Quick Reference

This section is not intended for first timers. If you haven’t done enough, you must go back to the individual topic discussion. This section provides a quick reference guide to the most common errors in SC. This has mostly come from my notes, which I made during my preparation. Enjoy!



  • Error of Proximity
  • Two subjects joined by ‘and’ – plural
  • If both point to the same thing (one thing) – singular
  • Parenthetical words joined to a singular subject – singular (e.g. ‘with’, ‘as well as’)
  • Two or more singular subjects connected by ‘or’, ‘nor’ – singular
  • When one of them is plural – plural (and nearer to it)
  • When subjects of different person joined by ‘or’. ‘nor’ – verb is of person nearer to it
  • Either, neither, each, everyone, many a – singular
  • Each X and every Y – singular
  • Pains, means – singular or plural (depends)
  • Nouns which are plural in meaning – plural (e.g. ‘dozen’ – needs a plural verb)
  • None – plural, but singular also in some cases
  • Collective noun – singular (but if individuals are thought of – plural; e.g. – the team is united. The jury are divided in their decision…because it no more is collective in a sense…)
  • Plural noun is a proper name – singular (e.g. Arabian Nights)
  • Plural noun denote some specific quantity or amount as a whole – singular (e.g. fifteen minutes is..)
  • When ‘each’ or ‘every’ follows a subject, it has no bearing on the verb form.


  • Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives or adverbs.
  • Thence = from there; Whence = from where (use of ‘from’ with these is wrong; from thence is wrong usage)
  • Only Adverb of Manner, Degree & Time admit of comparison
  • Order of Adverbs – Manner, place, time
  • Manner, place are placed after the verb (or object)
  • Frequency, Degree are normally placed between the subject & the verb (if the verb has more than one word, then placed after the first)
  • If the verb is :
    am/are/is/was –> after
    Before <– be (do) Before <– have to, used to
  • If adjective (adverb) — then before the adjective (adverb)
  • But ‘enough’ is always placed after
  • ‘Only’ is placed immediately after the word it modifies
  • ‘Ever’, ‘never’, ‘scarcely’ are often misplaced (e.g. scarcely anyone believes…right; no one scarcely believes…wrong)
  • Seldom or never…right
  • Seldom if ever…right
  • Seldom or ever…wrong
  • ‘Never’ for ‘not’ is wrong. (E.g. He was never born in India…wrong; He was not born in India…right)
  • too = more than enough
  • too != very/much
  • Of course != certainly, undoubtedly
  • Of course = natural or inevitable consequence


  • Uncountable nouns do not have plurals. Cannot be used with a/an. (e.g. advice, news, information, luggage, work, business, weather, traffic, scenery, paper, soap, bread, etc.)
  • Possessive Case –
    Living beings, personified objects, space or time (denoting an amount)
    Apposition – ‘s is added to the latter
    Two subjects – when different possession is implied, then both of them has ‘s
    When joint possession is implied, only the latter has ‘s
  • Pronoun after than/as – nominative form (e.g. taller than I) But if verb is missing then objective form can be used. (Taller than me…is also correct)
  • Anybody, everybody, everyone, anyone, each – singular. Gender is as per context
  • ‘One’ should be used throughout
  • ‘None’ – singular/plural – as per context
  • ‘Anyone’ – used only when there are more than two persons
  • Each, either, neither – singular
  • For relative pronouns – verb must agree with antecedent of the relative pronoun
    (e.g. – He is one of the cleverest boys that have passed this year. This is only one of the poems that is worth reading.)
  • Possessive case pronoun cannot be used as antecedent
  • Third person pronoun should not be used as antecedent to who/that
    (e.g. Mucool’s room is so messy that his mother calls him a pig. Him is wrong. Needs an antecedent and there is none. Mucool’s is possessive case. Him should be replaced by mucool)


  • LIKE Vs AS
    • Like — to compare people, things (nouns)
    • As — to compare clauses (any phrase that involves a verb)
  • SUCH AS = For Example
    • “such as” is NOT “like”
    • ‘such as’ cannot be substituted for ‘like’
  • Comparisons must be logically and structurally parallel.
    • Two things — comparative degree
    • More things — superlative degree
  • Different from — is correct
  • Different than — incorrect


  • PRESENT PERFECT — have/has + past participle
    • past——(continuing)—–>present
  • PAST PERFECT — Had + past participle
    • “To have” = “had”
  • These are correct forms:
    • has had
    • had had
  • Infinitives — to + the verb
  • Split Infinitives are wrong
    • e.g.: to + ___ + Verb …is wrong…nothing should come in between to and the verb.


  • IF…THEN…
    • If she wins…will give… (present)
    • If she won…would give…(past)
    • If she had won…would have given…(future)
  • COULD/WOULD never appear in the IF clause.
  • IF vs WHETHER –> Use whether not if, when you have to make a choice.
  • Subjunctive Mood
    • If I were…(contrary to reality)
    • Uncertainty –> Hopes, desires, proposals, requests
  • Formed using “That”…then plural form to be used for singular subjects.
    • e.g. It is urgent that she sign…not signs!!
    • that he be…infinitive form without “to”.


  1. Look out for : none, each,….pronoun number errors.
  2. Verb agreement with subject w.r.t. number, tense, etc.
  3. Modifiers…recognise them.
  4. Possessive case –it’s not the subject!!
  5. Dangling Modifiers — modifiers which have no subject — wrong!!
  6. Almost always Modifiers come immediately after the word they modify!
  7. IF Vs WHETHER — If — hypothetical… whether — when you have to choose among options
  8. Maintain PARALLELISM — rather than, instead of, to X is to Y, etc.
  9. Look out for sentences starting with “to”…maintain parallelism
  10. BOTH — only two things!! and parallel too!!

Look out for COMPARISONS –> LIKE, UNLIKE, SIMILAR TO…compare same types (number, type, etc.)

  1. Look for countable and non-countable nouns. (amount, sum,etc.)
  2. THAT Vs WHICH …that is restrictive…which is non-restrictive.
  3. LIKE Vs AS … like expresses similarity … As compare clauses
  4. SUCH AS –> to give examples .. such X as x1, x2, x3.
  5. JUST AS –> again to compare actions, not nouns.
  6. BECAUSE Vs IN THAT … because shows cause and effect … in that is mostly correct on the gmat.
  7. USUAL Vs IS USUAL … usual… compared to itself… is usual…when compared to a sub-group it belongs to.
  8. NATIVE OF Vs NATIVE TO … Native of is used for a person…native to is correct for person/thing..everything else.
  9. CAN Vs COULD — can = ability, opportunity, possibility. could = assumption, condition, polite request, suggestion
  10. WOULD –> a condition in the past, anticipation in the past
  11. BECAUSE Vs ON ACCOUNT OF –> former is preferred over the latter. both are correct.
  12. ECONOMIC Vs ECONOMICAL –> Economic is economy related… economical is money-saving
  13. ‘Declining revenues’ — > is plural !!

These pointers only tell you what should get the bells ringing. When you see any of these, you should know that okay I got to look for errors here. For the rest, see the detailed articles on each topic.

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