Tips & Techniques in English For competitive Exams – Common Errors in English
- Only I and my friend were at the concert.✗
Only my friend and I were at the concert.✓
(Pronouns order-I and me come last when more than one pronoun is used in a phrase,
you comes next to last, and third-person pronoun comes first)
- Everybody will get their share.✗
Everybody will get his share.✓
(Everybody sounds like ‘a lot of people’, but in grammar, everyone is
a singular norm and takes a singular verb).
- Most of the students found difficult to comprehend his speech.✗
Most of the students found it difficult to comprehend his speech.✓
- Don’t pride on your victory.✗
Don’t pride yourself on your victory.✓
(Without the reflexive pronoun yourself, it would be impossible for the reader to know who you pride on).
- The climate of India is hotter than France.✗
The climate of India is hotter than that of France.✓
(Here the comparison is between the climates of two countries (India and France) and not between the climate of India and the country of France).
- His room’s doors are locked.✗
The doors of his room are locked.✓
(Normally use ‘of the’ form, like ‘wheels ofthe car’, etc.)
- John absented from the office yesterday.✗
John absented himself from the office yesterday. ✓
- I have a good news for you.✗
I have good news for you.✓
(“News” is uncountable, which means that not only is it followed by a singular verb, but you also cannot say “a news.”
- The boys leave the school at four o’clock.✗
The boys leave school at four o’clock.✓
(Daily routine, not leaving for any specific purpose)
- They realized where their weak points were and how to get rid of them.✗
They realized where their weak points were and how they could get rid of them.✓
(A fragment with a Missing Subject; hence, an appropriate subject to form an independent clause included).
- While doing the work, there are obstacles ahead.✗
While doing the work, they met with obstacles.✓
(Needs to revise a dangling modifier by naming the appropriate doer of the action as the subject of the main clause)
- It is everybody’s duty to respect their motherland.✗
It is everybody’s duty to respect his motherland.✓
- He cannot set a foot in my house.✗
He cannot set foot in my house.✓
(The idiom is ‘set foot in’ and not ‘set a foot in’)
- Either of them are to go.✗
Either of them is to go.✓
(Technically, “either” is singular but informally and in conversation, you’ll hear “either of them are”).
- Andamans are a group of islands.✗
The Andamans are a group of islands.✓
(‘The’ is used with the places consisting many Islands; for example The Bahamas, The Philippines, The Maldives, The West Indies etc.)
- Police was unable to catch the thief.✗
Police were unable to catch the thief.✓
(The word “police” has no singular noun form. Other words that take no singular form include pants, trousers, scissors).
- Shiela pretended to not recognize the man in the market.✗
Shiela pretended not to recognize the man in the market.✓
- She neither speaks English nor French.✗
She speaks neither English nor French.✓
(Here neither modifies the verb ‘speak’ whereas it should modify the language English)
- Fire broke out in our neighbourhood.✗
A fire broke out in our neighbourhood.✓
(While fire, as a substance, is uncountable, but ‘a fire broke out’ gives a mental image of a single fire)
- His heart sank and could hardly stand.✗
His heart sank and he could hardly stand.✓
(A fragment with a Missing Subject; hence, an appropriate subject to form an independent clause included).
- All I know is my friend is right.✗
All I know is that my friend is right.✓
(Here the verb ‘is’ connected with reporting can be followed by a that-clause acting as the direct object)
- He has not yet gone to the bed.✗
He has not yet gone to bed.✓
(Go to bed means to lie down to sleep, to put oneself in one’s bed while go to the bed means not necessarily preparing for sleep).
- He made very wise decision.✗
He made a very wise decision.✓
- They had better to go now.✗
They had better go now.✓
(The verb form is always had, not have and is shorten to’d better in informal situations. It is followed by the infinitive without ‘to’).
- He succeeded to get the prize.✗
He succeeded in getting the prize.✓
(Gerund is used as nouns for objects of verbs and prepositions: Did she succeed in solving the problem?)
- No one can avoid to make mistakes.✗
No one can avoid making mistakes.✓
- Mother was busy to prepare dinner.✗
Mother was busy preparing dinner.✓
- Please tell him don’t come now.✗
Please tell him not to come now.✓
- We will tolerate no interference with our internal affairs.✗
We will tolerate no interference in our internal affairs.✓
(The noun ‘interference’ will take the preposition ‘in’: She was infuriated by his mother’s constant interference.)
- I saw him to play.✗
I saw him play.✓
There are two patterns of these sentences:
I saw him play = I saw him play throughout the game.
I saw him playing = I saw him on the field but I do not know whether he actually finished the action)
- Rita is incapable to complete the work on her own.✗
Rita is incapable of completing the work on her own.✓
(If someone is incapable of doing something, they are unable to do it. You do not say that someone is ‘incapable to do’ something).
- This park is belonged to every resident.✗
This park belongs to every resident.✓
(Belong is followed by to which means ‘to be bound to (a person, place, or club) by ties of affection, dependence, allegiance, or membership)
- The answer of this question is not so easy.✗
The answer to this question is not so easy.✓
(The answer to the question is the normal grammatical form like key to the problem).
- Water composes of hydrogen and oxygen.✗
Water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen.✓
(Be composed of something means to be formed from various things: Air is composed mainly of nitrogen and oxygen).
- Herman looks cheerfully.✗
Herman looks cheerful.✓
(Look- intransitive verb should be followed by an adjective ‘cheerful’ and not an adverb ‘cheerfully).
- What is the difference of these two places?✗
What is the difference between these two places? ✓
(When you make difference between two or more things, you use ‘between’: What’s the difference between an ape and a monkey?)
- I didn’t see him too.✗
I didn’t see him either.✓
(‘Either’ is used in negative sentences to add an agreeing thought: Tom doesn’t speak French. Sam doesn’t speak French either).
- The polar bear is not used to live in hot places.✗
The polar bear is not used to living in hot places.✓
(‘Be used to’ is followed by a noun (or pronoun) or the gerund – the ‘ing’ form of a verb: I can’t get used to getting up so early.)
- How much is the price of this watch?✗
How much is this watch? or How much does this watch cost?✓
- She sent a word that she would come late.✗
She sent word that she would come late.✓
(The word ‘word’ means news or a message: We got word of their plan from a former colleague).
- Nobody is bound to suffering.✗
Nobody is bound to suffer.✓
(Bound after verb + to infinitive means certain or extremely likely to happen: You’re bound to forget people’s names often).
- Have you read the Shakespeare’s Macbeth?✗
Have you read Shakespeare’s Macbeth?✓
- She rarely goes to theatre.✗
She rarely goes to the theatre.✓
(‘The’ the definite article is used because you’re talking about something ‘definite’).
- Adams invited me to a party.✗
The Adams invited me to a party.✓
(If you are referring some members of a family, you make it plural by adding ‘the’ in the beginning).
- Shiela felt sorry about the street children but she did not voice.✗
Shiela felt sorry about the street children but she did not voice it✓
(The sentence is incomplete without the objective case ‘it’).
- He was astonished by her sudden resignation.✗
He was astonished at her sudden resignation. ✓
(If you are .astonished by something, you are very surprised about it: I was astonished by his stupidity. Here contextual use is ‘at’.
- The judge has decided the case.✗
The judge has decided upon the case. ✓
(To make a judgement about some aspect of someone or something; (Upon is formal and less commonly used than on.)
- Do you want to try these new skates?✗
Do you want to try out these new skates?✓
(‘Try out’ means to undergo a competitive qualifying test; to test or use something experimentally).
- I enjoyed during the holidays.✗
I enjoyed myself during the holidays.
- Although he was ill, but he went to work as usual.✗
Although he was ill, he went to work as usual.✓
(When ’although’ as a subordinate conjunction to introduce a subordinate clause is used, there must be a main clause to complete the sentence).
- They may not realize that how important time is.✗
They may not realize how important time is.✓
(Coordinating conjunctions ‘that1 and ‘wh- question words do not come together).
- Tom’s project is more perfect than Sam’s.✗
Tom’s project is better than/ superior to Sam’s.✓
(There are words like square and not ‘more square’ or round and not ‘more round’ similarly, it is perfect or imperfect, unique or not unique etc.)
- This movie is the most unique of all.✗
This movie is unique.✓
- This bicycle cost me hundred dollars?✗
This bicycle cost me a hundred dollars?✓
(If you spell out dollars, it would be usual to also spell out a hundred or one hundred: You owe me a hundred dollars or you owe me $ 100).
- He has good knowledge of Botany.✗
He has a good knowledge of Botany.✓
- French are industrious and frugal.✗
The French are industrious and frugal.✓
(French means of, relating to, or characteristic of France or its people or culture; The French denotes peoples of the France (functioning as plural) the natives or inhabitants of France collectively).
- She likes to play the badminton.✗
She likes to play badminton.✓
- The blue is my favourite colour.✗
Blue is my favourite colour.✓
- The dogs are faithful animals.✗
Dogs are faithful animals.
(We only use ‘the’ with general plural nouns when we are referring to a specific set within a general class of people or things: Books are so important in my life. (= all books in general). The books were all over the floor. (= specific books (that you and I know).
- Sheila did not answer to his question.✗
Sheila did not answer his question.✓
(‘To answer to’ as a phrasal verb meaning ‘be accountable to’: if she doesn’t behave properly, she’ll have to answer to me. ‘I’ll answer your email’ means replying.
- I bought a story book to read it.✗
I bought a story book to read.✓
(An objective pronoun functions as the object of a verb or preposition, as distinguished from a subject or subjective pronoun, which is the subject of a verb).
- David has just been commissioned as the captain.✗
David has just been commissioned as captain.✓
- You are no exceptional.✗
You are no exception.✓
(Exceptional is an adjective: an exceptional student; exception is a noun: Men are usually quite good at mountaineering but Sam is the exception).
- He will be great help for you.✗
He will be of great help to you.✓
(‘Of great help to you’ is grammatical)
- Both of them did not win the election.✗
Neither of them won the election.✓
(Additive phrases (both, also, too, etc.) are not used when overall meaning of them is to negate).
- Each of these girls sing very well. ✗
Each of these girls sings very well.✓
(The subject of such sentences is each, which is a singular noun. The phrase ‘of these girls’ modifies each, but it doesn’t turn it into a plural noun. It just specifies a group which the subject is a part of).
- We all had not been invited.✗
None of us had been invited.✓
(In negative sentences we do not normally use ‘both’. Instead, we use neither. Similarly, don’t use ‘all’, use ‘none’. Consider none as singular when emphasis is on a single entity in a group, but consider none to be plural when you want to emphasize more than one: None of us is/are going to the banquet).
- One should love his country.✗
One should love one’s country.✓
(To avoid gender bias, use generic pronouns: “While one is reading, one should always wear his glasses.”
- ‘Have you got a house?’ No, I haven’t got.’✗
‘Have you got a house?’ No, I haven’t.’ / No, I don’t have one’.✓
(In US English: You have a pencil, don’t you? and in the UK: You’ve got a pencil, haven’t you?
- I said her to behave.✗
I told her to behave.✓
- He told that he would be visiting Father on weekend.✗
He said that he would be visiting Father on weekend.✓
(Use ‘tell’ with a personal object and ‘said’ when there is no personal object).
- Hardly the sun had risen when we set out.✗
Hardly had the sun risen when we set out. ✓
The sun had hardly risen when we set out.✓
(If hardly, scarcely, barely and no sooner are in the initial position, the subject and auxiliary are inverted: Hardly had we arrived home when the doorbell rang. = We had hardly arrived home when the doorbell rang.)
- Not only she speaks English but also Chinese.✗
She speaks not only English but also Chinese.✓
(For proper parallel structure, the verb following the subject must precede ‘not only1 so that it applies to both parallel phrases- English and Chinese).
- It is high time she improves her behaviour.✗
It is high time she improved her behaviour.✓
(After It’s time / It’s high time, use a past tense to refer to the present)
- Suppose, if she arrives late, you will miss the train.✗
Suppose she arrives late, you will miss the train.✓
(Use suppose, supposing and what if + present verb form to make suggestions about what might happen. Suppose and if do not come together).
- He did good in the exams.✗
He did well in the exams.✓
(Good is an adjective and a verb cannot be modified by an adjective. Well is an adverb and it goes after the verb or verb + object).
- She speaks French good.✗
She speaks French well.✓
(Good is an adjective and goes before a noun. An adjective cannot be used to modify a verb. ‘Well’ is an adverb and it usually goes after the verb or verb + object).
- This dress is inferior than that.✗
This dress is inferior to that.✓
- Sam is junior than Tom.✗
Sam is junior to Tom.✓
(The comparatives senior, junior, superior, inferior etc. are followed by to and not than: His first movie is superior to his latest. However, with other comparative adjectives, than is usually used in such constructions: His first movie is bigger than his latest).
- It was bitter cold that night.✗
It was bitterly cold that night.✓
(Cold is itself an adjective; hence, can be modified by an adverb ‘bitterly1 and not by an adjective i.e. ‘bitter’).
- She sang sweet.✗
She sang sweetly.✓
(Wrong us of adjective in place of adverb)
- I ever remember having met a more interesting man.✗
I never remember having met a more interesting man.✓
(Never means at no time before now, and is the same as not ever: (I have never visited Berlin; ‘ever’ is used in questions, negative questions and with ‘the first time’).
- The movie is too interesting.✗
The movie is very interesting.✓
(Too means ‘more than enough’; do not use in the sense of very or much)
- This hardly won liberty cannot be lightly abandoned.✗
This hard won liberty cannot be lightly abandoned.✓
(‘Hard-won is one-word adjective which means won with toil or difficulty; ‘hardly is an adverb meaning ’scarcely).
- She was much happy to see him.✗
She was very happy to see him. ✓
(Don’t use ‘much’ with positive adjectives: She is much intelligent (incorrect) say, she is very intelligent. Similarly, don’t use ‘very with comparative adjectives. Instead, use much, far, very much, a lot, lots, rather, a little, a bit etc.: a bit more sensible. (NOT very more sensible)
- No one writes as neat as Susan does.✗
No one writes as neatly as Susan does.✓
(Neat’ is an adjective which cannot modify a verb i.e. ‘write’; ‘neatly meaning ‘with neatness’ is an adverb which correctly modifies the verb’write’).
- The grandmother is living miserly.✗
The grandmother is living in a miserly way.✓
(Not all words ending in -ly are adverbs like miserly is an adjective)
- The receptionist sat on her. desk.✗
The receptionist sat at her desk.✓
(Use ‘sit’ at a table, but on a chair, on a bench, on a sofa, etc; in an arm¬chair, in a tree or up a tree. However, a bird sometime s perches (sits) on a tree).
- Sam took his younger sister with the hand.✗
Sam took his younger sister by the hand.✓
(Also hold by, catch by, seize by, snatch by, grasp by).
- Everybody must conform with the rules.✗
Everybody must conform to the rules. ✓
(‘Conform’ means ‘to comply with rules, standards, or laws’: conform to hygiene regulations; in some special usages ‘conform with’ is used: changes have to conform with international classifications).
- The Himalayas are covered by snow.✗
The Himalayas are covered with/in snow.✓
(“Covered by” usually means that the covering actually hides the thing that is covered (it maybe a sheet, a lid, a curtain): Covered by blankets).
- Gina was disappointed from her daughter.✗
Gina was disappointed with/in her daughter.✓
(Before a person we use with or in, before a thing we use at, about or by; however, before a gerund we use ‘at’: Sandra is very disappointed at not getting the job.
- Divide the apple in four parts.✗
Divide the apple into four parts.✓
(To or cause to separate into parts or groups: divide students into small discussion groups; Book divided into various chapters etc.)
- This is an exception of the rule.✗
This is an exception to the rule.✓
(When someone or something is not included in a rule, group, or list or that does not behave in the expected way: There are exceptions to every rule; however, we say: He liked all her qualities with the exception of nagging)
- Our class is composed from thirty students.✗
Our class is composed of thirty students.✓
(Composed of something means assembled or made out of something: The committee is composed of people from all walks of life).
- My leg is paining.✗
There’s/I’ve got a pain in my leg.✓
(Use pain as a noun, and precede it by have or feel).
- Susan is married with a rich man.✗
Susan is married to a rich man.✓
(Also use engaged to: Susan is engaged to a rich man)
- They behaved cowardly.✗
They behaved in a cowardly manner.✓
(Cowardly, silly and miserly are all adjectives which cannot modify verbs)
- The majority of students does not like the new principal. ✗
The majority of students do not like the new principal.✓
(The word ‘majority’ is used here for a collection of individuals; hence, it should be treated as plural)
- A 75% majority agree to the decision made by the principal.✗
A 75% majority agrees to the decision made by the principal.✓
(The word ‘majority is used here for a collective group, hence it should be treated as singular).