Golden rules for Spotting Errors – Part 5 prepared by SBI PO Focus Team
Golden rules for Spotting Errors – Part 5 prepared by SBI PO Focus Team
Based on Problems in Articles
Rule 52 As a general rule the indefinite article a or an is used with nouns in singular number only; the definite article the is used with any number.
Whenever, a singular noun begins with the sound of vowels (a, e,i, o and u) the indefinite article an is used and if the word begins with a consonantal sound the indefinite article a is used; as an industry, an office, an idea, an article but a book, a copy, a table, a cubboard, a cycle
If the word begins with a consonant sounding like a vowel, the indefinite article an is used.
an NR!, an heir However, if the word begins with a vowel sounding like a consonant, the indefinite article a is used; as a university, a European country
Rule 53 The indefinite article a or an is used before a singular noun which is countable as well as with a noun complement such as
A terrorist has been killed in an encounter.
A water pump is a must in houses in Rajasthan.
A cup of tea is refreshing after the day’s work.
Lala Lajpat Rai was a great freedom fighter.
Rule 54 An indefinite article a or an is necessary in expressions referring to numbers, speed, price and frequency such as
A kilogram of sugar
A dozen oranges
60 kilometre an hour
Three times a day
Rule 55 Sometimes the use of the indefinite article a before and after certain adjectives changes the very sense of the word with which it is used. For example, the use of a before the adjectives ‘few’, `little’, ‘slight’, etc. changes the very meaning expressed by these words. Few means nearly nothing but a few means some.
Note the following illustrations:
He has little time to spare. (means no time)
He has a little time to spare. (means sometime can be spared)
Few persons attended the lecture. (in negative sense means no person) A few persons attended the lecture. (indicates that at least some persons)
Rule 56 Nouns that are countable and singular usually take an article and nouns that are not countable do not take any article.
Water is essential for life. (Article not used)
The water in the jug is not clean. (Article the is used)
Gold is a precious metal. (Article not used)
The gold in this ring is of poor quality. (Article the is used)
Man is a social animal. (Article not used)
He is the man who cheated me. (Article the is used)
Apples are good for health. (Article not used)
The apples in our orchard are not yet ripe. (Article the is used)
Rule 57 The definite article the is used with things that are one of their kind. For example, the moon, the earth, the sky, the North Pole
the Prime Minister, the President
In other words, nouns that single out one individual or thing.
Rule 58 Definite article the is used before superlatives as also before only when it is used as an adjective.
This is the best book on the subject.
This is the only reason.
This is the biggest blunder you have made.
This is the only purpose of my visit.
Rule 59 The is used before names of periodicals and newspapers, names of important buildings, before names of rare or unique objects, names of rivers, oceans, bays, mountains, religious groups, communities, institutions etc.
I have read this news in the Tribune. (newspaper)
The earth revolves round the sun. (heavenly bodies)
The Taj Mahal is located at Agra in Uttar Pradesh. (important/ rare building)
The Ganges is the largest river in India. (river)
Similarly, the definite article the is used before the names of books (if they do not have the name of persons):
The Bible. The Autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi
The Two Faces of Indira Gandhi. The Kuran but Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Mahatma Gandhi’s Autobiography
Rule 60 The definite article the is used before words pointing out a class or kind of a thing. It is sometimes done by using it before an adjective to represent a whole class.
The crow is a clever bird. (means all the crows)
The young will have to shoulder the responsibility. (means all the young)
The brave deserve the recognition.
Rule 61 The is used before a proper, a material or an abstract noun when used as a common noun.
Shakespeare is the Kalidasa of English literature.
The gold of Argentina is now freely sold.
Problems In Tenses
Rule 62 Ensure that correct tense is used.
1. Simple present tense is used to convey general or universal truth and habitual sentences.
2. Present continuous tense is used to convey the continuity of the action.
3. Present perfect tense is used to convey the completion of an action that has some bearing on the present.
The earth revolves round the sun. (a universal truth)
I always brush my teeth after the meals. (habitual)
It has been raining for many hours. (an activity that has continued for quite some time)
Rule 63 The past tense in the principal clause must be followed by a past tense in the subordinate or dependent clauses.
I felt that she was a little worried. (not is)
I forgot that they were coming today. (not are)
I saw that the machine had stopped. (not has)
I found that he was guilty. (not is)
I thought that she was absent. (not is)
Exceptions: When a universal truth is expressed in the subordinate clause, its tense is not changed. He said that the earth revolves round the sun. (not revolved)
I told him that honesty is the best policy. (not was)
Newton knew that the earth rotates.
He forgot that the earth rotates.
When the subordinate clause begins with than or as, any tense may be used in the subordinate clause.
Even if there is past tense in the principal clause:
I met her more frequently than I meet you.
I saw her oftener than I see you.
She loved you more than she loves me.
He cared for you more than he cares for his brother.
Problems in Conjunctions
Conjunctions arc words used to join words, sentences and clauses together. Note the following conjunctions:
As soon … as
Both … and
Either … or
Neither … nor
Lest … should
Not only … but also
Hardly … before or when
Though … yet
Whether … or
Scarcely … when or before
Rule 64 When a negative co-relative is used in the beginning of a sentence, a helping verb must be used before the subject (e.g. do, does, did, etc.)
Scarcely did she hear the news when she began to cry.
Not only was he accused of theft, but also of murder.
No sooner did she heard the news than she wept.
No sooner did the doctor came than she died.
Also, note that no sooner is followed by than and not then or when:
No sooner did the news reach him than he fainted. (not when or then)
No sooner did she see me than she started grumbling. (not when or then)
Rule 65 Though … yet
When though is used with a verb in the subjunctive mood (expressing doubt, a condition contrary-to-fact, a wish, a concession) it is followed by yet and not by but;
Though he might not have recognised me. yet it is rude of him.
Though she disallowed me, yes I will go to her.
When though is used with a verb in an indicative mood (expressing a fact or making a statement) a comma is used in place of yet.
Though he is my relation. I shall not spare him.
Though he is known to me, I shall not favour hint
Rule 66 When, while, after, till, before: When these words are used in the subordinate clause with reference to some future event, they are not followed by a verb in the future tense.
Before the rain would stop, they would have reached home. (incorrect)
Before the rain stops, they would have reached home. (correct)
When you will come to me, we will go to Ludhiana. (incorrect)
When you come to me, we will go to Ludhiana. (correct)
Rule 67 Until/unless: Mistakes are generally committed in using these words. Until means time before and unless shows condition and means if not.
I cannot solve it unless you tell me its method.
Until she was informed officially, she had no idea about the plans
Rule 68 Doubt that/doubt whether: Doubt that is used in negative sentences and doubt whether in positive sentences;
I do not doubt that he will succeed.
I doubt whether the news is true.
I doubt whether our country is really free.
We do not doubt that he will be fully cured.
Rule 69 Need/Needs: As a regular verb, need means require. In the present tense, with third person singular, when followed by a negative, the final s is not added.
He need not worry. (negative not is followed)
He needs to be worried. (negative not is not followed)
However, regular forms should not be confused
He dare not do it again. (i.e. does not have courage)
She dare not come to me. (i.e. does not have courage to come to me)
However, if it is not followed by a negative word (not) or used in the sense of challenge, s is to be added. She dare not to disobey me.
She dares to disobey me. (a challenge)
She dares to insult me. (a challenge)
It should, however, not be confused when used as a normal verb:
I dare, he dares, she dares, they dare, we dare. Sunita dares
Rule 70 Since/from/for: Both since and from imply a point of time (definite time, day, date etc.) and for implies period of time.
- Since indicates point of time with present perfect or perfect continuous tense.
- From indicates point of time with all other tenses.
- For indicates period of time with present perfect or perfect continuous tense.
I have done nothing since yesterday. She has been ill since last Friday.
She will go to school from today.
He commenced work from 30th January. I have not seen him for a long time.
Rule 71 As long as/while/until: As long as and while are used to express the duration of an action, whereas until is used to express the time before an action takes place (see also Rule 65).
As long as you remain in the office, you will get no rest. (not until)
Wait here until I come. (not as long as)
While I am sitting here, you can work on it. (not as long as or until)
Rule 72 On/over: On suggests contact with something; over suggests a higher position without actual con-tact.
Keep this book on the table.
Place this cup on the table.
Keep the umbrella over your head.
Rule 73 You, he/she, I: When pronouns having different persons are used, the second person (you) should come first, then the third person (he or she) and last of all the first person (I).
You, he and I should try to visit Sri Lanka. (not I, you and he)
It is between you and me. (not me and you)
Rule 74 Who and whom: To determine correct usage of who or whom cover the beginning of the sentence, including who or whom and read what is left, inserting he or him. If he sounds right use who; if him sounds right use whom.
It was he whom we chose to be our captain.
(We chose him to be captain; so use whom)
It was he who we thought would win the prize.
(We thought he would win the prize; so use who)
Rule 75 Prepositions arc not required after such words as: attack, accompany, discuss, emphasize, fear, join, request, resist, pervade, precede, violate, reach, shirk, resemble, recommend, etc.
They attacked the enemy. (not on the enemy)
She resembles her mother. (not with or to her mother)
I have ordered the book. (not for the book)
One should not fear death. (not from death)
You can request him. (not request to)
Rule 76 Do not use that with words like how, whether, why, what, where, when, whom, whose, which, ctc. Nothing can be said that when he is expected to arrive. (incorrect)
Nothing can be said when he is expected to arrive. (correct)
He could not explain that why he was late. (incorrect)
He could not explain why he was late. (correct)
It is difficult to say that whether he will succeed. (incorrect)
It is difficult to say whether he will succeed. (correct)
In the above sentences that is not required. However, as to can be used. For example:
He could not explain as to why he was late.
Rule 77 Due to/caused by: Due to and caused by introduce adjective phrases and should modify nouns. These words must be properly related to some noun or pronoun and should not be used to begin a sentence.
Her success is due to her hard work. (modifies success)
His failure was caused by his laziness. (modifies failure)
These words should not be used to begin a sentence. For example: Due to workers’ strike, the factory remained closed. (incorrect) Because of the workers’ strike, the factory remained closed. (correct)
Rule 78 Because of/on account of/so that/in order that
Because of and on account of introduce adverbial phrases and should modify verbs. He resigned because of ill-health. (modifies resigned)
She resigned on account of ill-health. (modifies resigned)
To express a cause or reason use because of and to express purpose use in order that or so that.
Men work so that they may earn living. (not because)
He missed his class because he overslept. (not in order that/so that)
Do not use because and reason of together.
The reason why he missed his class was because he overslept. (incorrect) The reason why he missed his class was that he overslept. (correct)
Rule 79: Express parallel ideas in parallel form.
Adjectives should be paralleled by adjectives, nouns by nouns, subordinate clauses by subordinate clauses, etc. This generator is inexpensive, noiseless and it is easily operated. (incorrect)
This generator is inexpensive, noiseless and easily operated. (correct)
This course is challenging and an inspiration. (incorrect)
This course is challenging and inspiring. (correct)
Correlative conjunctions (either … or, neither … nor, not only … but also etc.) should be followed by elements in parallel form.
She is not only proficient in desk work but also in marketing. (incorrect)
She is proficient not only in desk work but also in marketing. (correct)
I have written both to their branch office and Head Office. (incorrect)
I have written to both their branch office and Head Office. (correct)
He would neither study at home nor would he go to school. (incorrect)
He would neither study at home nor go to school. (correct)
Rule 80 Redundancy refers to the use of more words than necessary to make a statement. Redundancy is moderate formality and is restricted almost completely to indicating an excess caused by tautology: redundant phrases like ‘essential requisite’ or ‘fundamental basis’. It may also mean use of unnecessary adjectives or words that needlessly make the sentence a sort of re-statement by using unwanted words. These type of errors are often seen in written English communication and are not desirable in grammatically correct sentences.
Notice below that the words in brackets contribute nothing to the meaning.
Avoid such wordiness or redundancy in your written communication:
(Important or basic) essentials
in (the city of) Ludhiana
as a (usual) rule
blue (in colour)
small (in size)
ten (in number)
1. The Prime Minister’s explanation represented a consensus of opinion.
Explanation:In this sentence the words ‘of opinion’ is not required and is an example of redundancy or wordiness.
2. Shanti said that she stayed for a short period of time in the hospital.
Explanation:In this sentence ‘of time’ is not needed because the ‘period’ signifies it.
3. Shri DK Oswal, our Chairman-cum-Managing Director has returned back from his European tour only this morning. In this sentence, one word is sufficient, either returned or back
Explanation:In this sentence, the usage ‘refer’ is sufficient and there is no need to add ‘back’ in this sentence.
4. He has been warned not to repeat this mistake again.
Explanation:In this sentence the word ‘again’ is redundant and should be avoided.
5. In today’s meeting I saw the whole scene with my own eyes and was surprised to see the discipline of the members.
Explanation: In this sentence, there is no need to add the words ‘with my own eyes’.
6. I saw a widow woman standing at the gate of our Church in the morning: she probably had some trouble.
Explanation:In this sentence ‘woman’ is not required.
7. I saw six different kinds of washing machines in the showroom.
Explanation:In this sentence, there is no need to add ‘different’ because the word ‘kinds’ implies the meaning.