course.

The more difficult step in the process of all of the initiates was the lengthy obstacle course.

The more difficult steps in the process for all of the initiates was the lengthy obstacle course.

Correct answer:

The most difficult step in the process for all of the initiates was the lengthy obstacle course.

Explanation:

The use of "more" in this sentence is odd and confusing, as "more" should be used in a direct comparison between two things. As no comparison is made in this sentence, the modifier should simply indicate a great degree of difficulty. The word "most," a superlative adjective, properly conveys such a meaning, making the correct answer, "The most difficult step in the process for all of the initiates was the lengthy obstacle course."

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