PSAT Writing : Identifying Comparative and Superlative Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #187 : Identifying 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.

The toddler could not decide which he liked most: chasing the dog around the house or throwing his spoon down the laundry chute. No error

Possible Answers:

throwing

most

No error

he

could not decide

Correct answer:

most

Explanation:

This sentence uses a superlative (most) when it is only comparing two things. A comparative would be better. The corrected sentence reads, "The toddler could not decide which he liked more: chasing the dog around the house or throwing his spoon down the laundry chute."

 

Example Question #41 : 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 the two epics I have read, I like The Odyssey the best, not only because of its structure but also because of its fascinating story. No error

Possible Answers:

the best

No error

because

Of

its

Correct answer:

the best

Explanation:

This sentence makes a comparison incorrectly. When you compare two objects, use the comparative ("better") instead of the superlative ("the best").

Example Question #281 : 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.

Between reading, writing, and problem solving, the one I like better is readingNo error

Possible Answers:

the one

No error

between

is reading

better

Correct answer:

better

Explanation:

In this comparison of three items, the superlative form of good, "best," is required.

Example Question #31 : 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.

Shaking himself out of his reverie, the author reflected that he had rarely been more wearierNo error

Possible Answers:

Shaking himself

reflected

his reverie

No error

more wearier

Correct answer:

more wearier

Explanation:

This sentence combines two ways of forming comparisons. The “more” in unnecessary. The corrected sentence reads: "Shaking himself out of his reverie, the author reflected that he had rarely been wearier."

Example Question #32 : 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.

The chefs have discovered that they can cook most effectively using simple tools rather than electronic devices. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

have discovered

rather than

most effectively

they

Correct answer:

most effectively

Explanation:

"Most" is a superlative that is only used when at least three items are being compared. Here, only two items are being compared ("simple tools" and "electronic devices"). Therefore, "more" is the proper word choice, not "most." "Most effectively" is therefore the part of this sentence that contains an error.

Example Question #71 : 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 ideal option for us is to put Jane on the panel on globalization because she is the best of the two potential speakers, and no one else has shown any interest in participating. No error

Possible Answers:

best

No error

the panel

is to put

no one else has shown

Correct answer:

best

Explanation:

When two items or people are being compared, the appropriate word for the comparison is "better," not "best." Therefore, "best" contains the error; there were two applicants, so "better" should have been used, not "best," which is used to compare three or more items or people.

Example Question #34 : 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.

Even though everyone's experiments at the science fair were very well done, Ashley's was by far the better out of all of them. No error

Possible Answers:

at

better

No error

were

was

Correct answer:

better

Explanation:

When comparing more than two things, the superlative version of an adjective should be used. "Better" would be used to compare two experiments, but in this sentence, the word "best" should be used. So, "better" is the part of the sentence that contains the error.

Example Question #31 : 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.

We are very very excited about the change in the price of gas; it is great newsNo error

Possible Answers:

great news

We

No error

about

very 

Correct answer:

very 

Explanation:

The double use of "very" is an empty superlative; it serves no purpose in formal written American English, which is what the SAT is testing.

Example Question #291 : 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.

Maria had a gigantic bouncy castle at her birthday party, making it significantly more popular than SusieNo error

Possible Answers:

making

No error

gigantic

more popular than Susie

at her

Correct answer:

more popular than Susie

Explanation:

In this sentence, there is an illogical comparison between Maria’s birthday party (a thing) and Susie (a person). Assuming that the comparison should be between two birthday parties, the corrected sentence reads: "Maria had a gigantic bouncy castle at her birthday party, making it significantly more popular than Susie’s party."

Example Question #38 : 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.

I used to find information about public transportation on the printed schedules, but I have discovered that the online ones are the most helpfulNo error

Possible Answers:

used to find

have discovered

No error

schedules, but

the most helpful

Correct answer:

the most helpful

Explanation:

This sentence uses a superlative (“most”) when it is only comparing between two things. The comparative “more” would be better. The corrected sentence reads, "I used to find information about public transportation on the printed schedules, but I have discovered that the online ones are the most helpful."

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