ACT English : Comparative and Superlative Adjective and Adverb Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

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Example Question #31 : Comparative And Superlative Adjective And Adverb Errors

“Democracy—Always a Good Thing?”

In the contemporary world, we tend to think that democracy is always the best form of government.  We are enchanted by the idea of self-governance for it seems to affirm the maturity of the citizens of a nation.  Instead of being ruled by benign-monarchs or the landed-aristocracy, the citizens of a democracy are people who exercise self-mastery in a fully human manner.  Well, at least this is what we tend to think of the matter.

Really, however, democracy is an ambiguous affair.  Often, we use such single terms to name two different types of social arrangements.  Such an equivocation is understandable.  Whenever all (or at least most) of the people take part in political life, it seems like we have a kind of democracy.  However, it is important to make a clearer distinction.

On the one hand, there can be a community that aims at the common good.  In such a group, the people come together to have a political community that aims to fulfill human goals that could not be done by isolated individuals.  Such a group will come together to establish educational institutions to preserve culture, regulate commerce in order to help normalize economic interactions, pass many laws that regulate our social interactions, and undertake many other affairs.  Although all of these things benefit the individuals in the given society, such a group of self-governing people do not aim merely at the private satisfaction of the people.  This kind of “democracy” works together, for common political goals.

On the other hand, there can be a community that merely aims at the private goods of the citizens.  The Greek philosopher Aristotle remarked in his text, the Politics,  that democracy was a government by the numerous poor people for the sake of those same people’s private goods.  Clearly, he was using “democracy” in this sense.  If the people of a nation only come together in order to assure their own private freedom and to receive benefits for themselves, a given society is this kind of so-called democracy.

Of course, it is difficult to say what is the state of any particular nation today.  Often, elements of each of these kinds of governance is found in a given country at a particular time.  Still, it is important to be aware that such an “equivocation” is possible.  Otherwise, we will end up saying rather foolish things like, “Democracy is always a good form of government,” or, “democracy is a horrible form of government.”

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

Possible Answers:

However, it is important to make a clearer distinction, for this is confusing.

However, it is important to make a clearer distinction for those who are confused.

NO CHANGE

However, it is important to make a clearer distinction than what is normally presented.

Correct answer:

However, it is important to make a clearer distinction than what is normally presented.

Explanation:

Adjectives can be positive, comparative, or superlative. For this sentence, the adjective "clearer" is at issue.  We can say "clear," "clearer," and "clearest." When we use a comparative degree adjective like "clearer," we need to say be explicit about the comparison. Thus, we must say that one thing is clearer than something else, whatever that might be.

Example Question #32 : Comparative And Superlative Adjective And Adverb Errors

“Intellectual Virtues”

Whenever someone talks about being “virtuous,” we immediately think of someone whose very moral.  Perhaps we even think of people who are a bit boring for virtuous people can appear to have no fun at least in the popular imagination.  Whatever the case might be, almost any reader would be surprised to see the expression “intellectual virtues.”  What could this expression mean to designate!  At best, most people would say, “Such virtues must describe people for who knowledge is combined with devotion and rigorous discipline.”  That is; they would seem to describe the person who has a disciplined character in addition to being intelligent.

However, in ancient and medieval philosophy, certain intellectual capacities were considered virtues.  These character traits were not quite the same as moral character traits or virtues.  To understand this idea, it can be helpul to consider two example people, one whose skills are the fruit of a so-called intellectual virtue and the other whose skills are not.

It is easier to start with the person who does not have a given intellectual virtue.  We all know someone who is not very good at math, that is, someone for who math is difficult even though he or she might be quite skilled at many other tasks   It makes sense to say that this person doesn’t have an intellectual virtue.  Likewise, think of the person who is only able to memorize formulas.  Such a person is often very good at working through many problems with deft skill.  This person seems to be a “wiz” at geometry and algebra, quickly solving equations and proofs. 

However, this latter person might suddenly be presented with a difficult, new problem.  When we notice that he or she does not have the creative skill and insight to solve the problem, we realize that he or she does’nt have a so-called “intellectual virtue.”  This person merely has a habit—a particular skill that is helpful but does not indicate true and complete mathematical knowledge.  The person who is able to understand the mathematics and creatively apply this knowledge to solve new problems.  This person has a true intellectual virtue.  They have a particular ability for intellectual insight, able to probe the difficult domain of this topic.  This is much more noble as the mere habit of being able to balance equations and repeat facts about geometric figures!

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

Possible Answers:

This is much noble as

This is much more nobler as

This is much nobler then

This is much nobler than

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

This is much nobler than

Explanation:

There are two issues with the comparative form of "noble." Because this word is sufficiently short, you merely need "nobler" instead of "more noble" for the comparison. In addition, the word "as" is not the appropriate comparison preposition. You need the word "than." Note that it is not "then." The word "then" expresses temporality, not comparison.

Example Question #33 : Comparative And Superlative Adjective And Adverb Errors

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

Abraham Lincoln was taller than any United States President.

Possible Answers:

all of the United States Presidents.

NO CHANGE

anyone who has ever served as United States President.

any other United States President.

the men who have been United States Presidents.

Correct answer:

any other United States President.

Explanation:

Abraham Lincoln was a United States President, thus, he cannot be taller than himself. All of the incorrect answer choices involve comparing Lincoln to groups to which he belonged.

Example Question #34 : Comparative And Superlative Adjective And Adverb Errors

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

After considering several possible solutions to the Calculus problem, Jennifer chose the one that she considered more efficient.

Possible Answers:

the more efficient solution.

NO CHANGE

mostly efficient.

more efficiently.

most efficient.

Correct answer:

most efficient.

Explanation:

Since we can assume that there are more than two possible solutions to the problem, the superlative form "st" or "est" would be necessary. The example sentence uses the comparative, which would require two specific items of comparison to be correct in this instance.

Example Question #35 : Comparative And Superlative Adjective And Adverb Errors

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

Betty won first prize for having the more delicious pie at the state fair.

Possible Answers:

delicious

most delicious

deliciouser

deliciousest

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

most delicious

Explanation:

This question asks you about the correct form of a superlative adjective. The sentence states that "Betty won first prize," so we know from this context that we need to use a superlative adjective, not a comparative adjective like "more delicious." The correct superlative form of the adjective "delicious" is "most delicious."

Example Question #36 : Comparative And Superlative Adjective And Adverb Errors

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

If the committee has to choose between Alan and Leo, I hope they select the most qualified candidate.

Possible Answers:

the candidate with the best qualifications.

NO CHANGE

a mostly qualified candidate.

the candidate who is most qualified.

more qualified candidate.

Correct answer:

more qualified candidate.

Explanation:

Since the sentence only compares two subjects, the use of the comparative "more" is appropriate here.

Example Question #37 : Comparative And Superlative Adjective And Adverb Errors

Josh suffered from a fear of dogs ever since he is a little boy. He would shiver in his boots thinking of a dog barking at him, biting him, or that could chase him. He had never met a single dog he liked. The scarier dog he had ever seen was Mr. Green’s dog, whom he had to pass every day. On his way to school. This dog barked so loudly it made Josh’s hairs stand on end.

She said that there was no need to be afraid. Josh’s mom told him that dogs only barked because they were excited to see him. She told him that he just needed to be confident and not act afraid of this dogs’ barking, and speak in a reassuring tone. Then the dog would quiet down and act more friendly.

Josh felt that neither confidence or a reassuring tone would make any difference. He didn’t think he would ever get over his fear. However, one day he had enough. Barking for hours, he realized the dog was bored and just needed a friend. He wasn’t sure if his mother’s advice would prove true? Hiding his fear, he approached the dog and spoke to it in a reassuring tone. To his surprise, the dog wagged it’s tail and quieted down right away. 

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

Possible Answers:

scariest

more scary

NO CHANGE

most scary

scary

Correct answer:

scariest

Explanation:

This question asks you to select the correct comparative or superlative form of an adjective. Mr. Green's dog is not being compared to any other dogs, but is being singled out as the worst. Therefore, the context of this passage calls for a superlative adjective, not a comparative adjective like "scarier." The correct superlative form of the adjective "scary" is "scariest."

Example Question #38 : Comparative And Superlative Adjective And Adverb Errors

Maybe your thinking of getting a dog; but you are not sure how it will affect your budget. Don’t worry! It’s possible to enjoy the companionship with a dog without spending too much of your precious dollars.

First, you will want to make a list of all the necessary items needed before you bring Fluffy home. Compare costs at different pet stores, grocery stores and big box stores. You will need to buy food, a leash, and purchase toys for your dog.

When it comes to the many dog food choices, you don’t want to just buy the cheaper option. You will want to do some research to see what is healthiest for your dog! One of the best ways to save money on dog food is to buy it in bulk.

Don’t forget to plan for some other big expenses, the vet consultation, wellness exam, and any treatments your dog needs. When you bring your pet to the vet, they may need shots, which can vary for price. Call different clinics in the area and ask how much they charge for the standard immunizations? You might find that there is a lot of differences between offices.

The key to sticking to your budget is planning everything out! With good preparation and organization, a dog will not cost you more money than you planned for.

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

Possible Answers:

cheap

NO CHANGE

cheapest

most cheap

more cheap

Correct answer:

cheapest

Explanation:

This question asks you to select the correct comparative or superlative form of an adjective. Since the sentence references the existence of "many dog food choices," we know there are more than two brands. Therefore, it is appropriate to use a superlative form rather than a comparative form. The correct superlative form of the adjective "cheap" is "cheapest."

Example Question #461 : Usage Errors

Going to France for the summer was much more expensive than living at home. Overall though, I would rate traveling in Europe as ever-so-slightly more enjoyable than sleeping on my parents' hide-away bed.

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

Possible Answers:

much expensiver than

expensive

NO CHANGE

most expensive compared to

expensivest compared to

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

This question asks you about the correct form of a comparative verb. Since only two things are being compared in this sentence, we should use a comparative form rather than a superlative form like "most expensive." The correct comparative form of the adjective "expensive" is "most expensive."

Example Question #461 : Usage Errors

On the weekends, I enjoy hiking, baking, dancing, and to spend time with my friends. Most of all, however, I love to run. I never thought of myself as a talented runner.  However, when Jenna moved to my neighborhood, she inspired me to join the track team and find my stride. We met when we were both walking to class, and when I asked Jenna about her elective classes, she enthusiastically began talking about the track team. “You should join”! she exclaimed. I told her I’m not a very good runner, and she responded that anybody could be a decent runner with enough practice and the right attitude. 

We started practicing after school and on weekends, and eventually I decided to try out for the team.  To my surprise, I made the cut.  Even though everybody else had a faster finish time than me,  I enjoyed being part of the first race of the semester.

Because she is both dedicated and naturally talented, Jenna is the better runner on the entire team. Despite her success, she is never arrogant and always willing to help others develop their athletic skills. When all of the high schools in the state send they’re top three runners to the championship, everyone on the team travel to support Jenna.

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

Possible Answers:

better at running

NO CHANGE

best of a runner

the better of all the runners

the best runner

Correct answer:

the best runner

Explanation:

When more than two things are being compared, in this case all of the runners on the team (assume team means more than two unless stated otherwise) use the superlative "best" instead of the comparative "better."

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