ACT English : Comparative and Superlative Adjective and Adverb Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Comparative And Superlative Adjective And Adverb Errors

Known as Prohibition the political fight in the United States to ban the sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol took a long time. The official ratification of the 18th Amendment, which banned alcohol, took place in January of 1919, after Nebraska became the 36th state to have its legislature ratify the amendment. The Amendment had first been passed of the United States Senate in 1917, and needed vigorous political action taken by its supporters just to get the necessary 36 states to ratify it. Its official enactment on January 1, 1920 was met with equal amounts of relief and joy by it’s proponents.

Most of them had been fighting to ban alcohol for decades. The American Temperance Society was founding in 1826. Frances Willard had been running the Women’s Christian Temperance Union for decades by the time a national debate was taking place on Prohibition. Carrie Nation had banded together women in the Midwest since the turn of the century to destroy bars and saloons with her trademark hatchet. The Anti-Saloon league organized thousands of everyday Americans to vote against any politician that did not support Prohibition. A burgeoning movement had grown into a legitimate groundswell, by the late 1910s.

After the ratification of the 18th Amendment, few of these supporters thought that it would be the abject failure it turned out to be. Most Americans did not want the absolute ban of all sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol. The most enterprising Americans found many illicit ways to profit from alcohol’s new illegal status. Americans looking for alcohol were seldom out of options, as every corner had either a speakeasy or a bootlegger selling imported or homemade liquor. Criminal organizations grew in strength thanks to profits from illegal booze, and federal agents were hopelessly outmanned of mobsters and thugs. On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution repealed the 18th Amendment, eliminating the Prohibition of alcohol and turning back the work of all of the Prohibition activists.

Choose the answer that best corrects the bolded portion of the passage. If the bolded portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

of every sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol

of all sale consumption and posession of alcohol

of all sales, consumption, and possession of alcohol

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

of all sales, consumption, and possession of alcohol

Explanation:

The adjective "all" should not be paired with a singular noun, which "sale," the noun it modified, is. An adjective and the noun it modifies must always be in agreement. Therefore, the correct answer choice is "of all sales, consumption, and possesion of alcohol."

Example Question #12 : Comparative And Superlative Adjective And Adverb Errors

Adapted from “The Fear of the Past” in What’s Wrong with the World by G.K. Chesterton (1910)

The last few decades have marked by a special cultivation of the romance of the future. We seem to have made up our minds to misunderstand what has happened; and we turn, with a sort of relief, to stating what will happen—which is (apparently) more easy. The modern man no longer presents the memoirs of his great grandfather; but is engaged in writing a detailed and authoritative biography of his great-grandson. Instead of trembling before the specters of the dead, we shudder abject under the shadow of the babe unborn. This spirit is apparent everywhere, even to the creation of a form of futurist romance. Sir Walter Scott stands at the dawn of the nineteenth century for the novel of the past; Mr. H. G. Wells stands at the beginning of the twentieth century for the novel of the future. The old story, we know, was supposed to begin: "Late on a winter's evening two horsemen might have been seen . . ." The new story has to begin: "Late on a winter's evening two aviators will be seen . . ." The movement is not without its elements of charm; theres something spirited, if eccentric, in the sight of so many people fighting over again the fights that have not yet happened; of people still aglow with the memory of tomorrow morning. A man in advance of the age is a familiar phrase enough. An age in advance of the age is really rather odd.

Choose the answer that best corrects the bolded portion of the passage. If the bolded portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

the easy

easier

NO CHANGE

easiest

the easiest

Correct answer:

easier

Explanation:

Two things must be considered here. First, the passage incorrectly forms the comparative degree of the adjective "easy." The correct form is "easier." Now, it is more appropriate to choose "easier" than "the easiest" because the author is here making a comparison. We cannot guarantee that he really wishes to make the superlative claim that statements about the future are the easiest to make.

Example Question #1 : 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.

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 #2 : 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’d see that she was the best 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 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 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 #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. 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 shortest of the group. 

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

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 shorter of the group.

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

a strongest boy

a strongly boy

a stronger boy

the strongest boy

the strongly 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 #5 : 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:

better

gooder

more well

best

more good

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 #6 : 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.

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

Possible Answers:

most fast

faster

more quickly

most quickly

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 #1 : 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.

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

Possible Answers:

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

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

(No changes to original.)

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.

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 #8 : 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 most 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 more 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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