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I Concepts
1. Pronoun Errors
Pronoun reference Errors
E.g. Samantha and Jane went shopping, but she couldn’t find anything she
Error: The above she could refer to either Samantha or Jane. This is a pronoun
error of reference

E.g. The average moviegoer expects to see at least one scene of violence per
film, and they are seldom disappointed.
Error: Here they clearly refers to moviegoer, so obviously there is no reference
error but the number is wrong. The usage of he is instead of they are is
absolutely perfect.
Relative pronouns
• Animals and things had to be referred as that/which
• People had to be referred as who/whom
• They is not a proper noun, it can be used only as a pronoun.
Refer to Sec II. 2. Number

2. Misplaced Modifiers
If a sentence begins with a modifying phrase that is followed by a comma, make
sure the noun or pronoun right next to comma should be what the phrase is
referring to.
E.g. Coming out of the department store, John’s wallet was stolen.
Error: Was the wallet coming out of department store? No.

E.g. On leaving the department store, John’s wallet was stolen.

Error: Same error

E.g. Frail and weak, the heavy wagon could not be budged by the old horse.
Error: Is the heavy wagon frail and weak? No

E.g. An organization long devoted to cause of justice, the mayor awarded a

medal to American Civil Liberties union.
Error: Looks like mayor is the organization.
E.g. Although not quite as liquid investment as a money-market account,
financial experts recommend a certificate of deposit for its high yield.
Error: Misplaced phrase: financial experts

E.g. Before designing a park, the public must be considered.

Error: The public is not going to design the park. Before designing the park, the
architect must consider the public is -correct.
3. Subject Verb Agreement (Refer to Sec II.10 Subject Verb Agreement)
E.g. The number of arrests of drunken drivers are increasing every year
Error: Subject is singular whereas verb is plural. Subject verb agreement

The number of arrests of drunken drivers is increasing every year is

Note: Also while checking for subject/verb agreement, note that the subject
doesn’t always appear before the verb
E.g. Dominating the New York skyline is the Empire State Building and
the Chrysler Building - incorrect
Dominating the New York skyline are the Empire State Building
and the Chrysler Building - -correct

4. Idiomatic Errors (Refer to Sec. II.6 Common Idioms)

E.g. Many political insiders now believe that the dissension in congress over
health issues decreases the likelihood for significance action being taken
this year to combat the rising costs of health care.
Error: ‘Likelihood for’ is an unidiomatic expression ‘likelihood that’ is correct.
E.g. There is little doubt that large corporations are indebted for the small
companies that broke new ground in lased optics.
Error: Indebted for is incorrect. Indebted to is the correct usage.

Each idiom has its own usage. There is no particular rule as such.

5. Parallel Construction
There are two kinds of sentences that test the parallel construction. The first one is
a sentence that contains a list, or has a series of actions set off from one another
by commas.
E.g. …to ….to ….to …

The second kind is a sentence that’s divided into parts. All the parts must have
parallel types of verbiage
E.g. ate _____, slept ____, drank ____

Bad construction might look like:

…to ____, _____
…ate _____, sleep _____, drank ____.

I like to swim, to run, and to dance. – Correct

I like to swim, run, and dance. – Correct
I like to swim, run, and to dance. – Incorrect
I like to swim, to run, and dance. – Incorrect

6. Apples and Oranges

When the sentence compares two actions/items, things, can they really be
E.g. The people in my office are smarter than other offices
Error: The sentence compares people to other offices, literally. This is
wrong. Two dissimilar things cannot be compared.

Usually, the problem is with hidden comparison where two things or actions are
compared, but another two items or actions are intertwined and you lose the
comparison relationship.
E.g. Synthetic oils burn less efficiently than natural oils.
Error: In this case, what needs to be compared is how well each oils burn,
and not the oils themselves. Synthetic oils burn less efficiently than
natural oils burn (or) Synthetic oils burn less efficiently than do
natural oils is correct

7. Critical Reasoning
Critical reasoning passages normally are of the following formats
1. Premise (evidence), premise, premise, conclusion
2. Conclusion, premise, premise, premise
The conclusion can either be stated at the beginning or at the end. More
importantly, do not infer too much, just stick as close to the passage as possible.
Therefore, thus, so, hence, implies, indicates, etc are a few flag-posts that signal a

Assumption questions
E.g. Which of the following is an assumption on which the argument
• Assumptions are never stated in the passage
• Assumptions support the conclusion of the passage
• Assumptions frequently work to fill in the gaps in the reasoning of
the argument
• Look to see if the assumption is causal, analogical or statistical.
• If a cause is being suggested for an effect, ask your self if the cause
is truly the reason for the effect, or if there might be an alternate
• Argument based on analogy, compares one situation to another,
ignoring the question of whether the two situations are comparable
• If the assumption uses statistics, ask yourself if the statistics
involved are representative
Strengthen the argument questions
• The statements are never stated directly in the passage
• Information will support the conclusion of passage.
• Similar logics for causal, analogies and statistics can be used as in
• The easiest way to strengthen a passage is to strengthen the
conclusion and(or) the assumptions.
Weaken the argument questions
• The above-mentioned techniques can be used in a similar way,
except that it should weaken the conclusion
Inference questions
• Not directly stated in the passage
• Inferences have got little to do with the conclusion
Mimic-the-reasoning questions
If A occurs then B occurs is true
then it is necessarily true that if B does not occur then A does not occur
and not necessary that if B occurs then A occurs
If Necessarily True Non necessarily true
A(B ~B(~A B(A
A(~B B(~A ~B(A
~A(B ~B(A B(~A

~A(~B ; B(A ~B(~A


II Usage
1. Some vs. Any
Some is used in affirmative sentences
Any is used in negative and interrogative sentences.
E.g. I shall buy some mangoes.
I shall not by any mangoes.
Have you bought any mangoes?
Some can actually be used in sentences that are requests or strong commands
E.g. Will you please lend me some money?
Lend me some money.
2. Number (Refer to Sec I. 1. Number)
A few nouns have their singular and plural forms alike
E.g. Swine, sheep, deer, cod, trout, salmon, pair, dozen, score, gross, hundred,
thousand (when used after numerals)
• The number, the amount, measles, politics, audience, someone, somebody,
something, everyone, everybody, everything, either, neither, one, each, anyone,
anybody, anything, no one, nothing, nobody, whoever, whosoever, whomever are
• Group, jury, team, country, family are singulars.
• The term ‘Society’ can be used as a plural as well
• Both, many, their, several, few, others are plurals
• Some, more, most, all take number based on the usage, especially on the noun
they refer to.
• When two nouns are in the sentence doing an action together but they are linked
with Along with, Together with, With, As well as, together with, besides, In
addition to, Accompanied by, deploy singular verbs
E.g. Janie, with her poodle limping behind her, walks to the dog park.
Janie is singular. The poodle is singular. They both do the action together,
but the use of “with” means that we need to keep the verb singular.
“Walks” is singular and “Walk” is plural.
E.g. I, along with my dog, am going to go for shopping - correct
I and my dog, are going to go for shopping - correct
E.g. Catherine, along with her husband jog everyday - incorrect
Catherine, along with her husband jogs every day. - correct
Catherine and her husband jog every day - correct
E.g. George Bernard Shaw, as well as Mahatma Gandhi and River Phoenix,
were vegetarians. - incorrect
George Bernard Shaw, as well as Mahatma Gandhi and River Phoenix,
was a vegetarian. - correct

• A verb that ends with an ‘s’ is mostly singular

3. Spoonfuls or Spoonsful?
The correct plural forms of spoonful and handful are spoonfuls and handfuls
respectively and not spoonsful and handsful.

4. Not only… but also…

E.g.: The administration of a small daily dose of aspirin has not only been
shown to lower the risk of heart attack, and it has also been shown to help
relieve the suffering of arthritis.
Error: Not only should be followed by but also

5. Tense
Simple Continuous Perfect Perfect Continuous
Past Active I loved I was loving I had loved I had been loving
Past Passive I was loved I was being I had been
loved loved
Present Active I love I am loving I have I have been loving
Present I am loved I am being I have been
Passive loved loved
Future Active I shall love I shall be I shall have I shall have been
loving loved loving
Future Passive I shall be loved I shall have
- -
been loved

Singular Plural
Simple tenses
Indicate that an action is present, past or future relative to the speaker or writer.
1st person I walk/draw we walk/draw
2nd person you walk/draw you walk/draw
3rd person he/she/it they walk/draw
1st person I walked/drew we walked/drew
2nd person you walked/drew you walked/drew
3rd person he/she/it they walked/drew
1st person I will walk/draw we will walk/draw
2nd person you will walk/draw you will walk/draw
3rd person he/she/it will they will walk/draw
Perfect tenses
Indicate that an action was or will be completed before another time or action.
Present perfect
1st person I have walked/drawn we have walked/drawn

2nd person you have walked/drawn you have walked/drawn

3rd person he/she/it has they have walked/drawn
Past perfect
1st person I had walked/drawn we had walked/drawn
2nd person you had walked/drawn you had walked/drawn
3rd person he/she/it had they had walked/drawn
Future perfect
1st person I will have walked/drawn we will have walked/drawn
2nd person you will have walked/drawn you will have walked/drawn
3rd person he/she/it will have they will have walked/drawn
Progressive tenses
Indicate continuing action.
Present progressive
1st person I am walking/drawing we are walking/drawing
2nd person you are walking/drawing you are walking/drawing
3rd person he/she/it is they are walking/drawing
Past progressive
1st person I was walking/drawing we were walking/drawing
2nd person you were walking/drawing you were walking/drawing
3rd person he/she/it was they were walking/drawing
Future progressive
1st person I will be walking/drawing we will be walking/drawing
2nd person you will be walking/drawing you will be walking/drawing
3rd person he/she/it will be they will be walking/drawing
Present perfect progressive
I have been we have been
1st person
walking/drawing walking/drawing

you have been you have been

2nd person
walking/drawing walking/drawing
3rd person he/she/it has been they have been
walking/drawing walking/drawing
Past perfect progressive
I had been we had been
1st person
walking/drawing walking/drawing
you had been you had been
2nd person
walking/drawing walking/drawing
3rd person he/she/it had been they had been
walking/drawing walking/drawing
Future perfect progressive
I will have been we will have been
1st person
walking/drawing walking/drawing
you will have been you will have been
2nd person
walking/drawing walking/drawing
3rd person he/she/it will have been they will have been
walking/drawing walking/drawing

6. Common Idioms (Refer to Sec. I.4 Common Idioms)

Not only…but also… so...as to be ... contribute to a dispute over think of... as
not so much.. as.. so(adjective) that... depend on a responsibility to see...as
defined as depicted as different from responsible for targeted at…
regard as define as due to different from prohibit from
neither… nor… as great as in order to a consequence of to result in
modelled after as good as instead of agree with a debate over
a result of better than rather than appear to
conclude that attributed to worry about because of
distinguish between either... or... credited with choose from
distinguish...from based on according to subject to

a debate over Associate X with Y Concerned for - worried;

a lot assume ...to be of... concerned with - related/affiliated
a responsibility to At least as strong as(At least as conform to
a result of great as) Consider X to be Y (a little
a sequence of Attempt to ‘do something’ controversial)
acclaimed as is the correct (Attempt at doing is incorrect). contrary to...
idiom (Acclaimed to be is attend to (someone) created with
wrong) attribute X to Y/X is attributed to Credit X Rupees to Y’s account
accompanied by.... Y (When money is involved)
adapted for based on Credit X with discovering Y
Adverb twice cannot be an believe X to be Y (Credit with doing something)
object of proposition ‘by’. Believed to have decline in....
‘Increase by twice’ is incorrect; benefit from... defined as
‘doubled’ is correct better served by X than Y .. pends on whether
affect to.. between X and Y depicted as
agree with Both X and Y (Both X as well as Y Descendent of (Descendent for is
Aid in (Aid for is incorrect) is incorrect) Both at X and at Y is incorrect)
Allergy to (Allergy of, allergy correct. Both on X or on Y is Different from one another
for are incorrect) correct. (Different one from the other is
Allocated to is the correct idiom Business ethics - Is a singular word wrong)
alternative to.... call...to consider... Distinguish between X and Y (2
as a result of... centers on very different items, distinguished,
as an instance of Combined X with Y OR Combined say red and green colors)
as good as...or better than X and Y (Both are correct) Distinguish between X and Y
as great as Compensate for (Distinguish X from Y is incorrect)
as much as expected X to be Y ... Distinguish X from Y (Two pretty
extent to ... similar items, say original
more than ever fascinated by paintings from fake ones)
more X than Y ... for jobs.. doubt that
more...than / less...than for over...XXX years... either...or
more...than ever... forbid X to do Y identical with enable to
must have (done) forcing ...to... entrusted with...
Native of (Native to is also used From X to Y (Grow from 2 million expected that X would be Y ...
in some cases) to 3 billion) (From X up to Y is
Neither - Nor should have wrong)
parallel forms associated to it. Given credit for being ones - who
no less....than had better(do)
No sooner than In an attempt to (gain control)
Not in a flash but in a in contrast to
not only...but also independent from
Not so much to X as to Y indifferent towards
not X ...but rather Y .. Intent on
noted that .. interaction of ...

one attributes X (an effect) to Y Just as - So too

(a cause) May be (This is a word) is
One X for every ZZ( some idiomatic, maybe (This means
numeric number) Y's ... perhaps) is not idiomatic
Persuaded X to do Y Mistake X for Y
Plead guilty for failing modeled after
Potential for causing Estimated to be (Estimated at is
potential to incorrect)

7. Comparison between two things VS more than two things

E.g. On the flight to Los Angeles, Nancy had to choose among two dinner
Error: If there were more than two things being compared, use of among is
correct. For comparing two things, between is appropriate.
To compare two things
To compare more than two things

8. Countable nouns Vs Non-countable nouns

Could I have fewer soup, please? - Wrong
Could I have less soup, please? - Correct
Could I have less French fries, please? - Wrong
Could I have fewer French fries, please? - Correct
If an item can be counted, the correct adjective is fewer and if it cannot be
counted, then the correct adjective is less.

Number and many are similar to fewer - countable

Amount, quantity and much are similar to less - non countable

Most of the people is/are...? Most of the water is/are...?

Rule: Quantifier + of + NOUN + verb
Most of the people are...; "Most" becomes a count noun because "people"
is a count noun. Most of the water is... "Most" becomes a non-count noun
because "water" is a non-count noun. So, this rule tells us only whether the
quantifier is count or non-count. To figure out whether the quantifier is
singular or plural, we need to check one more thing… Sometimes, a
quantifier refers only to one thing, not many things. For example, each,
every, and one always refer to one thing, but 10%, half, all, and most
would refer to more than one thing if the object of the preposition is count
(with one possible exception that follows below). Of course, if the
quantifier is always singular, then the verb must always be singular, too.

1% of the 100 people is… incorrect

1% of the 100 people are... -correct - 1%,10%, etc are always
plurals, they refer to one object though.

Note the difference

The number of people has increased
A number of people have gone

However, the following are correct.

It's less than twenty miles to Dallas.
He's less than six feet tall.
Your essay should be a thousand words or less.
We spent less than forty dollars on our trip.
The town spent less than four percent of its budget on snow removal.

The can be used with non-count nouns, or the article can be omitted entirely.
E.g. I love to sail over the water - correct
(some specific body of water);
I love to sail over water (any water) - correct
E.g. "He spilled the milk all over the floor" (some specific milk,
perhaps the milk you bought earlier that day) or "He spilled milk
all over the floor" (any milk) - correct
A or an can be used only with count nouns.
E.g. I need a bottle of water
E.g. I need a new glass of milk
You can't say, "She wants a water" unless you're implying, say, a bottle of water.

9. Quick Tip
Of many decisions facing the energy commission as it meets to decide on new
directions for the next century, the question of the future of nuclear energy is for
certain the more perplexing.

‘is certainly the most perplexing’ is more appropriate

10. Subject Verb Agreement (Refer to Sec I. 3 Subject Verb Agreement)

Most of the people is/are.. – ‘are’ is the correct option as most qualifies people as
plural; Most of the water is/are… – ‘is’ is the correct option, as water cannot be
counted. One of the people is… ; Each of the students is… ; 1% of the 100 people
are… – No error

The teacher together with the student is/are… - ‘is’ is the correct option. “together
with” is not a conjunction and therefore cannot take a plural subject.
The teacher and the student is/are … - ‘are’ is the correct option

"a number of ..." always takes plural verbs.

"the number of ..." always takes singular verbs.
E.g. The number of people has increased
A number of people have left home

With singular or non-count nouns or clauses, use a singular verb

E.g. One third of this article is taken up with statistical analysis.
All of the book seems relevant to this study. (entire book is better)
Half of what he writes is undocumented.
About fifty percent of the job is routine.
All the information is current.

With plural nouns and count-nouns use plural verbs

E.g. One third of the students have graduate degrees.
Fifty percent of the computers have CD-ROM drives.
Many researchers depend on grants from industry.

With collective nouns, use either singular or plural, depending on whether you
want to emphasize the single group or its individual members.
E.g. Half of my family lives/live in Canada.
All of the class is/are here.
Ten percent of the population is/are bilingual.

Tips on subject verb agreement:

a) The indefinite pronouns anyone, everyone, someone, no one, nobody
are always singular and, therefore, require singular verbs.
E.g. Everyone has done his or her homework.
Somebody has left her purse.
Some indefinite pronouns — such as all, some — are singular or plural
depending on what they're referring to. (Is the thing referred to
countable or not?) Be careful choosing a verb to accompany such
E.g. Some of the beads are missing.
Some of the water is gone.
None can either take singular or plural, depending on the usage
E.g. None of you claims responsibility for this incident?
None of you claim responsibility for this incident?
None of the students have done their homework.
b) Some indefinite pronouns are particularly troublesome Everyone and
everybody (listed above, also) certainly feel like more than one person
and, therefore, students are sometimes tempted to use a plural verb
with them. They are always singular, though. Each is often followed
by a prepositional phrase ending in a plural word (Each of the cars),
thus confusing the verb choice. Each, too, is always singular and
requires a singular verb.
E.g. Everyone has finished his or her homework.
c) You would always say, "Everybody is here." This means that the word
is singular and nothing will change that.
E.g. Each of the students is responsible for doing his or her
work in the library. - Don't let the word "students" confuse
you; the subject is each and each is always singular —
Each is responsible.
d) Phrases such as together with, as well as, and along with are not the
same as and. The phrase introduced by as well as or along with will
modify the earlier word (mayor in this case), but it does not compound
the subjects (as the word and would do).
E.g. The mayor as well as his brothers is going to prison.
The mayor and his brothers are going to jail.

e) The pronouns neither and either are singular and require singular verbs
even though they seem to be referring, in a sense, to two things.
E.g. Neither of the two traffic lights is working.
Which shirt do you want for Christmas?
Either is fine with me.

In informal writing, neither and either sometimes take a plural verb

when these pronouns are followed by a prepositional phrase beginning
with of. This is particularly true of interrogative constructions: "Have
either of you two clowns read the assignment?" "Are either of you
taking this seriously?" Burchfield calls this "a clash between notional
and actual agreement."

f) The conjunction or does not conjoin (as and does): when nor or or is
used the subject closer to the verb determines the number of the verb.
Whether the subject comes before or after the verb doesn't matter; the
proximity determines the number.

E.g. Either my father or my brothers are going to sell the house.

Neither my brothers nor my father is going to sell the
house. Are either my brothers or my father responsible? Is
either my father or my brothers responsible?

Because a sentence like "Neither my brothers nor my father is going to

sell the house" sounds peculiar, it is probably a good idea to put the
plural subject closer to the verb whenever that is possible.

E.g. There are two reasons [plural subject] for this. There is no
reason for this. Here are two apples.

With these constructions (called expletive constructions), the subject

follows the verb but still determines the number of the verb.
g) The words there and here are never subjects.
E.g. There are two reasons [plural subject] for this.
There is no reason for this.
Here are two apples
h) Words such as glasses, pants, pliers, and scissors are regarded as plural
(and require plural verbs) unless they're preceded the phrase pair of (in
which case the word pair becomes the subject).
E.g. My glasses were on the bed.
My pants were torn.
A pair of plaid trousers is in the closet.

i) Fractional expressions such as half of, a part of, a percentage of, a

majority of are sometimes singular and sometimes plural, depending
on the meaning. (The same is true, of course, when all, any, more,
most and some act as subjects.) Sums and products of mathematical
processes are expressed as singular and require singular verbs. The
expression "more than one" (oddly enough) takes a singular verb:
"More than one student has tried this."

E.g. Some of the voters are still angry. A large percentage of the
older population is voting against her. Two-fifths of the
troops were lost in the battle. Two-fifths of the vineyard
was destroyed by fire. Forty percent of the students are in
favour of changing the policy. Forty percent of the student
body is in favour of changing the policy. Two and two is
four. Four times four divided by two is eight.
j) If your sentence compounds a positive and a negative subject and one
is plural, the other singular, the verb should agree with the positive
E.g. The department members but not the chair have decided
not to teach on Valentine's Day. It is not the faculty
members but the president who decides this issue. It was
the speaker, not his ideas, that has provoked the students to
11. Quick Tip
‘Ethics’ is normally used as a plural.
“My work ethic” – singular usage

12. Usage of May, Ought, Should, Can

May is usually appropriate to sentences either asking for or granting permission.
As in "May I come in?" (instead of the more oft-used Can I come in?)
Answer would be, "Yes, you may"

Ought is more comfortable with words that concern themselves with what is right
or correct or even, what should be.
E.g. I think you ought to get all those questions on modals right.
Always note, ought is mostly always used with to

Should is slightly more ambiguous. It's slightly more informal and the connotation
would be its use as either certainty, permission to a person on the same level as
you are or again, to signify something you are expected to do.

E.g. Ethics dictate that you should pay damages for the losses he has

Can is usually used to signify ability. The past tense of can, could is also used to
signify probability
E.g. I think I can win the race.

"Should I be concerned about VA and RC?" is correct usage.

"Ought I be concerned about VA and RC?" simply doesn't sound right!

13. Advice Vs Advise

Advice is a noun and advise is a verb

14. Quick Question

Q: The Company fired no less than fifty employees.
Error: Countable nouns do not go with less. Instead use fewer.
The company fired no fewer than fifty employees.

15. Among Vs Between

Use between only when we need to choose from only two options. For more than
two, use among.

E.g.: Between the red car and blue car, …

Among the five correct answers, …
Among the many books, …
16. Whether Vs If
Use whether where only two options are discussed and use if for more than two.

E.g. Whether to buy a chocolate or strawberry ice cream…

If she should get ice cream, frozen yogurt, or a cookie

Incorrect: Her client didn’t tell her if he had sent his payment yet.
Correct: Her client didn’t tell her whether he had sent his payment yet

17. Compared to Vs Compared with

To show comparison between unlike things, compare to is used. To show
comparison between like things, compare with is used. Compare to is used to
stress the resemblance. Compare with can be used to show either similarity or
difference but is usually used to stress the difference.

E.g. He compared her to a summer day.

Scientists compared the human brain to a computer. (Unlike thing)
The police compared the forged signature with the original. (Like things)

18. Each
The traditional rule still holds true i.e. "the subject of a sentence beginning with
each is grammatically singular". But there is another rule, which says that when
each follows a plural subject, the verb and subsequent pronouns remain in the
plural form.

E.g. The apartments each have their own private entrances

Three cats each eat ...
Three cats, each of which eats ...,
Each of the three cats eats…

19. Which/It
E.g. Get me the book, which is mine.

Which is used to qualify the book i.e., which is mine. There may be many books in
the room, but I want my book. Which should always refer to a noun. In the above
sentence, which refers to the book. Which must replace a noun, not a sentence or

Similarly, It is used to replace a noun and so is used to replace a verb in a


20. Quick Tip

Correct: He is faster than usual today
Incorrect: A Mercedes is more expensive than usual for a car
Correct: A Mercedes is more expensive than is usual for a car

21. Who else but he/him?

Incorrect: Whom were you expecting? Who else but him
Correct: Whom were you expecting? Who else but he
Who else but he/she/I/they/we...
Simply because of the following reason; If the question is ‘Who
was coming?’ ‘He was coming’ would be the answer. Not ‘him
was coming’

Your husband doesn't believe that you are older than (me,I)
Correct option would be ‘I’. Your husband doesn’t believe that you are older than
I (am)

22. Each Vs Every

What is the difference between "each & every" as the two are depicting the same
meaning? Using either 'each' or 'every' would mean we are talking about a set of
particular items belonging to a group. Now, 'each' would emphasise on the items
as individuals and 'every' would also emphasise on the items, but not in such an
individualistic sense

23. Quick Tip

Schliemann determined at the age of seven to find the site of ancient Troy and
devoted his subsequent career to do it - incorrect
It/which can replace only a noun and not a sentence as given above

24. As much as Vs Much as

As much as indicates equality whereas, much as indicates “though”
E.g. Much as we might dislike the aggressive and obsessive nature of …

25. Words Commonly Misused

Clichés means formulas (plural)
Cliché means formula (singular)

Embarrass is to humiliate, make uncomfortable, etc

Embrace is to hold/hug/hold in arms, etc
26. Quick Tip
E.g. I ended on a small farm that kept cows.
Error: ended up is the correct usage; I ended up on a small farm that kept cows

E.g. As none of the parents had caught up, each girl was sent to different farm
for the day and returned at night
Error: to a different farm is correct; As none of the parents had caught up, each
girl was sent to a different farm for the day and returned at night

E.g. The No.4 reactor had surged abruptly to 100 times full power and blew up.
Error: had…blew…is incorrect, use had blown – similar to had ran being wrong
and had run being correct; The No.4 reactor had surged abruptly to 100
times its full power and blown up

E.g. A team of detectives was working to track a brutal criminal.

Error: track down is the correct usage; A team of detectives was working on to
track down a brutal criminal.

27. Raise Vs Rise

Raise is a verb and Rise is a noun

28. That Vs Because

That is a conjunction of consequence whereas because is a conjunction of reason.
Note: To say “the reason is because…” is considered ungrammatical, instead use
“the reason is that…”
E.g. The reason many high schools use metal detectors is that some children
bring weapons to school (or) many high schools use metal detectors
because some children bring weapons to school.
Comparing that and which, that is more specific.... which is used while
mentioning in general
29. Quick Tip
E.g. Neither the runner-up nor her sponsors are prepared to question the
decision, mainly because they know the…
Error: <no error> Are is a correct usage in the above sentence. The noun that is
nearer to the verb are is a plural, we need to modify the verb to plural

Students give the exam incorrect

Students take the exam correct
Teachers take the exam incorrect
Teachers give the exam correct
To become bald incorrect
To go bald correct
Associated to … incorrect

Associated with … correct


30. Universal truth

A universal truth always takes a verb in present tense.
E.g. Galileo said, “Earth revolved round the sun” – incorrect
Galileo said, “Earth revolved round the sun” – correct
31. Not…but… Vs Rather than
Pucci is not a dog but a cat correct
Pucci is a dog rather than a cat incorrect
I want a dog rather than a cat correct; as it expresses a preference

32. Childish Vs Childlike

Childish implies silly whereas childlike implies innocent.
E.g. I don't like his childish behaviour.
Gandhiji always put on childlike smile on his lips.

33. Double possessiveness

Do we say "a friend of my uncle" or "a friend of my uncle's"? In spite of the fact
that "a friend of my uncle's" seems to overwork the notion of possessiveness, that
is usually what we say and write. The double possessive construction is
sometimes called the "post-genitive" or "of followed by a possessive case or an
absolute possessive pronoun" (from the Oxford English Dictionary, which likes to
show off). The double possessive has been around since the fifteenth century, and
is widely accepted. It's extremely helpful, for instance, in distinguishing between
"a picture of my father" (in which we see the old man) and "a picture of my
father's" (which he owns). Native speakers will note how much more natural it is
to say "He's a fan of hers" than "he's a fan of her."

Generally, what follows the "of" in a double possessive will be definite and
human, not otherwise, so we would say "a friend of my uncle's" but not "a friend
of the museum's [museum, instead]." What precedes the "of" is usually indefinite
(a friend, not the best friend), unless it's preceded by the demonstratives this or
that, as in "this friend of my father's."

Ref: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/possessives.htm

34. Due to
Due to can be used only as a replacement of caused by and certainly not because
The game was postponed due to rain incorrect
The game was postponed because of rain correct
The game’s postponement was due to(caused by) rain correct

35. So as
so <adjective> as <verb>
So as cannot be together.
He exercises everyday so as to build his stamina. incorrect
He exercises everyday in an effort to build his stamina correct
Her debts are extreme so as to threaten the future of the company incorrect
Her debts are so extreme as to threaten the future of the company correct

36. Like Vs As
Like is used to compare people/nouns/things
E.g. Jack and Jill, like Humpty Dumpty, are extremely stupid

As is used to compare clauses. A clause is any phrase that includes a verb.

E.g. Just as jogging is a good exercise, swimming is a great one too.

Strictly speaking, the word like is a preposition, not a conjunction. It can,

therefore, be used to introduce a prepositional phrase ("My brother is tall like my
father"), but it should not be used to introduce a clause ("My brother can't play the
piano like as he did before the accident" or "It looks like as if basketball is quickly
overtaking baseball as America's national sport."). To introduce a clause, it's a
good idea to use as, as though, or as if, instead.

• Like As I told you earlier, the lecture has been postponed.

• It looks like as if it's going to snow this afternoon.
• Johnson kept looking out the window like as though he had someone
waiting for him.

In formal, academic text, it's a good idea to reserve the use of like for situations in
which similarities are being pointed out:

• This community college is like a two-year liberal arts college.

However, when you are listing things that have similarities, such as is more
E.g. The college has several highly regarded neighbors, like such as the
Mark Twain House, St. Francis Hospital, the Connecticut
Historical Society, and the UConn Law School

Like cannot be used to cite examples. In such usages, such as should be used
Deductions from certain items like interest may be made - incorrect
Deductions from certain items such as interest may - correct
be made

37. Each other Vs One another

When two persons are involved, use each other. Where more than two persons are
involved, use one another.
E.g. Ross and Rachel love each other
The three brothers love one another

38. As long as… Vs So long as…

As long as deals with physical comparison, like time, length, etc.

So long as deals with conditions. (Provided that…)

E.g. The baseball bat was as long as the club.
So long as you maintain your cool, the meeting should be fine.

39. Will Vs Would

Will – used for future/certainty
Would – used for wish/possibility

40. Quick Tip

E.g. If the temperature drops below zero degrees Celsius, water can freeze.
Error: It’s not correct to use can after if (in the context of what we have been
talking about); If the temperature drops below zero degrees Celsius, water
will freeze

E.g. I f all of the three major networks broadcast the same statement, television
can be superficial.
Error: can be should be replaced with will be

41. Concerned for Vs Concerned with

Concerned for – worried or anxious
Concerned with – related to
E.g. He’s concerned for investor relations incorrect
He’s concerned with investor relations correct

42. Skill – countable or non countable?

Skill can be a count noun as well as a non count noun. It all depends on the
Harry knows a few driving skills Countable
How much skill do you have in driving a car, Harry? Non-countable

43. Avail oneself

Avail normally is followed by myself, himself, them, etc.
So I decided to avail of the opportunity incorrect
So I decided to avail myself the opportunity correct

44. Usage of years

E.g. There is, at last, an answer to the question, which has been fogging the
governments at the centre and states since the 1990’s
Error: 1990’s; instead use 1990s
E.g. During the first half of 20th century…
Error: the 20th century… <Definite article required>

45. In an effort
In an effort <to do something> is correct whereas in an effort <at doing
something> is wrong.

46. Proper nouns and the definite article

Proper nouns that name geographical features require the definite article (the)
E.g. … to the ecology of Silicon Valley incorrect
… to the ecology of the Silicon Valley correct

47. Quick Tip

Fruits vendors wrong
Fruit vendors correct
According to my opinion, he is right incorrect
In my opinion, he is right correct

48. Possessive form and Non Living things

Possessive form cannot be used with things without life.
E.g. His room’s window is open wrong
The window of his room is open correct

49. At the end Vs In the end

At the end means at the farthest point.
In the end means finally or at last
E.g. There is a holiday at the end of this month
In the end, they reached the city

50. The country Vs A country

The country refers to the part of country consisting of fields, forests and
mountains. A country refers to a place like India, England, etc.

51. Quick Tip

One can always tell/speak the truth and not say the truth.
Students take examination and teachers give examination.

To be busy is correct usage and not having work

E.g. I have much work this morning incorrect
I was busy this morning correct
I have a lot of work to do this morning correct

Ride a bicycle is wrong, mount/get on to a bicycle is correct

E.g. He rode his bicycle and went home incorrect
He got on his bicycle and rode home correct
They got off their bicycles correct
They came down from the horse incorrect
They dismounted (or got off) from the horse correct

What do you call this in English? Correct

How do you call this in English? Incorrect

52. Run-on Sentences

E.g. Nietzsche moved to Basel in 1869, he planned to teach classical philology
Error: Run-on sentences (like the one above) where two different
clauses/sentences are separated by a comma are not acceptable.

The sentence can be corrected as follows.

1. Make two separate sentences
Nietzsche moved to Basel in 1869. He planned to teach classical philology.

2. Change the comma to a semicolon

Nietzsche moved to Basel in 1869; he planned to teach classical philology.

3. Join the clauses with a semicolon and a transition word such as however or
Nietzsche planned to teach classical philology; therefore, he moved to Basel in
Some common transition words are:
also consequently
however nevertheless
then thus
besides furthermore
hence otherwise
moreover still

4. Join the two sentences with a coordinating conjunction

Nietzsche moved to Basel in 1869, and he planned to teach classical philology.

The coordinating conjunctions are:

and or
for but
nor yet

5. You can join the sentences with a subordinating conjunction (if appropriate)
Because Nietzsche planned to teach classical philology, he moved to Basel in
There are many subordinating conjunctions. Here are some of the most common
although if
though where
so after
since unless
while therefore
because than
until thereby

6. You can use relative clauses

Relative clauses usually begin with who, that, or which, and they relate the
information in one clause to the subject of the other clause

Nietzsche, who planned to teach classical philology, moved to Basel in 1869

52. Sentence Fragments

Every sentence must contain at least one complete independent clause. If there is
no independent clause at all, or if what’s supposed to be the independent clause is
incomplete, you’ve got a sentence fragment.

E.g. While many people, who have worked hard for many years, have not
managed to save any money, although they are trying to be more frugal
now. – incorrect

This sentence fragment consists of nothing but subordinate clauses. One of the
subordinate clauses must be made into an independent clause. Given below are
some correct usages of the above sentence.

Most people, who have worked hard for many years, have not managed to
save any money, although they are trying to be more frugal now.

While most people, who have worked hard for many years, have not
managed to save any money, they are trying to be more frugal now

53. Quick Tip

Curfew is a singular noun, and therefore requires the determiner the.

54. Quick Tip

The greatest change in my life was when I immigrated to the US incorrect
The greatest change in my life occurred/happened correct
when I immigrated to the US
This is similar to
E.g. This pen is a bargain because it is only ten cents.
Error: Pen and ten cents are not same.

The change was good for me.
The change was a good one for me.
The change was an important step for me in my life.
The change was when I came to the US.

55. May Vs Might

The visiting doctors concluded that the present amalgam is probably as good as or
better than, any other system that might be devised for the patients. - correct

Can we replace might with may in the above sentence? What is the difference?
In general, may has more of a concrete meaning, so should
be used more in statements of fact, whereas might is a bit less tangible, and tends
to be used more in expressions of things that don't yet exist (hypothetical
situations). Also, a bit more simply, since might is the past tense form of may, we
use might more in the past tense.

However, we often use them interchangeably in many constructions--there is a lot

of overlap between may and might.

56. Preposition + Noun

After every preposition, we must have a noun, and only a noun; never can we
have a verb after a preposition. Prepositions can also be subordinating
conjunctions. In other words, they can be followed by a noun or by a sentence,
depending on the meaning.
E.g. After lunch, I felt sleepy.
In this sentence, After is a preposition and is therefore followed by
only one noun, lunch (no verb here!!).
E.g. After I worked twelve hours, I felt tired.
In this sentence, After is a subordinating conjunction and is
followed by a sentence, I worked twelve hours.
E.g. I worked until midnight
Here, until is a preposition and is followed by a noun, midnight.
E.g. I worked until I felt tired
In this sentence, until is a subordinating conjunction and is followed by a
sentence, I felt tired

57. List of prepositions

aboard close by outside
about close to over
above concerning past
absent considering pending
according to despite per
across down plus
after (can also be a subordinating due to regarding
conjunction) during respecting
against except round
ahead of except for save
all over excepting saving
along excluding similar to
alongside failing since(sub)
amid or amidst for(sub) without
among for all (this means despite) than
around from thanks to (this means because of)
as(Sub) given through
as of in throughout
as to in between till
as + ADVERB OF TIME + as in front of to
as early as in keeping with toward or towards (both forms are
as late as in place of correct, but toward is considered
as often as in spite of lightly more formal)
as much as in view of under
as many as, etc. including underneath
aside inside unlike
astride instead of until(sub)
at into unto
away from less up
bar like upon
barring minus up to
because of near versus
before (sub) near to via
behind next to wanting
below notwithstanding with
beneath of within
beside off
besides on
between on top of
beyond onto
but opposite
by other than
by the time of out
circa out of

58. Quick Tip

credit with…- to give or assign responsibility
E.g. Thomas Edison is credited with inventing the light bulb.
credit to… - give money
E.g. The bank credited $1 million to trebla's account.
credit for…- money received for in exchange of something
E.g. The customer received a $20 credit for the interruption in service.
Data is the plural of datum
Crises is the plural of crisis
Hopefully, the crisis ends… - is not accepted by most people
I hope that the crisis ends…. -Accepted
However, the following sentence is accepted.
Mercifully, the game ended before…
d) (Less preferred) being < since < because
During + <time> - incorrect
During two hours, I felt sleepy. - incorrect
During the last two hours, I have felt sleepy. - correct

Both of them did not go to school - incorrect
Neither of them went to school - correct
John has not come also - incorrect
John has not come either - correct

59. Negative sentences and conjunctions

If a negative word is used in a sentence, the conjunction should be or and not and
He did not speak loudly and clearly - incorrect
He did not speak loudly or clearly - correct

However, if the subjects are different, and can be used

E.g. He did not write and I did not feel at rest.

60. More Tips

To cut one’s hair - incorrect
Have one’s haircut - correct
Today morning, today afternoon, this night, yesterday afternoon -incorrect
This morning, this afternoon, tonight, last afternoon -correct
Search a lost thing - incorrect
Search for a lost thing - correct
Wish a thing - incorrect
Wish for a thing - correct
Dispose a thing - incorrect
Dispose of a thing - correct

61. Taller than I/me?

E.g. He is taller than I/me?
He is taller than I(am) - correct; am silent

We also want to be careful in a sentence such as "I like him better than
she/her." The "she" would mean that you like this person better than she
likes him; the "her" would mean that you like this male person better than
you like that female person. (To avoid ambiguity and the slippery use of
than, we could write "I like him better than she does" or "I like him better
than I like her.")

62. Comprised of
E.g. The team then, comprised of 12 members. -incorrect
The team then, comprised 12 members. -correct

Comprised of, can be used only in passive sentences.

63. Quick Tip

Mobile subscribers base has recorded a rapid growth last year -incorrect
Mobile subscriber base has recorded a rapid growth last year - correct

Subscribers base is incorrect as subscriber here refers to an adjective, which

cannot be plural.

64. Murder Vs Assassinate

Murder is to kill a person. Assassinate is to kill a person for money or political
E.g. He was paid $100000 to assassinate the president.
Who assassinated Kennedy?

65. Salary Vs Wage

Salary is the fixed sum of money, that you earn every month. Whereas wage is the
sum that you earn per hour.
E.g. He has a salary of $3000 a month.
In Burger King you earn a wage of $6 an hour.

66. Injury Vs Wound

Injury is damage to the body. Wound is damage to the body as a result of
E.g. He was injured in the car crash. - correct
The soldier was wound. - correct
He was wounded in the car crash. - incorrect

67. Quick Tip

E.g. They serve meals on many of the buses that run from Santiago to
Error: Ambiguity: Who are they?

Meals are served on many of the buses that run from Santiago to Antofagasta.
- correct
It seldom rains in Death Valley - correct and accepted

67. One and You

When we give advice to others or make general statements, we often use the
pronouns one and you. “You should brush your teeth every day.” “One never
knows what to do in a situation like that.” It is never acceptable to mix one and
you, or one and yours, or you and one’s in a sentence together.

E.g. One shouldn’t eat a high-fat diet and avoid exercise, and then be surprised
when you gain weight. - incorrect
One shouldn’t eat a high-fat diet and avoid exercise, and then be surprised
when one gains weight. - correct
You shouldn’t eat a high-fat diet and avoid exercise, and then be surprised
when you gain weight. - correct

Never use one or one’s to refer back to any antecedent except one.
E.g. A person should leave a light on in an empty house if one wants to give
the impression that someone is at home. - incorrect
A person should leave a light on in an empty house if he or she wants to
give the impression that someone is at home.- correct
One should leave a light on in an empty house if one wants to give the
impression that someone is at home. - correct
One should leave a light on in an empty house if he or she wants to give
the impression that someone is at home. - correct

68. Verbs and Verbals

A verb is a word that expresses an action or a state of being.
A verbal is a word that is formed from a verb but is not functioning as a verb.
There are three kinds of verbals,
1. Participle
2. Gerund
3. Infinitive

Note: It is important to realize that a verbal is not a verb, because a sentence

must contain a verb, just having a verbal without a verb won’t do. A group
of words containing a verbal but lacking a verb is not a sentence.

Usually ends in -ing or -ed. It is used as an adjective in a sentence.
E.g. Let sleeping dogs lie.
It is difficult to calm a frightened child.
Peering into his microscope, Robert Koch saw the
tuberculosis bacilli.

Always ends in –ing. It is used in a sentence as a noun. Note that a gerund
can also be the subject of a sentence or clause.
E.g. Skiing can be dangerous.
I was surprised at his acting like such a coward.
Note from the second sentence that a noun or pronoun that comes before a
gerund is in the possessive form: his, not him
The basic form of a verb, generally preceded by to. It is usually used as a
noun, but may be used as an adjective or an adverb.
E.g. Winston Churchill liked to paint (Infinitive used as a noun)
E.g. The will to conquer is crucial (Infinitive used as an
adjective—modifies the will)
E.g. Students in imperial China studied the Confucian classics
to excel on civil service exams (Infinitive used as an adverb
—modifies studied)
E.g. To lose ten pounds is a sensible goal for a dieter. (Note that
an infinitive used as a noun can be the subject of a
69. Quick Tip
…it means multiple identity - wrong
…t means multiple identities - correct (multiple – plural)

The clerk directed Raj to the concerned officer - wrong

The clerk directed Raj to the officer concerned - correct

Pawan’s financial position has taken the knock after he switched to the new
business - wrong
Pawan’s financial position has taken a knock after he switched to the new
business - correct

to work shoulder with shoulder - wrong

to work shoulder to shoulder - correct

consideration by - wrong
consideration from - correct

by the way of - wrong

by way of - correct; and it means “by
means of

70. Parallelism and Verbs

When a sentence has two or more verbs in it, you should always check to see
whether the tenses of those verbs correctly indicate the order in which things
happened. As a general rule, if two things happened at the same time, the verbs
should be in the same tense.

E.g. Just as the sun rose, the rooster crows.

Error: Rose is past tense and crows is present tense, but the words just as indicate
that both things happened at the same time. The verbs should be in the
same tense; Just as the sun rose, the rooster crowed. Just as the sun rises,
the rooster crows. – correct

E.g. Being a French colony, Senegal is a Francophone nation.

Error: We imply (wrongly, in this case) that Senegal is now a French colony. To
make it clear that Senegal used to be a French colony and that that’s why
its citizens speak French, we say: Having been a French colony, Senegal
is a Francophone nation.

71. Mood
Mood is the form of a verb that reflects the way the action of a condition is
conveyed by the verb, as is thought by the speaker.
There are three types of moods.
1. Indicative
Represents something as fact. Verbs in the indicative simply make statements.
E.g. Robert Burns wrote To a Fieldmouse.
2. Imperative
Conveys a command—the subject is understood to be you.
E.g. Remember the Alamo!
3. Subjunctive
Represents something not as factual but as merely existing in the mind of the
writer as a wish, probability, thought, or condition contrary-to-fact
E.g. Many conservative Republicans wish that Ronald Reagan were
still president.
Subjunctive verb forms are used in two ways.
a) The subjunctive form were is used in statements that express a
wish or situations that are contrary-to-fact.
E.g. I wish I were a rich man. (But I’m not.)
If I were you, I wouldn’t do that. (But I’m not you.)
b) The subjunctive of requirement is used after verbs such as ask,
demand, insist, and suggest—or after expressions of requirement,
suggestion, or demand. A subjunctive verb of requirement is in the
base form of the verb: the infinitive without to.
E.g. Airlines insist that each passenger pass through a
metal detector.
E.g. Most doctors would recommend that a patient stop
E.g. It’s extremely important that silicon chips be made
in a dust-free environment.
72. Omission of Articles
Some common types of nouns that don't take an article are,
Names of languages and nationalities: Chinese, English, Spanish, Russian, etc
Names of sports : volleyball, hockey, baseball
Names of academic subjects : mathematics, biology, history

73. Correlative Conjunctions

There is a group of words in English which are called correlative conjunctions.
They are used to relate two ideas in some way. Here’s a list of them:
both . . . and
either . . . or
neither . . . nor
not only . . . but (also)
You should always be careful to place correlative conjunctions immediately
before the terms they’re coordinating.

Wrong: Isaac Newton not only studied physics but also theology.
Correct: Isaac Newton studied not only physics but also theology.
The problem here is that the author intends to coordinate the two
nouns physics and theology, but makes the mistake of putting the
verb of the sentence (studied) after the first element of the
construction (not only), and in so doing destroys the parallelism.
Note that the solution to an error like this is usually to move one of
the conjunctions.

74. Parallelism and Infinitives

Wrong: To drive while intoxicated is risking grave injury and criminal charges.
Correct: To drive while intoxicated is to risk grave injury and criminal charges.

When an infinitive is the subject of to be, don’t use a gerund after the verb and
vice versa. Pair infinitives with infinitives and gerunds with gerunds. Note that we
wouldn’t change both words to gerunds in this sentence because it wouldn’t sound

Wrong: Calling someone long distance is an expensive way to communicate; to

write a letter is much cheaper.

When two clauses express parallel thoughts the way these do, don’t use an
infinitive to begin one and a gerund to begin the other. Use two infinitives or two
gerunds, whichever is idiomatic.

Correct: Calling someone long distance is an expensive way to communicate;

writing a letter is much cheaper.
Correct: To call someone long distance is an expensive way to communicate; to
write a letter is much cheaper.

75. Quick Tip

Don’t put one clause of a sentence in the active voice and one in the passive if
there’s any way to avoid it.
Poor: Richard Strauss wrote Salome, and then Elektra was composed by him.
Better: Richard Strauss wrote Salome, and then composed Elektra.

76. Comparisons
To be considered correct, a sentence that makes a comparison must do two things.
First, it must be clear about what is being compared, and second, it must compare
things that logically can be compared. A sentence that makes an unclear or
illogical comparison is grammatically unacceptable.

There are quite a few expressions that are used to make comparisons.
as . . . as
more . . . than
less . . . than
similar to
different from

These expressions, and other comparative expressions, should remind you that
you must ask yourself two questions about the comparison in the sentence: Is it
clear? Is it logical?
E.g. Wrong: Byron admired Dryden more than Wordsworth.
There are two ways to interpret this sentence: that Dryden
meant more to Byron than Wordsworth did, or that Byron
thought more highly of Dryden than Wordsworth
did.Whichever meaning you choose, the problem can be
cleared up by adding more words to the sentence.
Correct: Byron admired Dryden more than he did Wordsworth.
Correct: Byron admired Dryden more than Wordsworth did.

Wrong: The peaches here are riper than any other fruit stand.
This sentence is comparing peaches to fruit stands, even
though that’s clearly not the intention of the author. We
can correct it so that we’re comparing peaches to peaches
by inserting the phrase those at.
Correct: The peaches here are riper than those at any other fruit
Now the pronoun those is standing in for peaches, so the
sentence is accurately comparing things that can be
reasonably compared: the peaches here and some other
Incomplete comparisons like this one are normally corrected by inserting a phrase
like those of, those in, those at, that of, that in, and that at. Incomplete
comparisons can also be corrected by use of the possessive.
E.g. Wrong: Many critics considered Enrico Caruso’s voice better than
any other tenor. (This is comparing a voice to a person.)
Correct: Many critics considered Enrico Caruso’s voice better than
any other tenor’s.

Note that this is a shortened version of: Many critics considered

Enrico Caruso’s voice better than any other tenor’s voice.
E.g. Wrong: Astaire danced better than any man in the world
This is wrong because he couldn’t have danced better than himself.
Correct: Astaire danced better than any other man in the world.

77. Comparative form

The comparative form is used when comparing only two members of a class, and
the superlative for three or more.
Loretta’s grass grows more vigorously than Jim’s.
Loretta’s grass grows the most vigorously of any in the neighborhood.
Of Buchanan and Lincoln, the latter was taller.
Of McKinley, Roosevelt, and Taft, the last was heaviest.

Comparisons usually involve terms such as like, unlike, similar to, and in contrast
to. Basically, they mark a particular type or parallelism and, as such, require
parallel structures in the objects, people, or whatever that are being compared.
They deserve special consideration because comparisons demand more precise
parallels, even with respect to content, and because they're tested so frequently
that you should be familiar with their oddities. You'll notice that the terms of
comparisons often begin modifying phrases; all the grammar that you'll review in
this section ultimately works together.

78. Prepositions usage and conjunctions

Wrong: Ezra Pound was interested but not very knowledgeable about economics.
This is wrong because the preposition that’s needed after the word interested (in)
is not the same as the preposition that follows the word knowledgeable (about).
Correct: Ezra Pound was interested in but not very knowledgeable about

Wrong: London always has and always will be the capital of the United Kingdom.
This is wrong because the verb form that’s needed after has is not the same as the
one that’s needed after will, so both must be included.
Correct: London always has been and always will be the capital of the United

79. Double negatives

I don’t want no help’’ is unacceptable.
Double negatives are not accepted in standard written English

The obviously negative words are:


no one

The following words are also grammatically negative:


There were no threats. There were no bombing campaigns.

There were neither threats nor bombing campaigns.
There were no threats or bombing campaigns.
There were no threats and no bombing campaigns.
There were no threats, nor were there bombing campaigns.

These are the most common idiomatic ways to join two negative ideas. If you can
remember these patterns, you can probably eliminate many wrong answers,
because they in some way violate these idiomatic patterns.

80. Redundancy
Using two words or phrases that have exactly the same meaning when one would
be sufficient to get the point across is called redundancy.
E.g. Wrong: The school was established and founded by Quakers in 1906.
Established and founded both have the same meaning in this sentence: set
up, created. One or the other is acceptable—using both results in
Correct: The school was established by Quakers in 1906.
Correct: The school was founded by Quakers in 1906.
E.g. Wrong: If temperatures drop during the night and the roads become icy, it
is probable that the schools may be closed tomorrow.
Both the phrase it is probable and the verb may indicate the possibility of
closing the schools—using both is redundant.
Correct: If temperatures drop during the night and the roads become icy, it
is probable that the schools will be closed tomorrow.
Correct: If temperatures drop during the night and the roads become icy,
the schools may be closed tomorrow.

81. Wordiness
More often than not, having extra words in a sentence isn’t downright repetitious,
but is still a problem because the thought could be expressed more concisely.
Versions of Sentence Correction questions can be unacceptable partly or entirely
because they’re too wordy: choose shorter versions as long as no essential words
have been left out of the sentence.

E.g. Wordy: The supply of musical instruments that are antique is limited, so
they become more valuable each year.
Better: The supply of antique musical instruments is limited, so they
become more valuable each year.
E.g. Wordy: Barbara Johnson and Alice Walker are in agreement with each
other that Zora Neale Hurston was a major writer.
Better: Barbara Johnson and Alice Walker agree that Zora Neale Hurston
was a major writer.

82. Quick Tip

Regard as is the correct idiom and regard to be is wrong.
E.g. I regard you as (NOT to be) a close friend.
Can as an auxiliary verb means to be able to
May as an auxiliary verb means to be permitted to
Incorrect: Can we talk? (Well, if you can say it, you are able to talk!)
Correct: May we talk? Correct: We may talk if you can listen to my side.
We use native to for plants and animals, and natives of for people.
E.g. Wolverines are native to North America

83. When/Where and definitions

Do not use when or where in a definition, or where that would be more
E.g. A convention is a meeting of people with something in common (NOT a
convention is where a number of people,etcetera).
E.g. A diagram is a sketch that illustrates (NOT is when a sketch is made to
illustrate) the parts of something.
E.g. I read that (NOT where) you had to leave town.

84. Lay Vs Lie

Lay means "to place something down." It is something you do to something else.
It is a transitive verb.
Incorrect: Lie the book on the table.
Correct: Lay the book on the table. (It is being done to something else.)
Lie means "to recline" or "be placed." It does not act on anything or anyone else.
It is an intransitive verb.
Incorrect: Lay down on the couch.
Correct: Lie down on the couch. (It is not being done to anything else.)
The reason lay and lie are confusing is their past tenses.
The past tense of lay is laid and the past tense of lie is lay.
Incorrect: I lay it down here yesterday.
Correct: I laid it down here yesterday. (It is being done to something else.)
Incorrect: Last night I laid awake in bed.
Correct: Last night I lay awake in bed. (It is not being done to anything
The past participle of lie is lain. The past participle of lay is like the past tense,
E.g. I could have lain in bed all day.

They have laid an average of 500 feet of sewer line a day.

Layed is a misspelling and does not exist. Use laid.

85. Words Commonly Misused

to accept is to willingly receive;
to except is to omit or exclude.
A student may be accepted by a college because, if you except a failing
grade in one or two courses, his academic record is excellent.
(Note: except is usually used as a preposition meaning “with the exception
of.” In many states, stores are open every day except Sunday.)
to adapt is to change something to make it suitable for a certain purpose;
to adopt is to make something one’s own.
Hemingway’s novel To Have and Have Not was adapted for the movies by
William Faulkner. Edgar Poe was adopted as a child by the Allan family.
as verbs, to affect is to influence or change;
to effect is to cause or to make (something) happen.
A lack of rainfall usually affects the size of a harvest.
Penicillin effects a rapid recovery in most patients with bacterial
(Note: effect is usually used as a noun meaning “influence.” Illegible signs
on a road have a bad effect on safety.)
allusion is an indirect reference;
a delusion is something that is falsely believed;
an illusion is a false, misleading, or deceptive appearance.
Someone who fills his talk with allusions to literature and art, to create the
illusion that he is very learned, may have delusions of grandeur.
in most cases, you should use between for two items and among for more
than two. There are exceptions, however; among tends to be used for less
definite or exact relationships.
The competition between Clinton and Perot grew intense.
He is always at his best among strangers.
But: Plant the trees in the area between the road, the wall, and the fence.
amount should be used to refer to a singular or noncountable word,
number to refer to a plural or countable word.
The amount of money he carried in his pocket would feed a substantial
number of people.
another/the other
another refers to any other;
the other is more specific; it refers to one particular other.
Put another log on the fire (any one).
Put the other log on the fire (the last one).

like is a preposition.
It introduces a phrase; as, when functioning as a conjunction, introduces a
subordinate clause.
Jenny Lind was said to sing like a nightingale.
Jenny Lind was said to sing as a nightingale sings
to ensure is to make certain, safe, or secure;
to insure is to provide for financial payment in case of loss;
to assure is to inform positively.
He assured his children that he had insured his life to ensure that they
would not suffer poverty if he died.
beside means “next to” something;
besides means “in addition to.”
The president sat beside the Japanese Prime Minister at the banquet.
Besides the team, there are often reporters in a locker room.
each other/one another
In English, each other is used to refer to two things, and one another is
used for three or more.
Those two theories contradict each other.
Those three theories contradict one another.
had/would have
contrary-to-fact and improbable conditional sentences use the helping verb
would in the then clause, but never in the if clause.
If Cleopatra’s nose had been (NOT would have been) shorter, the face of
the world would have changed.
ingenious means “intelligent, clever, or resourceful”; ingenuous means
“innocent, naive, or simple.”
The thief entered the bank vault by means of an ingenious magnetic
Alice is so ingenuous that she refuses to believe that anyone would
deliberately do harm.
to imply is to state or indicate indirectly; to infer is to deduce or conclude.
Pete sarcastically implied that he was angry.
Joe inferred from Mary’s dejected look that she had failed the exam.
apprise means to inform or tell
appraise means to assess the value
practice is a noun
practise is a verb

86. Quick Tip

“Easy said than done” incorrect

“Easier said than done” correct

“Convinced in” incorrect

“Convinced of” correct
“Show one’s true colour’ incorrect
“Show one’s true colours’ correct
“Can be rest assured…” incorrect
“Can rest assured…” correct

“about” is used for physical dimensions whereas “around” is used for time.

87. Agree to Vs Agree with

Agree to a proposal but agree with a person. That is, agree to is used with
inanimate things and agree with is used with animate ones.

88. Usual Vs Is usual

When something is compared to a subgroup to which it belongs, is usual should
be used. When something is compared to itself, usual is fine
E.g. He feels better than usual. correct
A Mercedes is more expensive than usual for a car incorrect
A Mercedes is more expensive than is usual for a car correct
He is faster than is usual for any human being correct

89. Who Vs Whom

If the answer is he/she, use who. If the answer is him/her, use whom.
E.g. Who broke the glass (He broke the glass)
By whom was the class taken? (by her)

90. Quick Tip

no sooner … than… is the correct usage
He had no sooner sat in the bathroom that the phone began to ring incorrect
He had no sooner sat in the bathroom than the phone began to ring correct

Require that…be…
Normal English requires that “require that” be followed by a “be”

Hoping’s is the correct usage for hoping is

Pare away/down correct

Pare up incorrect

Mistake X for Y correct

Mistake X as Y incorrect
Mistake X to be Y incorrect

Reason for… correct

Reason of… incorrect
Attribute x to y correct

Y is attributed to x correct
Attribute X as the cause of y incorrect
Prefer A to B correct
Prefer A for B incorrect
He is afflicted from common cold incorrect
He is afflicted with common cold correct
Patients should be warned about the potential risk of medicine. incorrect
Patients should be warned of the potential risk of medicine. Correct
Believe A as X incorrect
Believe A to be X correct
Care about correct usage. (E.g. Do not care about your
Contrast A With B correct usage( E.g. If you contrast my proposal with
your’s, then you will find that there is not much
Different than incorrect
Different from correct
Hardly never incorrect
Hardly ever correct
Ignorant to incorrect
Ignorant of correct
Concur with a decision incorrect
Concur in a decision correct
Worried over incorrect
Worried about correct
Neither (A or B), nor C !!! correct
Not (A or B), nor C correct
Integrate A into B correct

Situation in which is better than situation where.

91. Quick Notes

1. Answer choices in which the word "being" is a verb are rarely correct. Pay special
attention to where and how "being" is used at the end of the answer choices. This
is a Kaplan takeaway strategy
E.g. I'm afraid of being late. incorrect
I'm afraid that I'll be late. correct
In addition to being one of the finest restaurants…
There are many reasons to get an MBA, with increased career prospects
being the most important..

2. "There" constructions are rarely correct. If you see “there" WITH a comma before
it, it’s probably wrong
3. If you see "which" WITHOUT a comma before it, it’s probably wrong.
4. Consider, regard....as, think of......as: there is no as after consider, while

5. both regard and think of need the as.

6. In general, avoid the construction to be/being because they are usually passive. To
be/being are commonly used in junk answer choices.
7. after when is WRONG
8. From x to Y - CORRECT, From x up to Y - INCORRECT
9. Rates for - CORRECT, Rates of – INCORRECT
10. If who is present it should refer to one before the comma.
11. so much.....as is preferred if it is preceded by a negative. Ex: She left
12. not so much as a trace.
13. Have + verb (-ed) + present participle (-ing) is WRONG ex: have elected retiring
is wrong should be have elected to retire
14. A relative pronoun (which, that or who) refers to the word preceding it. If the
meaning is unclear, the pronoun is in the wrong position. The word "which"
introduces non-essential clauses and "that" introduces essential clauses. "Who"
refers to individuals; "that" refers to a group of persons, class, type, or species.
15. Wrong: The line at the bank was very slow, which made me late. Right: I was late
because of the line at the bank OR The line at the bank made me late.
16. "if" vs. "whether" vs "whether or not". if these are being tested in one sentence
choose "whether" almost 100% of the time

92. Disinterested Vs Uninterested

Disinterested: Neutral/unbiased
E.g. The best judges are disinterested.
Uninterested: Bored/Not interested
E.g. Uninterested in his homework, Martin nodded off.

93. Quick Tip

Wrong : A has half the chance than B has.
Right : A has half the chance that B has.

Broadcast is plural.

94. Equal Vs Equivalent

Equal should be used only in its strict sense.
E.g. 4+3 is equal to 5+2
Equivalent is preferable when we are saying that two thing s are not entirely
identical, but are almost equal.
E.g. Country X spent $xx on something, equivalent to the GDP of
country Y.
95. Semi Colons
Semi Colons are used to seperate different clauses in a statemet. This is
something we are all aware of. Another use and eg. of semi colon.
When the items in a series themselves contain commas, separate the items with
Incorrect: We visited Erie, Pennsylvania, Buffalo, New York, and Toronto,
(Confusing. Semicolons needed to make clear distinctions.)

Correct: We visited Erie, Pennsylvania; Buffalo, New York; and Toronto, Ontario.

100. Colons
• Colons with lists - Use a colon before a list when the list is preceded by a
complete independent clause. Eg. John has all the ingredients: minced clams,
milk, potatoes, and onions
• Colons introduce quotations that are formal or lengthy. Eg. Dickens wrote: "It was
the best of times, it was the worst of times."
• Colons may be used to separate independent clauses that are not separated by a
conjunction or any other connecting word or phrase.
• Semicolons may also be used in such cases. Eg. Grapes are not squeezed: The
pulp is pressed.

101. During
During used with time period without an intermediate mention of the timing of
the period is wrong.
Wrong: During two hours, I felt sleepy
Right: During the last two hours, I felt sleepy

102. Quick Tip

to include - incorrect
including - correct