Articles are pretty easy to manage. Tenses may be a notch higher and conjunctions too. But nothing that a little practice cannot beat. This post deals with troublesome articles, tenses and conjunctions and how to handle them. In view of the constraints of time that a student / learner of English faces today, I believe that it will be all the more useful that fundas / rules on Grammar & English be given as briefly as possible to make a point succinctly.

I’ve seen entrance exams very closely and can confidently aver that- ‘Should you do these Blogposts very well’ – You shall have done the very best that exists on internet about English, Grammar & all related; that gets asked in competitive exams.

1. The rule of AN

‘An’ is used before words beginning with vowel sounds. Please note – SOUND. If your word begins with a vowel but the sound is consonantal, the indefinite article ‘A’ will be used. And, if the word begins with a consonant but has a vowel sound, the indefinite article ‘AN‘ will be used. For e.g.

  • An heir (heir is pronounced as air)
  • An NRI (en-aar-ai)
  • An FB account (eff-bee)
  • A university (because we say yoo-ni-ver-sity)
  • A European country (yo-ro-pi-an)
  • A facebook account

TIP: Don’t just use your eyes. Use your ears too – when it comes to vowel. Sirf aankho dekhi baaton pe bharosa nahi karte!

2. The rule with numbers

An indefinite article ‘a or an’ is necessary in expressions referring to numbers, speed, price and frequency such as

  • A kg of rice
  • 100 km an hour
  • Five times a day

3. Rule about changing meaning with change in position of article

Sometimes the use of the indefinite article ‘a’ before and after certain adjectives changes the very sense of the word. For e.g. the use of ‘A’ before the adjectives  ‘few’, ‘little’, ‘slight’, etc changes the very meaning expressed by these words. Few means nearly nothing but ‘a few’ means some.

  • He has little time to spare. (means no time)
  • He has a little time to spare. (means he can spare some time)
  • Few people attended the concert. (negative sense – no people)
  • A few people attended the concert. (positive sense – at least some people attended)

4. The definite article ‘the’ is used with things that are one of a kind.

For e.g.

  • The moon, the earth, the sky, the PM, The solar system.

In other words, nouns that single out one individual or thing.

5. Rule for extreme ‘ONLY’ cases

Definite article ‘the‘ is used before superlatives. It is also used before only when the word only has been used as an adjective.

  • He is the only one for me.
  • This is the best blog on motivation.
  • The only purpose of life is to be happy.

TROUBLESOME TENSES

1. The past tense in the principal clause must be followed by a past tense in the subordinate or dependent clauses.

  • I felt that she was a little worried about her placements.
  • I forgot that her parents were coming for dinner today.
  • I saw that the phone had broken.
  • I thought that she was a perfect match for him.

EXCEPTIONS

When a universal truth is expressed in the subordinate clause, the tense is not changed.

  • He said that the earth revolves around the sun. (not revolved)
  • Newton knew that the earth rotates. (not rotated)

When the subordinate clause begins with ‘than’ or ‘as‘, any tense may be used in the subordinate clause, even if there is past tense in the principal clause.

  • I met her more frequently that I meet you.
  • She loved you more than she loves me.
  • He cared for his phone more than he cares for other necessary belongings.

Tip: See if the word THAN is separating two different eras (In the above examples, eras belonging to two different girlfriends). If yes, the tenses may differ. Because one clause talks about the past whereas the other clause talks about the present.

Time follows its own rules. We all follow time 🙂 

TROUBLESOME CONJUNCTIONS

Conjunctions are words used to join words, sentences and clauses together. For e.g.

As soon… as
Both.. and
Either … or
Neither … nor
Lest … should
Not only … but also
Hardly … before / when
Though … yet
Whether … or
Scarcely … when /before

1. No sooner … Than

When a negative co-relative is used in the beginning of a sentence, a helping verb must be used before the subject (e.g. do, does, did etc)

  • Scarcely did she hear the news when she began to cry.
  • No sooner did the doctor came than she died. (No sooner is always followed by than)

2. Though … yet

When ‘though‘ is used with a verb for expressing doubt, a condition contrary to fact, a wish, a concession (i.e. subjunctive mood) it is followed by ‘yet’ and not by ‘but’.

  • Though she rejected my proposal, yet I will try once again.
  • Though he may have not recognized me, yet I am going to talk to him.

When ‘though’ is used with a verb in an indicative mood (expressing a fact or making a statement) a comma is used in place of ‘yet’.

  • Though he is my relative, I shall not spare him. (he is my relative – a fact/ statement)
  • Though my home is so far, I am going to visit my parents for the festival. (home is far – fact)

3. Co-relative conjunctions

They are – either-or, neither-nor, not only ….but also etc. They should be followed by elements in the parallel form. (Parallelism is fun to learn. Simply put – a sentence should have a consistent tone. The examples below will make it clear.)

  • He would neither study at home nor would he go to school. (incorrect).
  • He would neither study at home nor go to school.(correct)
  • I have seen my friend crying, laugh & do dance with joy.
  • I have seen my friend cry, laugh and dance with joy.

Parallelism is the most commonly tested and most commonly overlooked concepts (by the students) in the entrance tests.

Directions for questions 1 to 15: Fill in the blanks with appropriate article or leave the space blank if no article is needed.

  1. There isn’t enough (          )   breeze to go sailing.
  2. There is (          )   famous university in Mumbai.
  3. There is (          )   big tree near (          )  lake.
  4. There is (          )   modern skiing center in Manali
  5. We get moderate rain in winter.
  6. There was a big black cloud in (          )  sky.
  7. There aren’t any (          )   serious problems.
  8. Is there any water in (          )   glass?
  9. How many small apples are there in this bag?
  10. How many days are there in (          )   week?
  11. How many players are there in (          )   team
  12. How many players are there in (          )   cricket team?
  13. (          )   venue remains (          )   same every year.
  14. (          )   venue was chosen for the function.
  15. (          )   uniformed gentleman had gathered in the Holding House.

SOLUTION:

1.
2.  A
3.  A
4.  A, the
5.
6.  The
7.
8.  The
10. A
11. A
12. The
13. The, the
14. A
15. A

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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.

  • stillunemployed

    @akash Sir : I think the numbering is wrong here. Before doing the numbering again,please check question 10 and 12. Are they correct ?

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