The English of almost every BBA & HM exam includes questions from the topic “Sentence Correction”. This topic is considered to be quite important and generally every year a good number of questions are asked on this topic.
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First of all, there are some grammar basic rules, which one must know for a better understanding of Sentence Correction Questions. These are:
I. Subject-Verb Understanding: The verb in a sentence must be in accordance with its subject.
(i) They both should be either singular or plural.
- A boy is reading a novel (singular).
- The boys are reading a novel (plural)
(ii) In case, the subject is a collective noun, then the verb will take a singular form.
- The class is making a noise.
Note: There are four collective nouns viz. - cattle, poultry, police and gentry; with these nouns, we use a plural verb. And there are exceptions to the rule.
(iii) In case, the subjects are connected by AND; they require a plural verb.
- Gold and Silver are precious metals.
(iv) If the subjects are connected by OR, the verb used will be singular
- The dog or the pup is sick.
(v) In case there are two different subjects; the verb is put matching the closure subject.
- Sachin or I am going for a party.
- Sachin or Rahul is going for the party.
(vi) All the sentences that begin with EACH, EVERYONE and ANYONE will have a singular verb.
- Every one of the boys loves to ride.
- Anyone has a pen, please.
(vii) Confusion between I and Me: Often there is confusion on which form to use when there are two subjects or objects linked with AND, as in these examples:
a) Jenny and me/I joined the chess club.
b) Jill took Justin and me/I to the shop.
In sentence a) - Jenny and me/I are the subjects of the verb joined. Therefore, the subject pronoun ‘I’ is considered correct grammatically.
For sentence b) - Justin and me/I are the objects of took. Therefore ‘me’ is considered correct grammatically.
Note: Whenever a comparison is made using than or as, the objective form of Pronoun is used.
- He is taller than I am.
- He writes as fast I am.
- I swim better than him.
- I am as tall as her.
(vi) Usage of NEITHER....NOR and EITHER.....OR:
If both the subjects are singular, the verb will also be singular.
- Either the mother or the daughter has cooked the meal.
But when one of the subjects, joined by OR or NOR is plural, the verb must be plural and the subject should be placed near the verb.
- Neither the teacher nor the students were present.
While forming a sentence, the structure of the sentence should be kept parallel. If an infinitive is used, then all the phrases should have an infinitive. If a verb is used after it, then we use the objective cases.
- Example: She likes to cook, dance and play.
Similar rule is used for a gerund.
- Example: She likes cooking, dancing and playing.
II. Repetition Error: Sometimes also referred a ‘redundancy’, this is the error of writing the same thing twice.
- He returned back from Delhi.
- I hardly have any money to give you.
The correct way of saying these should be
- He came back from Delhi.
- I have no money to give you.
III. Modifier Error: A common blunder is to leave a participle, without a subject.
- Sitting on the gate, a scorpion stung him.
Here, ‘sitting’ cannot be used for scorpion as it is grammatically incorrect. So, the correct way of saying should be -
Sitting on the gate, he was stung by a scorpion or
While he was sitting on the gate, a scorpion stung him.
- He visited the place where Napoleon died during his holidays.
It seems as the participle ‘during his holidays’ is used for Napoleon while it is meant for the person visiting. So the correct way of saying should be -
During his holidays, he visited the place where Napoleon died. Using this, it is easy to grasp.
IV. Comparisons: The comparisons made should be between two similar things, like - The population of London is greater than any other city in India. We are comparing:-
(a) The population of London
(b) Any other city in India.
The correct comparison should be between the populations of both. So, the correct expression should be:-
The population of London is greater than that of any other city in India.
(a) When comparative degree is used with than, make sure that we exclude the thing compared from the rest of class of things by using the
- He is stronger than any man living. (Incorrect).
- He is stronger than any other man living. (Correct).
- Similarly, Solomon was wiser than all other men.
(b) In superlative degree, we must include the thing compared.
- Solomon was the wisest of all men.
- He is the strongest of all men.
Difference Between some confusing words
i) Few and Less
Few is used before countable nouns while ‘less’ is used before uncountable nouns.
- There a few children in the class today.
- There is less juice left in the jar.
ii) Few and A few
Few is equivalent to something negligible, hardly any while. A few is equivalent to some.
- Few persons can keep a secret.
- A few persons are convinced about the new manager.
iii) Little and A Little
‘Little’ and ‘a little’ are used for quantity in the same manner.
- There is little hope of his recovery (almost nil).
- A little tact would have saved the situation (some tact).
iv) Lay and Lie
We need to distinguish between these two words as they are used very differently.
(a) Lay, laid – read the examples given below to understand the difference clearly.
- ‘Lay the table’ ordered the mistress
- He laid the guitar by his side.
- The hen had laid an egg.
(b) Lie, Lay, Lain
- Let me lie down here.
- He lay under the Banyan tree.
- He had lain in the sun for three hours yesterday.
Some Tricks to solve Sentence Correction:
i) Trust Your Ears - If you become stuck, 'say' the choices in your head and then select the passage that sounds best to your ears.
ii) Know the Time - Use time indicators like -before, during etc., to eliminate options that contain verb tense errors. Note here that events that occur during the same time period must be in the same tense.
iii) Run the Numbers - If a sentence is about some sort of numerical quantity, check for idiomatic errors. And apply the above-mentioned difference between words.
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