SAT Writing : Identifying Comparative and Superlative Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

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:

more wearier

Shaking himself

reflected

No error

his reverie

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 #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.

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

Possible Answers:

they

have discovered

rather than

most effectively

No error

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 #33 : 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 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:

No error

is to put

best

the panel

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

was

were

No error

better

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 #35 : 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:

very 

about

We

great news

No error

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 #36 : 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.

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

Possible Answers:

at her

gigantic

No error

making

more popular than Susie

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 #37 : 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.

It is true that both the knight and the samurai wielded swords; however, the samurai was certainly the most adept at swordplay. No error

Possible Answers:

both the knight

most

swords; however

wielded

No error

Correct answer:

most

Explanation:

In the above sentence, two subjects are being compared: the knight and the samurai. When a sentence compares only two subjects, it is appropriate to use the comparative form ("more") rather than the superlative form ("most") of adjectives.

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

the most helpful

schedules, but

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."

Example Question #39 : 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.

If less than thirty people are present tomorrow to vote for class president, we will postpone the election. No error

Possible Answers:

less than

No error

are present

to vote

president, we will

Correct answer:

less than

Explanation:

"Less than" should be changed to "fewer than." When deciding whether to use "less" or "fewer" in relation to a give noun, if you can count that noun or it has a plural ("people," "glasses of water," etc.) "fewer than" is grammatically correct, and if you can't count it or it has no plural ("time," "money," "water," measurements) "less than" is grammatically correct. As an example, you would say "less water," but "fewer buckets of water."

Example Question #40 : 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.

Most sweaters are made of acrylic, wool, or cashmere, and though they are the more expensive of the three, I prefer cashmere sweaters because they are so soft. No error

Possible Answers:

acrylic, wool, or cashmere,

No error

though

the more expensive of the three

Most

Correct answer:

the more expensive of the three

Explanation:

The phrase "the more expensive of the three" contains this sentence's error. Three types of sweaters are being compared: acrylic sweaters, wool sweaters, and cashmere sweaters. The comparative adjective "more" is used; this is incorrect because comparative adjectives are only used for comparing two things, as in the sentence, "I like vanilla ice cream more than chocolate-covered strawberries." When comparing three or more things, a superlative adjective should be used. In this case, that means that "more" should be changed to "most" to correct the sentence's error.

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