SAT Test Prep

CHAPTER 15
ESSENTIAL GRAMMAR SKILLS

Lesson 4: Comparison Problems

Illogical Comparisons


Any items being compared in a sentence must be logically comparable, that is, in the same general category. Always compare apples to apples, not apples to car batteries! Also, comparisons must obey the law of parallelism.


Chances and the lottery aren’t comparable things! We must compare chances to chances.


It is always illogical to say that something is different from itself. Watch out for sneaky contrasts like this:


Of course, she hasn’t played in more concerts than herself!

Fewer/Less, Number/Amount, and Many/Much


Use the words fewer, number, or many only in reference to countable things (like cars, dollars, and popsicles) and less, amount, or much only in reference to uncountable things (like traffic, money, and food). It is a common mistake to use less when you should use fewer.


Since fans can be counted, less doesn’t work. Use fewer instead.

Between/Among, More/Most, and -er/-est


Use between, more, and any -er adjectives only when comparing exactly two things. Use among, most, and -est adjectives when comparing more than two things.


Number Shift


Things that you compare should, if possible, agree in number. Be sure they are both plural or both singular.


Concept Review 4: Comparison Problems

1. How do you know whether to use fewer or less in a comparison?

2. How do you know whether to use more or most in a comparison?

In each sentence, underline any items that are being compared or equated. Below the sentence, state whether the comparison is logical or illogical. If it is illogical or contains another error in comparison, correct the sentence.

3. The critics’ guild praised the show, saying that it was consistently more intelligent and provocative than anything on the air.

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4. Team unity and commitment to practice were regarded by the players as the key to their success.

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5. Mathematics lessons in Japanese classrooms, unlike American classrooms, are often focused on solving a single complex problem rather than many simplistic problems.

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6. Increasingly, modern singers, like Gregorian chanters, are becoming adept at melisma, the singing of many notes on a single syllable.

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7. The electric-combustion engines of the new hybrid cars burn much more cleanly and efficiently than conventional cars.

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8. To the critics of the time, the surrealists were as inscrutable, if not more so, than the dadaists.

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9. In modern warfare, unlike the past, combatants rarely meet face to face, and are detected as often by video as by sight.

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10. Most people vastly prefer turning the pages of a real book to scrolling through the screens of an electronic novel.

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Worksheet 4: Comparison Problems

Correct any errors in the comparisons in the following sentences.

1. I prefer a lot of modern poetry to Shakespeare.

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2. Her suitcase would not close because she had packed too much of her towels into it.

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3. The year-end bonus was equally divided between Parker, Herriot, and me.

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4. Many students wanted to be a lifeguard at the club.

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5. The toughest thing about her class is you have to do tons of homework every night.

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6. Mr. Forstadt’s comments, like so many coaches, didn’t spare the players’ feelings in the least.

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7. After several days in the woods, we became concerned that we had packed a lot less meals than we would need.

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8. Even in the 21st century, women throughout the globe are treated like a slave, or, worse yet, like a nonperson.

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9. I’ve always preferred observational humor to those quirky prop comedians.

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10. It was remarkable that the children had donated so much toys to others who were barely needier than they.

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11. The formal structure of the sonnet imposes far more discipline on the mind of the poet than formless free verse.

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12. The theories of true anarchists, unlike modern antistatists, do not promote social chaos, but rather organization without authority.

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13. Those passengers with a disability will be permitted to board the plane first.

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14. The reason we lost the game is because our captain had torn his ACL.

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15. Voter apathy and cold weather were a reason that turnout was so poor at this year’s election.

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16. Having studied Faulkner and Hemingway, I’ve come to believe that Hemingway is the best writer, although Faulkner tells the best stories.

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Answer Key 4: Comparison Problems

Concept Review 4

1. Fewer is used to compare countable things, while less is used to compare uncountable things.

2. More is used only when comparing exactly two things, while most is used when comparing more than two.

3. The show is compared to anything on the air. Illogical: the show can only be better than anything else on the air.

4. Team unity and commitment are equated with the key. Illogical: they are the keys to their success.

5. Mathematics lessons are compared to American classrooms. Illogical: they should be compared to the lessons in American classrooms.

6. Modern singers are compared to Gregorian chanters. Logical and correct.

7. The engines are compared to conventional cars. Illogical: they should be compared to those in conventional cars.

8. The surrealists are compared to the dadaists. Logical, but grammatically incorrect: the surrealists were regarded as being as inscrutable as the dadaists, if not more so.

9. In modern warfare is compared to the past. Illogical: In modern warfare, unlike warfare in the past …

10. Turning is compared to scrolling. Logical and correct.

Worksheet 4

1. I prefer a lot of modern poetry to the poetry of Shakespeare.

2. Her suitcase would not close because she had packed too many of her towels into it.

3. The year-end bonus was equally divided among Parker, Harriot, and me.

4. Many students wanted to be lifeguards at the club.

5. The toughest thing about her class is having to do tons of homework every night.

6. Mr. Forstadt’s comments, like those of so many coaches, didn’t spare the players’ feelings in the least.

7. After several days in the woods, we became concerned that we had packed a lot fewer meals than we would need.

8. Even in the 21st century, women throughout the globe are treated like slaves, or, worse yet, like non-persons.

9. I’ve always preferred observational humor to quirky prop comedy.

10. It was remarkable that the children had donated so many toys to others who were barely needier than they.

11. The formal structure of the sonnet imposes far more discipline on the mind of the poet than does the formlessness of free verse.

12. The theories of the original anarchists, unlike those of modern antistatists, do not promote social chaos, but rather organization without authority.

13. Those passengers with disabilities will be permitted to board the plane first or Any passenger with a disability will be permitted to board the plane first.

14. The reason we lost the game is that our captain had torn his ACL.

15. Voter apathy and cold weather were the reasons that turnout was so poor at this year’s election.

16. Having studied Faulkner and Hemingway, I’ve come to believe that Hemingway is the better writer, although Faulkner tells the better stories.