PSAT Writing : Identifying Comparative and Superlative Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #274 : Identifying Word Usage Errors

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

Of the three elements necessary to create metal alloys, titanium is the stronger, lead is the heaviest, and aluminum is the most pliable. No error

Possible Answers:

necessary to

most pliable

heaviest

stronger

No error

Correct answer:

stronger

Explanation:

Remember to use the comparative form of an adjective (the form that ends in "-er" or is preceded by "more") when comparing only two items, and to use the superlative form of an adjective (the form that ends in "-est" or is preceded by "most") when comparing more than two items. This sentence tells us that there are three items being compared, so "heaviest" and "most pliable" are correct here. Only "stronger" is in the comparative form when it should be in the superlative form, so it contains the sentence's error. The answer choice "necessary to" is a correct use of the idiom.

Example Question #11 : 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.

In demand as magazine editor and resident gossip queen, Paulina has never been more busier than she is this week. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

as

has never been

more busier

she is

Correct answer:

more busier

Explanation:

The phrase "more busier" is redundant—it should just be "busier," which implies the "more" aspect already. As seems like an attractive choice, but the phrase "in demand as magazine editor" displays proper idiomatic usage.

Example Question #361 : Psat Writing Skills

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

Alex has less ideas than his brother on how to convince their mother to buy them new television. No error

Possible Answers:

has

less

to convince

No error

than

Correct answer:

less

Explanation:

We use the word "less" to describe a quantity that doesn't have discrete parts. For example, we can say that we have "less money," because money doesn't have an inherent discrete unit; however, we cannot say that we have "less dollars" because a dollar is a discrete unit of dollars. In the case of the sentence above, since ideas have a discrete unit of a single idea, we say "fewer ideas," not "less ideas."

Example Question #33 : Identifying Adjective And Adverb 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 twins, Lisa seems to be the more athletic one because she participates in more sports and also works in the health and fitness industry. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

health and fitness industry

Among

more athletic one

more sports

Correct answer:

Among

Explanation:

When two subjects are being compared (such as the twins in this sentence), the appropriate preposition to use for comparison is "between." "Among" is only appropriate when three or more subjects are being compared.

Example Question #34 : Identifying Adjective And Adverb Errors

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

After Bobby counted how many Christmas presents he had compared to his brother, he became very upset when he realized that he had less presents. No error

Possible Answers:

compared 

less

No error

became 

how many

Correct answer:

less

Explanation:

When describing the quantity of an item that is countable, like "presents," "fewer" should be used. "Less" should only be used when a particular item is not countable, as in "less water" or "less fuel." 

Example Question #35 : Identifying Adjective And Adverb 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 Melville’s Moby Dick and Cervantes’ Don Quixote, I find the latter to be most compelling. No error

Possible Answers:

Between

find

latter

most

No error

Correct answer:

most

Explanation:

This sentence uses a superlative incorrectly. Since there are only two options, “more” should be used instead of “most.” The corrected sentence reads, "Between Melville’s Moby Dick and Cervantes’ Don Quixote, I find the latter to be more compelling."

Example Question #36 : Identifying Adjective And Adverb Errors

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

Of English and biology, I find English to be the most challenging subject—nothing is logicalNo error

Possible Answers:

No error

logical

Of English and biology

most

nothing

Correct answer:

most

Explanation:

This sentence uses a superlative (“most”) when comparing between only two items. The comparative “more” is better here. The corrected sentence reads: Of English and biology, I find English to be the more challenging subject—nothing is logical!

Example Question #37 : Identifying Adjective And Adverb 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 mushroom-topped cheeseburger and the roasted beet salad both sounded appealing, but Henry decided that the cheeseburger was likely to keep him full longest. No error

Possible Answers:

both sounded

longest

was likely to keep

but

No error

Correct answer:

longest

Explanation:

This sentence uses a superlative adjective (“longest”) to make a comparison between only two items (the cheeseburger and the salad). Superlative adjectives are used to compare three or more items. A comparative adjective would be grammatically correct. The corrected sentence reads: "The mushroom-topped cheeseburger and the roasted beet salad both sounded appealing, but Henry decided that the cheeseburger was likely to keep him full longer."

Example Question #38 : Identifying Adjective And Adverb 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 my friends Jenny, Tom, and Beth all enjoy breaking into spontaneous song and dance routines, Beth gets the bigger kick out of it. No error

Possible Answers:

While

bigger

and

No error

enjoy breaking into

Correct answer:

bigger

Explanation:

This sentence uses a comparative adjective “bigger” when there are three elements being compared. With three or more elements, a superlative (in this case “biggest”) is required. The corrected sentence reads, "While my friends Jenny, Tom, and Beth all enjoy breaking into spontaneous song and dance routines, Beth gets the biggest kick out of it."

Example Question #39 : Identifying Adjective And Adverb Errors

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

Richard debated endlessly between two options on the drug store shelf: the sour candies were fun because they made you pucker, but the lollipops were the most convenient because they came on little white sticks. No error

Possible Answers:

the most convenient

debated endlessly

No error

were fun

they

Correct answer:

the most convenient

Explanation:

This sentence uses a superlative (“the most convenient”) that only compares two things. A comparative is more appropriate. The corrected sentence reads, "Richard debated endlessly between two options on the drug store shelf: the sour candies were fun because they made you pucker, but the lollipops were more convenient because they came on little white sticks."

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