Grmmatical mistakes in EnglishLooking for that one place where you find -‘All that YOU need; to help you clear the English section of competitive exams’? Look no further! This blog post carries some of the most common grammatical mistakes you weren’t aware of and their correct answers.

Not all is intended to be covered, nor all is intended to be explained-what is covered below should be enough for you to go ahead and attempt correctly 8 out of 10 questions on English, Grammar & related in any competitive exam – be it CLAT, CSAT, UGC-NET, Bank PO, CAT, GRE, GMAT, SSC, NDA or any that happens in India.

1. Redundancies

It really hurts to overflow the ears with repetitive usage of similar meaning words.

Classic Cases:

a.) Blunder Mistake,
b.) Return Back,
c.) Added Bonus,
d.) Happy 5th year anniversary!!!!
e.) Also (this one is often heard on cooking shows): “Let the sauce reduce down.” How else can it reduce but down. Just say “reduce” and be done with it!

Careful Tip:

For Males: Don’t just spend words extravagantly, sometimes it’s classy to bargain and spend the optimum words.

For Females: Carry on with your judicious spending, it just works always!

2. Two Villains Vs One Villain

Here’s one that really bothers me. Just read the next two lines:

“I couldn’t help but think/laugh/worry, etc”
“I couldn’t help thinking/laughing/worrying, etc.”

Which one makes sense to you?

Rule: Realize that using “help” and “but” together creates a double negative.

Cricket tip: Helping SALMAN BUTT  when he was caught on tape could act as something negative for you.

Filmi Tip:The one villain (one negative) theory has given us hits; Two villains (two negatives) create confusion, complexity and thus lead to flops (egregious errors).

3. Collective Nouns

There are instances where we use collective nouns as singular entities rather than plural like:

“The crowd was rushing” Or
“The crowd  were rushing”

(Both the forms are fine in appropriate situations)

What presses the button is usage like “The club has elected their first president” or “The committee has passed their new rule”.

Rule: Wecannot mix singular and plural forms like this? ( If you stillthink we can, think questions like HAS THEY?) Wouldn’t it sound better like :

1. The club has elected its first president.  Or
The club have elected their first president.

2. The committee has passed its new rule”. Or
The committee have passed their new rule”.

Fun Tip: Same –Same Works in the Game.

So If you’re going to refer to a group (usually of people) with the pronoun “they”, or possessive pronoun “their”, then use the plural form of the verb in the same sentence.  If you prefer to use singular pronouns, then that’s OK too – so long as you use the singular form of the verb!

4. The Random Apostrophe

I’m thinking of starting a “Save the Apostrophe” campaign because it is in danger of dying out altogether because of mass prostitution of usage. Unusual modern use of the apostrophe is in plural acronyms, like “FAQ’s,” “NGO’s,” and “CD’s.”

Rule: “S” with an apostrophe indicates possession as in “The NGO’s new project was a novel concept.”

Here with “NGO’s” we are talking about the project initiated by the NGO. So when we need to talk in terms of multiplicity of number, we just need an “s” and not an apostrophe.

“Today most of the NGOs are doing really well.”

Some more examples to check out:

a)  Plot’s / Plots for sale.
b)  Learn ABC’s/ ABCs of Economics

5. Obsessed myself

Now that makes me gnash my teeth and curl my toes. “I cook myself.”

Friends, understand that this means you are going to fry, bake, sauté etcetera your own self instead of the food. So when you are trying to make your way to somebody’s heart through food cooked by you, use

I cooked food on my own.”

Only in case you have an intention of sacrificing your life and offering yourself in platter to somebody, use “I’ll cook myself.”

6. Gender Bias

Woman/women used as an adjective rather than “female” like” Women pilots”. This seems to have become standard usage. Have you ever thought of saying “man politicians” or “men doctors”?  No, right!

Then why is it acceptable to say “women lawyers?”

Empowering Tip: Fight for Gender equality while your English usage gets corrected along. So the next time you see doctor who is a lady, tag her ‘female doctor’.

7. Direct Translation From Hindi

It just wrecks my ear when I hear people say “I called her again and again”. Or even more naïve “Come… Come… sit… sit…” (Hyperbole intended).

Lovely Tip: The best way to keep the love of language is to give it wings of individuality and worst way to lose the same is to hold it tight with other languages.

8. Effect Vs Affect

Just remember the pictures that follow and you’ll never forget Effect Vs Affect.

affect
The venom affected the villain.
effect
The effect of nail was notorious.

Affect: Affect with an ‘a’ means “to influence,” as in, “The venom affected the villian”.  Or to “act” as in “She affected an air of superiority”.

Effect: Effect with an ‘e’ means “a result” as in “The effect of the nail was notorious” or “The lighting effects were spectacular”. 

Rule: Barring a few exceptions, Affect is used as a verb and effect as a noun. It’s easy to remember with the picture.

“The Venom affected the Villain”, Remember the ‘V’s in the sentence and you’ll remember that “affected” is a verb. And “The effect of nail was notorious”, Remember the ‘N’s and you’ll know that “effect” is a noun. And once you remember that Affect with an ‘a’ is generally used as a Verb and Effect with an ‘e’ is generally used as a Noun, you’ll get it in 95% of the sentences.

EXCEPTIONS:                                               

Well, affect can be used as a noun when you’re talking about psychology–it means the mood that someone appears to have. For example, “She displayed a happy affect.” Psychologists find it useful because they know that you can never really understand what someone else is feeling. You can only know how they appear to be feeling.

And, effect can be used as a verb that essentially means “to bring about,” or “to accomplish.” For example, you could say, “Kapil Sabil hoped to effect change in the education system.”

9. And some more

It’s just too common to encounter statements like “more better, more faster, more swifter”. Before I explain, just carefully read the statement “Women are more better mangers than men.”

When we compare two things, we use comparative adjectives like:

“Their report was better than our report”  or
“Akash is wiser than Mohan”

These are perfectly legitimate sentences. We don’t need to use “more” to compare the two things as the comparative form of the adjective has already been used.

For example:

1) Good , Better
2) Loud, Louder
3) Happy, Happier

Rule: Using a more with comparative adjectives is repetitive and so is incorrect.

Scroll though some examples:

a) Her dress is more prettier than my dress.(Incorrect)
Her dress is prettier than my dress. (Correct)

b) The meal was more better than last night. (Incorrect)
The meal was better than last night. (Correct)

10. Regardless vs Irregardless

We mistakenly use irregardless instead of regardless. Regardless means “without regard” or “despite something”. For example: “ I will eat ice cream regardless of the fact that mom will get angry.”

Rule: Now “ir” is a negative prefix and if we use it with regardless, it gives us a double negative word that means “Without without regard”

The only reason people use it is that they follow the pattern of words like irresponsible and irrespective. Try for yourself:

a)      I am not going to school ____________ of the consequences.
b)       ___________ of the terror alerts, he went to buy a gift for her.

11. So we use So’ so much that it is one of the most common error.

Emphasizing the words in your statements to add the required intensity to your speech but why not do it in a grammatically correct way? “So” seems to add punch to a simple statement — I’m sooooo happy, which is fine in informal conversation. But in formal writing we need to hold our horses of intense emotions and understand the rule.

Rule: When we use “so” with an adjective, so becomes an indefinite adverb of degree instead of a vague intensifier. So, when I say I’m so happy, it pops up the question how happy I am? Thus we need to pair it with that.

For example: “I’m so happy that I feel like dancing on the rooftop”. Here that answers:   “How happy I am?”

So the tip:  When you use so as an adjective, link it with another clause like that.

Practice time:

a)      I am _____ frustrated that I can’t wait even for a second. (So/very)
b)      He was ________ excited. (So/very)

12. Literally

“I’m literally dying to correct this error.” So would just start straight. Literally means “Exactly, accurately, plainly” but when I when I said “I’m literally dying to correct this error.”

Rule: I was trying to draw an analogy to exemplify the intensity of my emotion. So what I mean is “figurative” and not “literal”.

Literal examples:

a)  I’m (literally) starving to death.
b)  He is kicking ass at the kick boxing championship tournament.

13. Dress sense vs Dressing sense

When you turn around to check out your friends clothes and say with a WOW,” Great dressing sense girl!”, you are giving your language a dressing down because of incorrect usage.

Rule: Somebody’s taste in clothes or their ability to coordinate colors & styles effectively is “Dress Sense”. Dressing is a verb, an action. So Dressing Sense is the sense of doing the action.

Thus, she has a good Dressing sense (Incorrect)
She has a good Dress sense (Correct)

Beautiful Tip: Dress up your language with correct usage.

14. Suppose Vs Supposed

Now both these words have different meanings. Let’s check out:

Suppose:

1) To think. Like “I suppose I should leave”

Supposed:

1) Required or obliged like “You are supposed to complete your work”
2) Mistakenly believed or based on not very strong evidence like “She is the supposed Boss”.

Let’s just take one example:

I am suppose to go (Incorrect)
I am supposed to go (Correct)

In the above sentence we mean required to go, so we should use “Supposed”. So far so good but the confusion also sets in with past form of the verb “Suppose” and the adjective “Supposed” (second meaning of supposed)

Let’s try and understand:

A. After no response from her friend, she supposed she was not coming.
B. Their supposed leader failed to support them in tough times.

In the first sentence, the verb, supposed, follows directly after the subject. In the second sentence, supposed is in the adjective place in front of the noun. Don’t forget the adjective form looks like the past tense, but it isn’t really a verb. Try out some examples for more clarity:

a)  I ___________you will tell me when it’s time for dinner. (suppose/supposed)
b)  He is __________to be at work at 6:00 P.M.( suppose/supposed)

15. It’s Vs Its

Its raining or It’s raining?

I know while we talked about Apostrophes, we discussed that “s with an apostrophe” means possession. So keeping that in mind you would reject “It’s raining” as incorrect.

But this one is an exception to the Rule.

Rule: Here “It’s” is a contraction of “it is” or “it has” and here “Its” is a possessive pronoun.
Forever Rule: Repeat your sentence out loud using “it is” instead. If that sounds goofy, “its” is likely the correct choice.

Thus, Its raining (Incorrect)
It’s raining (Correct)

Try some of these:

a)   This club has lost ______motto. ( its/it’s)
b)    _____ not easy to keep your word always. (its/it’s)

16. Sex Vs Gender

Do I sound alien when I say you can have a male sex with a feminine gender … or a female sex with a masculine gender

If I do, I wish to clarify that I am cent percent sure that what I am saying is possible under completely usual, normal circumstances.

Rule: Sex is designation of male or female and Gender is designation of masculine or feminine tendencies. Though both these words are used interchangeably very often but it’s never too late to learn new things.

Here are some examples:

a)  The participants were segregated according to sex and interests.
b)  The gender portrayed by the protagonists was the highlight of the play.

17. Plural Mania

Even the people with command over the English language, sometimes err with plural forms of words.

Hair Vs Hairs: We usually use ‘Hair’ even when we are talking about millions of hair on somebody’s head. Like: she has got beautiful hair.

Rule: It is because we take hair as uncountable unless there is something in the sentence to suggest that they are countable. For e.g.She found two hairs in the dish plate. Now here, two signifies that they are countable, so we use ‘Hairs’.

Consider the some words which we mess while using their plural forms:  

                Singular                                               Plural

a)              Criterion                                                  Criteria

b)                Crisis                                                        Crises

c)              Formula                                                  Formulae

d)               Radius                                                       Radii

e)              Spoonful                                                 Spoonfuls

f)           Daughter-in-law                                   Daughter-in-laws

g)            Maid-Servant                                        Maid-Servants

h)          Man-servant                                            Men-servant

17. Do I hate mom’s ranting or I hate mom ranting?

Confused? Read on for the confusion to settle. The words with “+ing” have three forms.

1) Verb : Doing action like “She is sleeping in her room” (Here sleeping is an action)
2) Participle (Modifier): Adjective like “The sleeping girl’s smile is very beautiful” (Here sleeping modifies noun Girl as an adjective does)

Adverb like “She sat sleeping in the class”(Here sleeping modifies the verb   Sat as an adverb)

3) Gerund : Noun like “Sleeping relieves stress” (Here sleeping is a noun because you can replace it with something that is more obviously a noun: say Pen).

The trouble is with possessives before a gerund, so we move to the basic question:

Do I hate mom’s ranting or I hate mom ranting?

Though mom may be irritating you, the real source of your irritation is the ranting itself and, therefore, the subject of the sentence. So you would say “I hate mom’s ranting” and not mom ranting. (Of course, you don’t hate your mom). Here ranting is the noun and subject, so the modifier needs the proper structure—in this case, a possessive form: “mom’s ”.

Whose ranting is getting on your nerves? The mom’s

Here’s another example:

“I appreciate you working for me”. Correct? or Incorrect?

Just ask yourself, do I appreciate the work or the person? Of course, you appreciate the work done, so working is the subject of the sentence. So it should be “I appreciate your working for me”

Not so Compassionate Tip: Put the deeds ahead of the person.

Some more examples:

a) I hate you spending. (Incorrect)
I hate your spending. (Correct)

b) I love that bird humming. (Incorrect)
I love that bird’s humming. (Correct)

18. Hopefully, I hope we get it right

This word is used incorrectly so much (including by me) it may be too late. But let’s make you smarter anyway.

Hopefully is an adverb like “she looked hopefully at the ice cream”. It modifies the verb looked. Here, she is looking in a hopeful manner, in a hope to get the ice cream. But the problem is when we use something like “Hopefully, I will get that ice cream.”

Here hopefully is modifying the complete sentence and not just the verb. Look at this sentence:

“Hopefully, Tarun stole the exam paper”

Now it could mean two things:

1)  Tarun stole the exam paper in a hopeful manner.
2)  Tarun’s friends are hopeful that he stole the paper.

Rule: In order to avoid confusion or ambiguity in interpretation of the sentences, you should never start a sentence with “hopefully”.

Other words that can function as sentence adverbs include fortunately and honestly

Fortunately, I was out by then. (Incorrect)
Honestly, I wish I were somewhere else. (Incorrect) 

Both of them are modifying the complete sentence.

So, it should be:

I was fortunately out by then. (Correct)
I honestly wish I were someone else. (Correct)

19. Doubt that  Vs Doubt whether

Doubt that is used when you are sure about something being false / negative. Basically, it is reflects surety from your side about some situation. And doubt whether is used in situations of uncertainty.

I do not doubt that he will succeed. (negative sentence)
I doubt whether the news is true.(uncertain sentence)

TIP: Weather forecasts by MET department are always uncertain. So, you can always be in doubt WHETHER the WEATHER will be pleasant today.

Connect WEATHER = WETHER = UNCERTAINTY

How did you find this article?

Some of you would say “ Nice”, some would say “Ok” while some would answer through web, google, website etc.

My intention was to ask if this article was able to clarify your doubts but with sloppy usage my question was interpreted in other ways. Thus “find” is to be used when the intention is to ask “How did you get to know about this article?” or anything else.

For example:

“How did you find this place/person?”

But when you wish to ask if I liked the place or the person, use verbs like “Like”. So to modify: “How did you like this place/person?”And so correcting myself, let me ask you “How did you like this article?”

If the answer is any less than “WOW”, feel free to drop a comment below!

 

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About Author

Akash Gautam is a Motivational Speaker & Corporate Trainer in India. Hundreds of Top Corporates like Google, CIPLA, Vodafone, McKinsey & Co., Maruti, HDFC, RIL, M&M & premier colleges like IIMs, IITs, SRCC etc go to him whenever they need a refreshing, big bang impact. Write to usWrite to us to know how he can transform your Team.

  • lolo tycoon

    gr8 work…I think this is the best way to teach :)

  • Anshul

    There is one mistake in 17th part where Daughters-in-law should be used instead of Daughter-in-laws.

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