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 #9 : 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.

During his lifetime, few people knew about the fuller extent of his condition.

Possible Answers:

about the full extent of his condition.

about the fuller extents of his condition.

about the fuller extent of his condition.

about the fuller extent for his condition.

around the fuller extent of his condition.

Correct answer:

about the full extent of his condition.

Explanation:

The use of "fuller" is incorrect in this sentence, as "fuller" implies a comparison, but is not comparing anything in the sentence. The use of the simple adjective "full" is perfectly appropriate in the sentence, making the correct answer choice "about the full extent of his condition."

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.

Carbohydrates and proteins both have less calories per gram than fats do.

Possible Answers:

Carbohydrates and proteins both have less calories per gram than fats do.

Carbohydrates and proteins both have less calories per gram than fats were to have.

Carbohydrates and proteins have less calories per gram than fats.    

Carbohydrates and proteins both have less calories per gram than fats. 

Carbohydrates and proteins both have fewer calories per gram than fats do. 

Correct answer:

Carbohydrates and proteins both have fewer calories per gram than fats do. 

Explanation:

Calories can be counted, and so we use the word "fewer." "Less" is for quantities that cannot be counted, such as water.  

Example Question #31 : 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.

Amy drinks lesser water than Johnny, which is why Johnny refills his water bottle more often than Amy does.

Possible Answers:

fewer

few

less

least

fewest

Correct answer:

less

Explanation:

As the question compares two people, a comparative form of the adjective in question must be used, meaning that "few," the regular form of the adjective, and "least" and "fewest," which are each superlative forms, are incorrect. While "fewer" and "less" might each look like a potentially correct answer, "fewer" is used to distinguish between countable nouns, while "less" is used to distinguish between uncountable nouns, like "water." (You can tell if a noun is countable or not if you could precede it with a number, and "seven water" doesn't make sense, given how "water" is used here.) So, "less" is the correct answer.

Example Question #651 : 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.

I've heard that all vitamins are good for you, but of all the different kinds, are there any that are better?

Possible Answers:

are better

is the better

is the most

are best

is better

Correct answer:

are best

Explanation:

When comparing more than two items, you should use superlative adjectives. So, in this case, you should use the word "best."

Example Question #21 : 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.

Less people threw they're support behind the politician as more of his personal issues were revealed.

Possible Answers:

Less people threw there support

Less peoples threw they're support

Fewer people threw their support

Fewer people threw they're support

Less people through they're support

Correct answer:

Fewer people threw their support

Explanation:

The use of "they're" is incorrect in the sentence. "They're" is a contraction for "they are," while the sentence needs the third person plural possessive pronoun, "their." "Fewer people threw their support" is the correct answer choice.

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