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Typical Errors on the SAT Proofreading Section

Adjective-Adverb Errors

Illustrative Sentences

  • The exacting editor looked extremely close at the young author's final manuscript, but could find no typographical, grammatical, or other errors.
  • The team of surgeons worked slowly and steady during the most delicate phase of the operation on the newborn infant's heart.
I'm sure you know the difference between an adjective and an adverb (and if you're a little shaky on these terms you should take a moment to review the definitions in The SAT Proofreading and Editing Section: Basic Principles.) Adjectives modify only nouns or pronouns; adverbs modify primarily verbs, but also adjectives and other adverbs. What's the big deal? What makes these errors so pesky is that the adjective and adverb forms of many words look almost identical, with two or three letters making all the difference.

In the first example, the word "close" is supposed to modify the verb "looked" so it should take the adverb form, "closely." It's easy to misread this sentence because of the expression "taking a close look," in which the word "close" now modifies the noun, "a look," and so is in the correct adjective form.

In the second example, the adjective "steady" should be the adverb "steadily" because it modifies the verb "worked." Here again, if you weren't on the lookout for this type of error, you can see how it would be possible to miss it entirely (just like diction errors).

Related Errors

If this type of error tends to trip you up, you should also review the following category:

  • diction errors

Next: Page 9 >>

From The RocketReview Revolution: The Ultimate Guide to the New SAT and the PSAT by Adam Robinson. Copyright © 2005. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

If you'd like to buy this book, click here.


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