Spotting Errors : General English

Updated: Aug 24, 2020

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In spotting the errors, you are presented with a paragraph/sentence containing certain errors which you need to rectify. Usually, these errors are related to parts of speech, genders, infinitives, participles, the form of tenses, use of articles etc. Hence, you need to be well acquainted with all the rules of grammar to solve spotting errors questions.

Rules to Solve Spotting Errors Questions

Errors based on Nouns A noun is a word used to identify any of a class of people, places or things. Some of the nouns, be it singular or plural, follow certain rules to complete a sentence. These are mentioned below: 1. Some nouns which are singular in form but are used as plural nouns are followed by a plural verb. These include- Cattle, Peasantry, People, Vermin, Police, Clergy.

Example: The cattle is grazing near the farm. (Incorrect) The cattle are grazing near the farm. (Correct)

2. Some nouns which are used as plural nouns are always followed by a plural verb. These include- Scissors, Stockings, Trousers, Specs, Shorts, Goods, Employees. Example: Where is my stockings? (Incorrect) Where are my stockings? (Correct)

3. Some collective nouns are used as both singular and plural depending on the meaning. When these nouns refer to a unit, a singular verb is used, otherwise, plural will be used. These include- Team, Public, Government, Committee, Jury, Audience. Example: The company was founded in the year of 1992 (Correct) The company were founded in the year of 1992 (Incorrect)

4. There are some nouns which are always followed by a singular verb. These include- Poetry, Machinery, Ethics, Mathematics, Physics, Classics, Innings, Stationery, News, Abuse, Economics, Business. Example: Ethics are important. (Incorrect) Ethics is important. (Correct)

Errors based on Pronouns A pronoun is a word that takes place of the noun (for example- He, She, They, Someone, Who). Some of the pronouns follow certain rules to complete a sentence which are mentioned below: A pronoun should always agree with its antecedent in person, number, and gender. An antecedent is a noun that a pronoun is replacing or referring to.

Example: All students must do their homework. (Correct) Each student must bring their books (Incorrect)

Each student must bring his books. (Correct)

2. The pronoun ‘one’ should always be followed by one’s.

Example: One must finish his task in time. (Incorrect) One must finish one’s task in time. (Correct)

3. There is always a confusion regarding the usage of pronouns- who and whom. Who and whoever are subjective pronouns whereas whom and whomever are objective. To put it simply, ‘who’ denotes the subject of the verb and ‘whom’ works as an object in the sentence. Example: Whom is the project leader? (Incorrect) Who is the project leader? (Correct)

Who are you talking to? (Incorrect) Whom are you talking to? (Correct)

Errors based on Adjectives An adjective is a word naming an attribute of a noun such as sweet, bad etc. Some of the adjectives follow certain rules to complete a sentence which is mentioned below- 1. Comparative adjectives are used to compare differences between the two. Some of these adjectives such as Superior, Inferior, Prior etc are always followed by ‘to’.

Example: He is superior to me in position. (Correct) He is superior than me in position. (Incorrect)

2. Do not use adjectives in place of adverbs. Example: She drove quicker than everybody else. (Incorrect) She drove quickly than everybody else. (Correct)

Errors based on Adverbs Adverbs refer to words that modify the meaning of an adjective or verb. Some of the adverbs follow certain rules to complete a sentence which is mentioned below- Some of the adverbs having the same meanings create confusion in the minds of people, these are mainly- less and fewer. ‘Less’ is used to describe quantity whereas ‘fewer’ is used to denote numbers.

Example: Less than thirty children each year develop the disease. (Incorrect) Fewer than thirty children each year develop the disease. (Correct)

People want to spend fewer time in traffic. (Incorrect) People want to spend less time in traffic. (Correct)

2. Some of the adverbs such as little, a little, the little, are used in different places. ‘Little’ has a negative meaning which means hardly any. Example: There is a little hope of his recovery. (Incorrect) There is little hope of his recovery. (Correct)

‘A little’ has positive attributes and means some (though not much). Example: Little knowledge is a dangerous thing. (Incorrect) A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. (Correct) ‘The little’ means ‘not much’, but all that is. Example: A little honey in the pot might prove useful. (Incorrect) The little honey in the pot might prove useful. (Correct)

Miscellaneous Errors Words beginning with the letter ‘h’ such as Honest, Honor, Heir, Hour etc. are silent. Hence, we use ‘an’ article before them instead of ‘a’.

Example: We are a hour late. (Incorrect) We are an hour late. (Correct)

2. Prepositions such as Since and For are often mistaken. Since indicates a point of time whereas for indicates the length of time. Example: I have been reading this book since 3 hours. (Incorrect) I have been reading this book for 3 hours. (Correct)

Apart from the above-mentioned rules, there are certain things which you should keep in mind. In order to solve spotting errors questions, you need to practice a lot and improve your grammar. We have provided some important tips to help you solve spotting errors questions with ease, have a look:

  1. Preparation Tips to Solve Spotting Errors QuestionsPractice with previous year’s papers and mock tests. You can find dozens of papers and mock tests to help you in practicing various types of questions.

  2. Improve your grammar with the help of reference books. As grammar plays an important role in spotting errors questions, you should strive to learn more and more rules.

  3. Check for spelling mistakes while attempting the questions. Sometimes, an error may have something to do with the spelling. So, it is advised that you should pay special attention to them while answering the questions.

  4. During the exam, you should read the complete sentence carefully. In most of the cases, you will be able to spot the error easily. If not, then read parts of sentence individually and analyze what exactly is wrong with it.

  5. Do not panic during the exam. Always stay ahead of time and leave the questions which you find difficult for later.

  6. Most of all, practice a lot and always maintain a positive outlook.

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