To answer the questions on 'error spotting' and 'sentence correction', one has to know a bit of grammar. Normally, errors are found in subject-verb agreement, modifiers, parallelism, wrong usage of words, etc. We will briefly discuss some basic concepts here.
Subject - Verb Agreement
Verb: It is an action word and represents action in the sentence.
Subject: It is the doer of action or verb.
Object: It is on whom the action is being performed.
Consider the Sentence: Ram kicks the ball. Here the action word is 'kick'. 'Ram' is the subject and 'the ball' is the object.
The meaning of subject-verb agreement is: When the subject is singular, use a singular verb. When the subject is plural, use a plural verb. In other words, the subject of the sentence and its verb should agree in number.
However, the following exceptions should be taken into consideration.
1. Collective Nouns (nouns representing a collection, like a bouquet of flowers, committee, etc.) take a singular verb. e.g.
(a) The jury ___ giving the verdict today. (is/are)
(b) A group of boys ___ waiting outside (is/are)
(c) Some boys ___ waiting outside (is/are)
In the first sentence, Jury is a collective noun and hence a singular verb is. Many would have gone for are in the second sentence. But the subject in this sentence is not merely boys but a group of boys which is collective noun and will thus take a singular verb is. However, we make the verb agree with the subject some boys and use the plural verb are in the third sentence. So the trick is in identifying whether the subject is singular or plural.
2. Whenever one refers to any quantity or number, a singular verb is used. e.g.
Five hundred rupees ___ not enough to buy a car. (is/are)
The answer is.
3. Nouns - parenthesis and subject-verb agreement
Consider the following sentences.
(a) The father along with his sons___ going for fishing. (is/are)
(b) John as well as Jake ___ here at the party. (is/are)
The answer in both of them is is. Most of the students will have gone for are. Here the concept of parenthesis is used. Punctuate the first sentence. It is punctuated as: The father, along with his sons, is going for fishing. What one sees here is that what is separated off by the comma has no relation grammatically to the subject of the sentence, father. Since father is singular, the verb is singular. What one has separated off by commas is called a 'parenthetical element' or 'parenthesis'. A parenthetical element between the subject and the verb has no influence on the verb. The subject decides the verb. Similarly, in the second sentence as well as Jake is a parenthetical element, which has no bearing on the subject, John. Hence, a singular verb.
Adjectives modify a noun in a sentence. Adverbs modify a verb, another adverb, or an adjective in a sentence. Therefore, adjectives and adverbs are modifiers and these modifiers, in whatever forms (adj./adv-phrase/clause), modify something else in the sentence.
The following points should be noted.
1. The modifier should be placed immediately before/after what it modifies (as is appropriate). If the modifier is not so placed, the error that results is called a misplaced modifier. e.g.
(a) He is enough tall to play basket ball.
(b) We could not discuss our problems completely.
(a) The modifier (adverb) is enough and it is modifying adjective tall. Here it is not appropriate to place modifier before tall, but it should be placed after tall. The correct sentence is: He is tall enough to play basket ball.
(b) The modifier (adverb) is completely. Is it modifying problems or the verb discuss? It is modifying discuss and hence it should be placed with it. The correct sentence is:
We could not completely discuss our problems.
Example: After finishing his speech, the audience was invited to ask questions.
Here, 'After finishing. . .' modifies the speaker and not the audience. Hence, the speaker/ he has to follow. The correct sentence is:
After finishing his speech, he invited the audience to ask questions.
Parallelism means giving words equal importance, equal form and equal weight in a sentence. Each word should be of same order in the sentence. e.g.
- He spoke forcefully and with clarity.
- The job of the secretary was to file papers, to answer calls and typing.
These sentences do not have parallel construction. The correct sentences are as follows.
- He spoke forcefully and clearly. (Equal importance to 'forcefully' and 'clearly')
- The job of the secretary was to file papers, to answer calls and to type. (Same order)
This error is in saying the same thing twice through different words. e.g.
Revert back within 15 days.
Here 'revert' and 'back' have the same meaning. The correct sentence is:
Revert within 15 days.
Choose the alternative that best replaces the underlined part.
1. The major reasons students give for failing to participate in the political process is that they have demanding assignments and work at part time jobs.
- is that they have demanding assignments and work at
- are demanding assignments and they work at
- are that they have demanding assignments and that they have
- is having demanding assignments and having
2. Planning a life ahead is easier than to live it.
- Planning a life ahead is easier than to live it.
- To plan a life in front of you is easier than to live it.
- To plan a life ahead is easier than living it.
- To plan a life ahead is easier than to live it.
3. A woman who is over 75 years are not allowed to travel alone.
- A woman who is above 75 years are not allowed to travel alone.
- 75-year-old women are the ones who are not allowed to travel alone.
- A woman who is over the age of 75 is not allowed to travel alone.
- A woman who is above 75 is not allowed to travel.
4. Neither she nor her plight were any longer amusing.
- Neither her nor her plight were any longer amusing.
- Neither she or her plight was any longer amusing.
- Neither she nor her plight was any longer amusing.
- Neither she nor her plight were any longer amusing.
- Here the error is of subject-verb agreement and parallelism. The major reasons students is a plural situation and hence the verb should be are. It is there only in (b) and (c). Option (b) does not have parallel construction. Hence, (c) is the answer.
- Here the error is of parallel construction. Planning has –ing form and live has to live form. Only (b) and (d) have correct parallel construction. But (b) changes the meaning. Therefore, (d) is the answer.
- Here the error is of subject-verb agreement. There is only one woman in the sentence. So the verb should be is. Only (c) and (d) have the correct form of the verb. Option (d) changes the meaning, as the word alone is not there, and is too general. The answer is (c), as it is specific, and its meaning is similar to the main sentence.
- Here there is only one person being mentioned. Hence, the subject is singular. So the verb should be was. Only (b) and (c) have the correct form of the verb. But after Neither, the word nor comes. Hence, the answer is (c).
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