ACT English : Other Usage Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

Example Question #2 : Comparative And Superlative Adjective And Adverb Errors

The bayou was quiet, except for the sounds of insects, water and the occasional alligator. Jim was cleaning his blade, which he had recently used to dispatch one of the undead. His partner Bill and him had come out to the bayou for their nightly patrol and they had found a nest of the undead by an old abandoned dock.

"Hey, Bill!," he shouted gleefully, mindless of whether the noise would attract more undead. "Where'd you go, man?"

A noise to his left had startled him. He turned quick and saw the man who had been closest to him than a brother for the past six months walking slowly toward him.

"Whew," he said: "there you are." He went back to cleaning his blade. "I thought one of those things had got 'cha."

Standing in the dark, the light of the moon did not reach his partners face. The sudden silence caused Jim to look up again. "What's the matter with you, Bill?"

It was only when the thing that was once Bill stepped into the light and Jim saw the fresh bite on it's newly dead face that he realized what the matter was.

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:

NO CHANGE

who had been close to him than a brother

who had been closer to him than a brother

who had been closest to him than brothers

Correct answer:

who had been closer to him than a brother

Explanation:

The use of "than" indicates that the comparison of the relative closeness of Bill to Jim is not the superlative, which would require "closest." The superlative adjective "closest" would need to be changed to the comparative adjective "closer" to correct the sentence.

Example Question #1 : Comparative And Superlative Adjective And Adverb Errors

Thomas placed his quill on the parchment, looking toward the mantel upon which, earlier that morning, he saw the painting of the old monastic saint, Benedict of Nursia. To his surprise, the mantel was empty, not having any items on it’s narrow flat surface. As the image had been a gift from his old schoolmaster; he was concerned at the absence of the item.

He asked himselfWhere could it have went?” Then, he gathered together his work and decided to ask one of his officemates about the cherished image. Leaving the room, he entered the foyer and turning to the secretary asked about the whereabouts of the others’.

The secretary looked at Thomas’ imposing figure and answered, “A group of the professors departed earlier for a University meeting; however, I cant recall exactly when they departed.” Although Thomas was not known for being passionate, the young secretary could see that he was agitated than usual.

The older man did not wish to worry his younger coworker. Smiling slightly, he said, “Don’t worry, Reginald. I seem to have misplaced my image of Benedict, though I know not how.” He continued by telling the younger man the chronology of events. Suddenly, the detailed recounting jogged the latters’ memory. He forgot an obvious detail that he only now remembered.

Looking at Thomas in embarrassment, Reginald, said, “Earlier this afternoon, I came in to your working area take the painting. Bonaventure had come to visit and asked to borrow it. You were so engrossed by you’re work that I did not want to disturb you. He will be stopping by to see you and I later today, so we can ask him to return it.”

What is the best form of the bolded selection, "he was agitated than usual"?

Possible Answers:

he was more agitated than usual

he was most agitated than usual

he was agitateder than usual

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

he was more agitated than usual

Explanation:

The issue with the selection as written is its lack of a comparative form for the adjective "agitated." The key word to notice here is "than," which indicates that there is a comparison being made. The form "agitateder" is not correct. Given the number of syllables in "agitated," it is necessary to use "more" to indicate the comparative degree of the adjective in question.

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 all sale consumption and posession of alcohol

NO CHANGE

of every sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol

of all sales, consumption, and possession of alcohol

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 #81 : Other Usage 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:

NO CHANGE

the easy

easier

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 basketball players, but Michael is better.

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

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

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 #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 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.

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

 

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 would 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 I, 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 #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.

 

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

Possible Answers:

a strongest boy

a stronger boy

the strongest boy

a strongly 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 #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.

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:

more well

gooder

more good

best

better

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 #1821 : Act English

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 quick

more quickly

most quickly

most fast

faster

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."

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