A good command of English grammar is essential in order to correctly solve sentence error spotting questions. However, even those who have decent understanding of grammar may fail to identify structural errors in a sentence. Therefore, ample practice is needed to successfully tackle these questions which make an important part of many Government job exams like: SSC, IBPS, SBI, Railways etc. The number of such questions may vary from one exam to another. But cracking a Govt. job exam is next to impossible if one neglects them.
As the Institute for Best SSC Coaching in Delhi & NCR, Vidya Guru approaches English grammar from a practical exam perspective. It specifically focuses on training students to spot erroneous sentences independently, preferably in the first reading itself. Learning basic grammatical concepts is essential to achieve such level of proficiency. However, one can get started by memorizing some common grammatical rules. The knowledge of these rules does come in handy at the time of attempting any competitive exam, where one is tested on English language proficiency.
Valuable & Handy Grammatical Rules
Rule- 1: Certain nouns have a singular form, but they always take plural verbs, e.g. Peasantry, Gentry, Police, People, Vermin, Cattle etc.
- Incorrect: The cattle was grazing in the field yesterday.
- Correct: The cattle were grazing in the field yesterday.
Rule- 2: ‘One of, each of, none of,’ are always followed by nouns in the plural form.
- Incorrect: One of the player was not on the field.
- Correct: One of the players was not on the field.
- Incorrect: Each of the student was given two books.
- Correct: Each of the students was given two books.
Rule- 3: If a collective noun does not act as a single unit, then it takes a plural verb.
- Incorrect: The medical panel was divided in its diagnosis.
- Correct: The medical panel were divided in their diagnosis.
- Incorrect: The family is at sixes and sevens regarding the division of ancestral property.
- Correct: The family are at sixes and sevens regarding the division of ancestral property.
Rule- 4: The possessive of the pronoun ‘one’ is ‘one’s’ and not ‘his/their’.
- Incorrect: One must do his duty towards humanity.
- Correct: One must do one’s duty towards humanity.
Rule- 5: Prepositions are not used with words uptown, downtown, outside, inside, downstairs and upstairs.
- Incorrect: Grandpa went to upstairs a few minutes ago.
- Correct: Grandpa went upstairs a few minutes ago.
- Incorrect: You must go to outside immediately.
- Correct: You must go outside immediately.
Rule- 6: If a recurrent action becomes problematic or irritating, present continuous tense should be used instead of simple present tense.
- Incorrect: He always hits me without any reason.
- Correct: He is always hitting me without any reason.
Rule- 7: It is preferable not to split the infinitive (to+V1)
- Incorrect: She liked to never play basketball.
- Correct: She never liked to play basketball.
Rule- 8: If two actions in a sentence are to take place in future, the conditional clause uses the simple present and the other clause uses the simple future.
- Incorrect: If she will come to Delhi, we will meet her.
- Correct: If she comes to Delhi, we will meet her.
- Incorrect: As soon as he will enter the room, you will turn off the lights.
- Correct: As soon as he enters the room, you will turn off the lights.
Rule- 9: For the conditional that refers to an impossible past condition and its likely result in the past, we use: Past Perfect & Would+Have+V3. Past Perfect is used for the impossible past condition. Would+Have+V3 is used for the likely result.
- Incorrect: If Joan would have invited me to the party, I would have met her.
- Correct: If Joan had invited me to the party, I would have met her.
Rule- 10: If two actions are shown to happen in the past, the action that happened first uses past perfect whereas the action that happened later uses simple past.
- Incorrect: By the time we reached there, he left the place.
- Correct: By the time we reached there, he had left the place.
Rule- 11: In case of comparisons, the subject of a sentence must be compared with another subject or a subjective pronoun. An objective pronoun must not be compared with the subject of a sentence.
- Incorrect: Janis is taller than me.
- Correct: Janis is taller than I.
- Incorrect: Devika is as honest as him.
- Correct: Devika is as honest as he.
Rule- 12: We must never use ‘not’ along with ‘until’ and ‘unless’.
- Incorrect: The workers will not leave the building until their demands are not met.
- Correct: The workers will not leave the building until their demands are met.
Rule- 13: Question tags are negative, if the sentence is positive and vice versa.
- Incorrect: She has returned to her family, has she?
- Correct: She has returned to her family, hasn’t she?
- Incorrect: You don’t respect me, don’t you?
- Correct: You don’t respect me, do you?
Rule- 14: The words hardly, barely, scarcely, and rarely carry the force of a negative. Therefore, the question tag used after them must be positive.
- Incorrect: It is barely worth the price, isn’t it?
- Correct: It is barely worth the price, is it?
- Incorrect: Their actions are hardly reasonable, aren’t they?
- Correct: Their actions are hardly reasonable, are they?
Rule- 15: Between is followed by ‘and’ and not ‘to’.
- Incorrect: He is expected to arrive between 7pm to 8pm.
- Correct: He is expected to arrive between 7pm and 8pm.
Rule-16: We should use fewer, not less, with plural nouns.
- Incorrect: They have got less burgers than they need.
- Correct: They have got fewer burgers than they need.
Rule-17: Lest mustn’t be used along with not. The only helping verb that can be used after lest is should.
- Incorrect: Think carefully lest you should not commit a mistake.
- Correct: Think carefully lest you should commit a mistake.
- Correct: Think carefully lest you commit a mistake.
Rule-18: No sooner should be followed by than, not when.
- Incorrect: No sooner had we started studying, when there was an interruption because of a power cut.
- Correct: No sooner had we started studying, than there was an interruption because of a power cut.
- Incorrect: No sooner had she graduated, when she got a reputed job.
- Correct: No sooner had she graduated, than she got a reputed job.
Rule-19: The verb following ‘both (of)’ construction is always positive and plural. ‘Both’ isn’t used in negative structures.
- Incorrect: Both of these options are not correct.
- Correct: Both of these options are wrong.
- Incorrect: Both of them are not aware of what happened yesterday.
- Correct: Both of them are unaware of what happened yesterday.
Rule-20: We must not use the article a/an after kind of, sort of, type of etc.
- Incorrect: What sort of an animal is that?
- Correct: What sort of animal is that?
- Incorrect: Shark is a type of a fish.
- Correct: Shark is a type of fish.
Having gone through the above rules must have given you some insight into the sentence error spotting questions asked in Staff Selection Commission’s CGL and CHSL Exams. Apart from being a Top SSC Coaching Institute that is known for its classroom coaching, Vidya Guru offers Online and Pen Drive Courses to students across the country. With a subscriber base of over 3 lakh students on Youtube, the Institute has become the first choice of students wanting to join the Best Online Coaching for SSC Preparation. Therefore, it is suggested that you also become a part of Vidya Guru Online community by subscribing to our Youtube channel.
This blog covers some crucial grammatical rules for Sentence Correction that will be useful to candidates preparing for various competitive exams. In case of any confusion or in order to seek help from our experts, write in to us at [email protected]