SAT Writing : Identifying Comparative and Superlative Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #473 : Identifying Sentence Errors

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:

No error

than

has

to convince

less

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 #31 : 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

more sports

more athletic one

Among

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 #475 : Identifying Sentence 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:

No error

became 

how many

compared 

less

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 #21 : 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.

Between Melville’s Moby Dick and Cervantes’ Don Quixote, I find the latter to be most compelling. No error

Possible Answers:

Between

latter

No error

find

most

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 #21 : 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.

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

Possible Answers:

most

Of English and biology

logical

nothing

No error

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 #21 : 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.

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

No error

and

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 #479 : Identifying Sentence 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:

they

the most convenient

No error

debated endlessly

were fun

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."

Example Question #371 : 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.

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:

most

throwing

could not decide

No error

he

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 #481 : Identifying Sentence 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:

because

its

No error

Of

the best

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 #181 : 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:

is reading

the one

No error

between

better

Correct answer:

better

Explanation:

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

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