SAT Writing : Correcting Comparative and Superlative Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

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 #32 : 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. One of the answer choices repeats the underlined portion as it is written.

Why do you look at me like I am so much lesser intelligently than you are?

Possible Answers:

much fewer intelligent

lessly intelligently

much lesser in intelligent

much less intelligent

much lessly intelligently

Correct answer:

much less intelligent

Explanation:

"Intelligently" is an adverb and adverbs are not used comparatively, so we need to change "intelligently" to "intelligent," an adjective. Also, "lesser," an adjective, needs to be changed to a determiner, "less." So, "less intelligent" is the correct answer.

Example Question #33 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

The teacher was reluctant to say which of the twin brothers was the worst musician; both were practically tone deaf.

Possible Answers:

The teacher was reluctant to say which of the twin brothers was the worst of the musicians;

The teacher was reluctant to say which of the twin brothers was the worse of the two musicians; 

The teacher was reluctant to say which of the twin brothers was the worst musician; 

The teacher was reluctant to say which of the twin brothers was the worsest musician; 

The teacher was reluctant to say which of the twin brothers was the worse musician; 

Correct answer:

The teacher was reluctant to say which of the twin brothers was the worse musician; 

Explanation:

If only two things are being compared, the comparative form ("better," "bigger," "smarter," etc.) is correct. If three or more things are being compared, the superlative form ("best," "biggest," "smartest," etc.) is correct. Because there are only the two brothers here, we use the comparative form: “worse” and not “worst.” In addition, because “worse musician” is more concise than “worse of the two musicians,” it is the better answer.

Example Question #34 : 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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

I’m not sure whose garden is of the prettiest: Leah’s, David’s, or Juanita’s.

Possible Answers:

I’m not sure whose garden is prettiest: 

I’m not sure whose garden is prettier: 

I’m not sure whose garden is the most pretty: 

I’m not sure whose garden is the most prettiest: 

I’m not sure whose garden is of the prettiest: 

Correct answer:

I’m not sure whose garden is prettiest: 

Explanation:

If only two things are being compared, the comparative form ("better," "bigger," "smarter," etc.) is correct. If three or more things are being compared, the superlative form ("best," "biggest," "smartest," etc.) is correct. Because there are three gardens here, we use the concise superlative form: “prettiest” and not “prettier,” “most pretty,” or “most prettiest.”

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 #402 : Correcting Word Usage 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.

Volleyball is more fun than basketball.

Possible Answers:

funner than

funner then

more fun then

more fun than

most fun than

Correct answer:

more fun than

Explanation:

Here, because you are making a direct comparison between two things, and the adjective in question is "fun," "more fun" is the correct construction. Additionally, you want to use "than," which indicates comparison, rather than "then," which indicates time or causation. 

Example Question #403 : Correcting Word Usage 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.

All the conspirators were envious, but he was the more avaricious of the group.

Possible Answers:

more avaricious

more avaricious than

avariciouser

avariciousest

most avaricious

Correct answer:

most avaricious

Explanation:

Here, you have a comparison between an individual and a group of people the size of which is unknown. Because you are not comparing two things directly, this is a superlative comparison. As such, the correct construction is "most avaricious."

Example Question #404 : Correcting Word Usage 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.

Many teams presented viable solutions to the problem, but it was clear that this team's proposal was the simpler one.

Possible Answers:

this team's proposal was the less complicated one.

this team's proposal was a simple one. 

this team's proposal was the simplest. 

this team's proposal was the simpler one.

this team's proposal was the most simpler one.

Correct answer:

this team's proposal was the simplest. 

Explanation:

In this sentence, one team's ideas are being compared to the ideas of many teams; therefore, it is correct to use the superlative form of "simple" ("simplest") rather than the comparative form ("simpler"), which is used when comparing two people or things. This means that the correct answer is "this team's proposal was the simplest." "Many" is an excellent warning sign of a superlative to come!

Example Question #405 : Correcting Word Usage 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.

Tom is strongest than Jimmy: he beat him at arm wrestling twice.

Possible Answers:

Tom is stronger to Jimmy

Tom is stronger than Jimmy

Tom is strongest than Jimmy

Tom is strong rather than Jimmy

Tom stronger than Jimmy

Correct answer:

Tom is stronger than Jimmy

Explanation:

When two things are being compared, it is necessary to use the comparative form of the adjective or adverb in question. In the case of "strong" the comparative construction is "stronger," and it is correct in the sentence. When more than two things ("a few things," for instance) are being compared the superlative is required: "Of all the boys, Tom is the strongest." A superlative is used to distinguish one person or thing from a group, a comparative is used to compare one thing or person to another.

Example Question #406 : Correcting Word Usage 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.

I can't run quickly than that horse over there; no human being can.

Possible Answers:

I can't run fast than that horse over there

I can't run more quicklier than that horse over there

I can't run more quickly than that horse over there

I can't run quickly than that horse over there

I can't run more quick than that horse over there

Correct answer:

I can't run more quickly than that horse over there

Explanation:

When two things are being compared, it is best to use the comparative form of the adjective or adverb in question. In the case of "quickly" the comparative construction is "more quickly," and it is correct in the sentence. "As quickly as" would also be acceptable in this situation.

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