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Adjectives, Adverbs

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Adjectives, Adverbs

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[edit section] Inside SAT Writing Section Guide: Identifying Sentence Errors

  1. Breaking Down Sentence Error Questions
  2. Subject/Verb Agreement
  3. Pronoun/Antecedent Agreement
  4. Verb Tenses
  5. Adjectives, Adverbs
  6. Verbals
  7. Parallel Structure
  8. Idiomatic Expressions in English


[edit section] Adjectives, Adverbs

The College Board will test you on your knowledge of what adverbs and adjectives are and what they modify. In the Improving Sentence Errors portion of the Writing section, you will be expected to spot incorrectly-used adverbs and adjectives. The only way that you will be proficient at the detection of these mistakes is to fully understand what adjectives and adverbs actually do to other parts of speech and how they are correctly employed in a sentence.


[edit section] Adjectives

An adjective is a word that describes a noun. The simplest adjectives are those that you may have learned as a child - for example:


John has a black bag.


The adjective in the sentence is "black," which describes the bag. Here is a slightly more complex example:


Terry, a mother of three, has within her purse a dozen red roses.


The adjective in the sentence is "red," which describes the dozen roses.

The SAT will contain a few questions that test you on your ability to correctly use adjective comparative modifiers. A modifier compare two or more nouns and is commonly recognized as a "superlative," with the suffixes "-er" and "-est."


Here's a quick example of a sentence that uses such adjective modifiers:


Mike is bigger than he.


In the above sentence, Mike is compared to "he," a pronoun. The point is that between the two of them, Mike is "bigger." What if there are three or more people?


Between Mike, Scott, and Ted, Mike is the biggest.


When you have three things to compare, you use the "-est" suffix.


The SAT will have a few questions in which these modifiers are used incorrectly:


Among my friends, I am the smarter one.


Because more than two things are being compared ("friends + I"), you must use the "-est" modifier. The sentence should read:


Among my friends, I am the smartest one.


Similarly, there may be questions in which it falsely appears that there are more than two things being compared:


The students at King High are smartest than the students at Lincoln High.


Although "students" is plural, "students" are not what is being compared. Actually, "students at King High" are compared to "students at Lincoln High," which is a direct comparison of two things. The sentence should read:


The students at King High are smarter than the students at Lincoln High.


[edit section] Adverbs

Adjectives describe nouns. Adverbs, on the other hand, describe adjectives, verbs, or other adverbs. For example:


He slowly walked to the classroom.


The word "slowly" modifies the verb "to walk," conjugated as "walked." It describes how "he" walked to the classroom. Here is another example:


Even a person who drives carefully cannot operate a motor vehicle when he is under the influence of alcohol.


The word "carefully" describes how he "drives." The College Board will not ask you what an adverb is. Rather, it will ask you questions in which it mixes up adverbs and adjectives. Here are two sentences with incorrect adverb/adjective usage:


If you want to arrive on time you better leave quick.


I told him that he did a well job on the assignment.


In the first sentence, "quick" is used to describe how you should "leave," but "quick" is an adjective. You should use the adverb "quickly." In the second sentence, "well" is used to describe a job, but "well" is an adjective. "Well" should be "good." The correct sentences are:


If you want to arrive on time you better leave quickly.


I told him that he did a good job on the assignment.


[edit section] Moving On

In the next lesson we will take a look at the different types of verbal and how they can show up on the SAT to fool you.

[edit section] Additional Resources

[edit section] Inside SAT Writing Section Guide: Identifying Sentence Errors

  1. Breaking Down Sentence Error Questions
  2. Subject/Verb Agreement
  3. Pronoun/Antecedent Agreement
  4. Verb Tenses
  5. Adjectives, Adverbs
  6. Verbals
  7. Parallel Structure
  8. Idiomatic Expressions in English

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