SAT Writing : Identifying Comparative and Superlative Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Identifying Comparative And Superlative Errors

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

People who experience less health problems are more likely to be happier and less depressed than their unhealthy counterparts. No error

Possible Answers:

happier

less

than

who

No error

Correct answer:

less

Explanation:

The error in this sentence is "less" because "health problems" are countable nouns—you can count the number of health problems a person has. When referring to countable nouns, you should use "fewer" instead of "less." The beginning of this sentence, then, should read, "People who experience fewer health problems."

Example Question #2 : Identifying Comparative And Superlative Errors

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

Even though Joe, Pat and Lisa are all neighbors, Joe lives in a house that is further from Lisa's than it is from Pat's. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

Even though 

than 

further

are all 

Correct answer:

further

Explanation:

When describing physical distance, the adjective "farther" should be used. However, when describing figurative distance, the adjective "further" should be used. Given that the distance of a house from another house is being described—that is, a physical distance—the adjective "farther" should be used, not "further."

Example Question #3 : Identifying Comparative And Superlative Errors

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

Between Portia and Franklin, the majority of observers would zealously agree that Franklin is the most intelligent. No error

Possible Answers:

the majority of

agree that

No error

Between

Most

Correct answer:

Most

Explanation:

When three or more items are being compared, "most" and other superlatives should be used. However, when only two items are being compared, as is the case here, "more" should be used instead.

Example Question #3 : Identifying Comparative And Superlative Errors

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

At first the little boy couldn't choose between the white puppy and the brown puppy, but he eventually chose the brown puppy because it was the cutest of the two. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

cutest

between 

and 

At first

Correct answer:

cutest

Explanation:

When comparing two items, "cuter," a comparative adjective, should be used. "Cutest," a superlative adjective, should only be used when there are three or more items being compared.

Example Question #4 : Identifying Comparative And Superlative Errors

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

While Scott enjoys spending time with his brother and sister, he likes his brother best because they have more in commonNo error

 

Possible Answers:

No error

more in common

with

best

and

Correct answer:

best

Explanation:

Given that Scott is comparing only his brother and sister (two subjects), the superlative adjective “best” should not be used because it is only appropriate when three or more items are being compared. Here, the comparative adjective “better" should be used instead.

 

Example Question #6 : Identifying Comparative And Superlative 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 oldest of the triplets is the activest one, perhaps because he intuitively knows that he is the big brother who needs to take care of everyone. No error

Possible Answers:

because

No error

who

of

activest

Correct answer:

activest

Explanation:

“Activest” is not a word; “most active" should be used instead.

Example Question #5 : Identifying Comparative And Superlative Errors

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

Among the major newspapers in Los Angeles, the more popular is The Los Angeles Times, outselling the four other large publications in the area. No error

Possible Answers:

Among

other

more

outselling

No error

Correct answer:

more

Explanation:

When there are more than three items being compared, the superlative adjective "most" should be used. The comparative adjective "more" is only used to compare two items. Given that The Los Angeles Times is being compared to four other newspapers, the appropriate word to use would be "most," not "more."

Example Question #8 : Identifying Comparative And Superlative Errors

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

While I enjoy both swimming and running, I am best at swimming, as I naturally have more upper body strength and feel very natural in the waterNo error

Possible Answers:

more 

in the water

best

No error

both

Correct answer:

best

Explanation:

When two items are being compared, the word "better" should be used to distinguish one from the other. "Best" is only used when three or more items are being compared. 

Example Question #9 : Identifying Comparative And Superlative 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 environmentalist isn't sure which is worst for the environment between styrofoam and plastic. No error

Possible Answers:

worst

which

No error

and

isn't

Correct answer:

worst

Explanation:

"Worse" is used to compare to objects, while "worst" is used for three or more objects. Given that two items are being compared here ("styrofoam and plastic"), "worse" should be used instead of "worst."

Example Question #6 : Identifying Comparative And Superlative Errors

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

Between skirts and pants, skirts were most popular among women during the 1950s. No error

Possible Answers:

during

No error

among

most

and

Correct answer:

most

Explanation:

When two items are being compared, the comparative adjective “more” is the appropriate word to use, while the superlative adjective “most” is appropriate for comparisons involving three or more items. Here, two items ("skirts and pants") are being compared. Therefore, “more” is the appropriate word to use, not “most.”

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