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
NOUNS & PRONOUNS
- 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 PERFECT — Had + past participle
- These are correct forms:
- Infinitives — to + the verb
- Split Infinitives are wrong
- e.g.: to + ___ + Verb …is wrong…nothing should come in between to and the verb.
MOOD & VOICE
- 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”.
- Look out for : none, each,….pronoun number errors.
- Verb agreement with subject w.r.t. number, tense, etc.
- Modifiers…recognise them.
- Possessive case –it’s not the subject!!
- Dangling Modifiers — modifiers which have no subject — wrong!!
- Almost always Modifiers come immediately after the word they modify!
- IF Vs WHETHER — If — hypothetical… whether — when you have to choose among options
- Maintain PARALLELISM — rather than, instead of, to X is to Y, etc.
- Look out for sentences starting with “to”…maintain parallelism
- BOTH — only two things!! and parallel too!!
Look out for COMPARISONS –> LIKE, UNLIKE, SIMILAR TO…compare same types (number, type, etc.)
- Look for countable and non-countable nouns. (amount, sum,etc.)
- THAT Vs WHICH …that is restrictive…which is non-restrictive.
- LIKE Vs AS … like expresses similarity … As compare clauses
- SUCH AS –> to give examples .. such X as x1, x2, x3.
- JUST AS –> again to compare actions, not nouns.
- BECAUSE Vs IN THAT … because shows cause and effect … in that is mostly correct on the gmat.
- USUAL Vs IS USUAL … usual… compared to itself… is usual…when compared to a sub-group it belongs to.
- NATIVE OF Vs NATIVE TO … Native of is used for a person…native to is correct for person/thing..everything else.
- CAN Vs COULD — can = ability, opportunity, possibility. could = assumption, condition, polite request, suggestion
- WOULD –> a condition in the past, anticipation in the past
- BECAUSE Vs ON ACCOUNT OF –> former is preferred over the latter. both are correct.
- ECONOMIC Vs ECONOMICAL –> Economic is economy related… economical is money-saving
- ‘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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