SAT Writing : Correcting Comparative and Superlative Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #41 : 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.

What do you think is most difficult: tactics or strategy?

Possible Answers:

What do you think is more difficult: tactics or strategy?

What do you think is the most difficult: tactics, or strategy?

What do you think is a most difficult: tactics, or strategy?

What do you think is most difficult: tactics or strategy?

What do you think is most difficult: tactics, or strategy?

Correct answer:

What do you think is more difficult: tactics or strategy?

Explanation:

When you are comparing only two things, you must use the comparative construction of the adjective or adverb in question. When you are comparing three or more things, or an indefinite number of things, you must use the superlative construction instead. The best way to correct the underlined portion above is: "What do you think is more difficult: tactics or strategy?"

Note that while "tactics" and "strategy" are sometimes used synonymously, this is not accurate. "Tactics" refers to specific techniques used to deal with situations or techniques, while "strategy" refers to the overall plan for dealing with a situation. "Tactics" deal with minutiae, while "strategies" deal with large-scale plans and concepts.

Example Question #42 : 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.

Fried chicken is my favorite food, but it certainly isn't the healthier thing to eat.

Possible Answers:

because it certainly isn't the healthier thing to eat.

but it certainly isn't the healthiest thing to eat.

so it certainly isn't the healthier thing to eat.

but it certainly isn't the healthier thing to eat.

and it certainly isn't the healthier thing to eat.

Correct answer:

but it certainly isn't the healthiest thing to eat.

Explanation:

When you are comparing only two things, you must use the comparative construction of the adjective or adverb in question. When you are comparing three or more things (or an indefinite number of things), you must use the superlative construction instead. In this case, no other item is named, so we can assume that "fried chicken" is being compared to all other food options, in terms of healthiness. The best way to correct the underlined portion above is: "but it certainly isn't the healthiest thing to eat."

Example Question #43 : 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.

I love both Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj, but in my heart of hearts I know that Nicki is the best artist.

Possible Answers:

that Nicki is the best Artist.

which Nicki is the best artist.

that Nicki is the better artist.

that Nicki is the best artist.

that Nicki is a best artist.

Correct answer:

that Nicki is the better artist.

Explanation:

When you are comparing only two things, you must use the comparative construction of the adjective or adverb in question. When you are comparing three or more things, you must use the superlative construction instead. The best way to correct the underlined portion above is: "that Nicki is the better artist."

Note that the introduction of one other item directly affects the grammar of the rest of the sentence. It would be perfectly grammatically correct to say, "In my heart of hearts I know that Nicki is the best artist." But, once an introductory clause has been used that discussed Nicki in conjunction with "Taylor Swift" a comparative structure becomes necessary.

Example Question #44 : 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.

Of all the villains in Armadilloman's gallery of enemies, the Humorous Prankster is by far the more dangerous.

Possible Answers:

the Humorous Prankster is by far the more dangerouser.

the Humorous Prankster is by far the dangerousest.

the Humorous Prankster is by far the dangerous.

the Humorous Prankster is by far the more dangerous.

the Humorous Prankster is by far the most dangerous.

Correct answer:

the Humorous Prankster is by far the most dangerous.

Explanation:

When you are comparing only two things, you must use the comparative construction of the adjective or adverb in question. When you are comparing three or more things, or an indefinite number of things, you must use the superlative construction instead. Since the group of enemies is described as a "gallery" we know that there are many, certainly more than two, enemies to which the "Humorous Prankster" is being compared. The best way to correct the underlined portion above is: "the Joker is by far the most dangerous."

Example Question #45 : 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.

William is undoubtedly the strongest member of the squad, but Richard is most honorable than him.

Possible Answers:

or Richard is more honorable than him.

but Richard is more honorable than him.

and Richard is most honorable than him.

but Richard is the most honorable than him.

but Richard is most honorable than him.

Correct answer:

but Richard is more honorable than him.

Explanation:

When you are comparing one thing to only one other thing, you must use the comparative construction of the adjective or adverb in question. When you are comparing three or more things, or an indefinite number of things, you must use the superlative construction instead. Superlatives distinguish one item from many others in one particular aspect. Comparatives directly compare one item to only one other item. The best way to correct the underlined portion above is: "but Richard is more honorable than him."

Note that since the second clause provides information that contradicts the sentiment of the first clause "but" rather than "or" is the correct conjunction.

Example Question #46 : 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.

Chicago is a most beautiful city, but New York has a lot going for it.

Possible Answers:

Chicago is a more beautiful city,

Chicago is a most beautiful city;

Chicago is a most beautiful city,

Chicago is the most beautiful city,

Chicago is a more beautiful city;

Correct answer:

Chicago is a more beautiful city,

Explanation:

When you are comparing only two things, you must use the comparative construction of the adjective or adverb in question. When you are comparing three or more things, or an indefinite number of things, you must use the superlative construction instead. The best way to correct the underlined portion above is: "Chicago is a more beautiful city,"

Since the two clauses are connected into a compound sentence with a comma and a coordinating conjunction, the comparison between Chicago and New York is grammatically necessary. Note that it is incorrect to follow a semicolon with a coordinating conjunction.

Example Question #47 : 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.

I hate dealing with Barry, because he is most difficult to deal with than John.

Possible Answers:

I hate dealing with Barry, he is more difficult to deal with than John.

I hate dealing with Barry, because he is more difficult to deal with than John.

I hate dealing with Barry; because he is most difficult to deal with than John.

I hate dealing with Barry, he is most difficult to deal with than John.

I hate dealing with Barry, because he is most difficult to deal with than John.

Correct answer:

I hate dealing with Barry, because he is more difficult to deal with than John.

Explanation:

When you are comparing only two things, you must use the comparative construction of the adjective or adverb in question. When you are comparing three or more things, or an indefinite number of things, you must use the superlative construction instead. In this instance only "Barry" and "John" were mentioned as items of comparison, so the comparative, rather than the superlative construction is required. The best way to correct the underlined portion above is, "I hate dealing with Barry, because he is more difficult to deal with than John."

Example Question #48 : 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.

Of all her offspring, Romeo made Lady Montague the prouder.

Possible Answers:

Of all her offspring; Romeo made Lady Montague the prouder.

Of all her offspring; Romeo made Lady Montague the proudest.

Of all her offspring, but Romeo made Lady Montague the proudest.

Of all her offspring, Romeo made Lady Montague the prouder.

Of all her offspring, Romeo made Lady Montague the proudest.

Correct answer:

Of all her offspring, Romeo made Lady Montague the proudest.

Explanation:

When you are comparing only two things, you must use the comparative construction of the adjective or adverb in question. When you are comparing three or more things, or an indefinite number of things, you must use the superlative construction instead. The phrase "Of all" is usually a very reliable indicator that a superlative construction will be needed, if you wish to distinguish one particular item from that group. The best way to correct the underlined portion above is, "Of all her offspring, Romeo made Lady Montague the proudest."

Example Question #49 : 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.

I have the harder time playing tennis, of all sports it is by far the most difficult for me.

Possible Answers:

I have the hardest time playing tennis,

I have the harder time playing tennis,

I have the hardest time playing tennis:

I had the harder time playing tennis,

I have the hardest time playing tennis;

Correct answer:

I have the hardest time playing tennis,

Explanation:

When you are comparing only two things, you must use the comparative construction of the adjective or adverb in question. When you are comparing three or more things, or an indefinite number of things, you must use the superlative construction instead. In this case, the superlative construction is needed (as it usually is when the phrase "of all" makes an appearance), so the best way to correct the underlined portion above is, "I have the hardest time playing tennis,"

Example Question #50 : 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.

Of all the eligible candidates, Paulus would make the better emperor.

Possible Answers:

Of all the eligible candidates, Paulus would make the better emperor.

Of all the eligible candidates, Paulus would make the best emperor.

Of all the eligible candidates, Paulus would make the worse emperor.

Of all the eligible candidates; Paulus would make the better emperor.

Of all the eligible candidates: Paulus would make the better emperor.

Correct answer:

Of all the eligible candidates, Paulus would make the best emperor.

Explanation:

When you are comparing only two things, you must use the comparative construction of the adjective or adverb in question. When you are comparing three or more things, or an indefinite number of things, you must use the superlative construction instead. Since the word "all" is used, we can assume there are more than two "eligible candidates." The best way to correct the underlined portion above is, "Of all the eligible candidates, Paulus would make the best emperor."

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