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!

GRAMMAR NOTES

SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT

  • 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

  • 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)

COMPARISONS

  • 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

VERB TENSE

  • 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.

MOOD & VOICE

  • 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”.

USEFUL POINTERS

  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.

Books I used for cracking Verbal…buy them now!

I recommend you getting the books right away. One good reason is motivation. New books help you stay motivated. I am not a big fan of xerox copies. They don’t smell good. The smell of a new book excites me and gives me another reason to start early with a zest. I get all my stuff from Amazon. (Yes it even ships books to India!) You get good deals and you can club your books to get in one shipment. Don’t think too much. I can vouch for the quality and effectiveness of the books I am recommending. Happy GMATing!!!

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