One of the most important and high scoring section in verbal ability portion of any test, SC is generally taken by students to be English grammar. This is a misconception as the questions asked in this section are based not only on the fundamentals of grammar but also on correct usage of various words. The students find it difficult to crack these because they are not familiar with the subtle nuances of the language.
Though the intricacies of this language are far more than what can be covered here, we can take a short cut route to answering these questions. Looking at the questions from various sources we have made a list of common sentence correction errors that are repeated frequently. We will be discussing the list in detail and will equip our self to handle almost all the questions in this section.
The verb in a sentence must agree with its subject.
(i) They both should be either singular or plural.
A boy is reading a novel (sing.).
The boys are reading a novel (plural)
(ii) In case, the subject is a collective noun, then the verb will take a singular form.
The class is making a noise.
Note: There are four collective nouns viz.- cattle, poultry, police and gentry; with these nouns, we use a plural verb. There are exceptions to the rule.
(iii) In case, the subjects are connected by AND; they require a plural verb.
Gold and Silver are precious metals.
If the subjects are connected by OR, the verb used will be singular
The dog or the pup is sick.
In case there are two different subjects; the verb is put matching the closure subject.
Sachin or I am going for a party.
Sachin or Rahul is going for the party.
(iv) All the sentences that begin with EACH, EVERYONE and ANYONE will have a singular verb.
Every one of the boys loves to ride.
Anyone has a pen, please.
(v) I, ME: While deciding between the nominative form (i.e. I ) and the objective form (i.e., me); earlier the nominative form was preferred.
Atul and I are going for a walk.
But lately its use is considered formal and over correct .We usually use the objective form, i.e. there is no difference between you and me.
Please, let Jack and me go to the theatre.
But whenever a comparison is made with THAN or AS; the objective form is used.
He is taller than I am.
He writes as fast I am.
I swim better than him.
I am as tall as her.
(vi) In the constructions of NEITHER-NOR and EITHER-OR; if both the subjects are singular , the verb will also be singular example Either the mother or the daughter has cooked the meal.
But when one of the subjects are joined by OR or NOR is plural, the verb must be plural and the subject should be placed near the verb.
Neither the teacher nor the students were present.
While forming a sentence, the structure of the sentence should be kept parallel. If an infinitive is used, then all the phrases should have an infinitive. If a verb is used after it, then we use the objective cases.
She likes to cook, dance and play.
Similar rule is used for a gerund.
She likes cooking, dancing and playing.
Sometimes also referred a ‘redundancy’, this is the error of writing the same thing twice.
He returned back from Delhi.
I hardly have any money to give you.
The correct constructions should be;
He came back from Delhi.
I have no money to give you.
A common blunder is to leave a participle dangling without a subject.
Sitting on the g ate, a scorpion stung him.
Here, ‘sitting’ cannot be used for scorpion as it is grammatically incorrect.. The correct should be:-
Sitting on the gate, he was stung by a scorpion or
While he was sitting on the gate, a scorpion stung him.
He visited the place where Napoleon died during his holidays.
It seems as the participle ‘during his holidays’ is used for Napoleon while it is meant for the person visiting .So the correct sentence should be:-
During his holidays, he visited the place where Napoleon died. This way, it is correctly understood.
Few is used before countable nouns while ‘less’ is used before uncountable nouns.
There a few children in the class today.
There is less juice left in the jar.
Few and A few have different meanings
Few is equivalent to something negligible, hardly any while. A few is equivalent to some.
Few persons can keep a secret.
A few persons are convinced about the new manager.
Similarly ‘little’ and ‘a little’ are used for quantity in the same manner. There is little hope of his recovery (almost nil). A little tact would have saved the situation (some tact).
The comparisons made should be between two similar things. If we say:- The population of London is greater than any other city in India. We are comparing:-
(a) The population of London
(b) Any other city in India.
While comparison had to be made between the populations of both. So, the correct expression should be:-
The population of London is greater than that of any other city in India.
(a) When comparative degree is used with than, make sure that we exclude the thing compared from the rest of class of things by using the
He is stronger than any man living.(incorrect).
He is stronger than any other man living.(correct).
Similarly, Solomon was wiser than all other men.
In superlative degree, we must include the thing compared.
Solomon was the wisest of all men.
He is the strongest of all men.
We need to distinguish between these two words as they are used very differently.
(a) Lay, laid, laid
‘Lay the table’ ordered the mistress
He laid the guitar by his side.
The hen had laid an egg.
(b) Lie, Lay, Lain
Let me lie down here.
He lay under the Banyan tree.
He had lain in the sun for three hours yesterday.
If you become stuck, 'say' the choices in your head and then select the passage that sounds best to your ears. Most test takers, particularly native English speakers, have internalized many more grammar rules than they can explicitly identify.
Use time cues (ex. before, during, as, in 1960) to eliminate options that contain verb tense errors. Remember, events that occur during the same time period must be in the same tense!
If a sentence is about some sort of numerical quantity (ex. the percentage of homeowners in Minneapolis or the number of women studying French) check for idiomatic errors. Remember: "fewer" describes a countable quantity, like people; "less" describes an uncountable quantity, like sugar. Also check for redundancy (ex. "went up by a 20% increase").