Words, phrases and sentences are the roots of any language. An error in their use leaves an expression with no meaning. It would be difficult to understand such sentences. Hence, knowing the roots of the language is crucial to understand the written text and their expression perfectly.
Generally in competitive exams these types of questions have sentences divided into four parts marked as (a) (b) (c) and (d), also the fifth option (e), refers to ‘No error’. The candidates are required to find out the part of the sentence containing the error.
The errors may be relating to the usage of- article, preposition, tense of the sentence, verb, noun, pronoun, adverb, adjective, conjunction, subject-verb agreement and so on. Sometimes the error may also include unwanted use of some words.
We must understand and bear in mind that there is no ‘shortcut’ to answering these questions. We must have a good command over rules of grammar and their application. Study the rules well and then practice these questions. The more you practice the more confidence you get. Do practice the exercises again and again to see a significant improvement in your score.
So some let us study the rules to solve ‘Spotting the error’ questions and also practice them in the links provided….
Rules for spotting errors related to Nouns
UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS are used in singular form only (along with a singular verb and definite article if required).
- I needed some advice, so I went to see the counsellor.
- I don’t like coffee.
- The furniture in this house needs to be replaced.
- The luggage seems heavy.
Examples of uncountable nouns
Advice, Information, Hair, Luggage, Business, Evidence, Employment, Work, Mischief, Bread, Abuse, Scenery, Vacation, Machinery, Food, Poetry, Alphabet, Baggage, Furniture, Paper, Fuel Equipment, Material, Fruit, Table
The expressions like the ones given below are always used as SINGULAR nouns.
- A piece of furniture
- A bottle of water
- A piece of work
- A piece of paper
The expressions like the ones given below are always used as PLURAL nouns.
- These scissors need sharpening.
- My keys are missing.
- Few articles luggage.
- Fifty dollars is too much to pay for that dress.
COLLECTIVE NOUNS like the ones below are always used in plural with plural verbs.
- Fruits are sold here.
- Folk were dancing.
- Papers are distributed.
- Cattle are grazing.
Examples of Collective nouns which are used as plural
Cattle, Gentry, Peasantry, Poultry, Clergy, Folk, People, Majority, Fruits, Tables, Papers
COLLECTIVE NOUNS may be used as singular as well as plural. If they are shown as a body or group then they are singular, but if they are shown as individual members then they are plural.
- The public was angry. (here ‘Public’ is used as a whole)
- The public were reading different books. (here ‘Public’ is used individual members)
- The team is on a holiday. (here ‘Team’ is used as a whole)
- The team are working in the ground. (here ‘Team’ is used as individual members)
Examples of Collective nouns which are used both as singular and plural
Public, Board, Team, Mob, Audience, Ministry, Jury, Staff, Police, Number, Crowd, Family, House, Committee
Rule 6: Sometimes the number of nouns is expressed by using a verb after it.
- Dogs are sleeping. (Plural)
- Dog is sleeping. (Singular)
- Cows are grazing. (Plural)
- A Cow is walking. (Singular)
Rule 7: Some nouns which end with ‘s’ or ‘es’ look like a plural one but they are used with a singular verb
- Mathematics is an interesting subject.
- The news is bad.
- Billiards is my favourite game.
- A pair of glasses.
Examples of nouns with ‘s’ or ‘es’ ending which are used with singular verb
Physics, Economics, Mathematics, Mechanics, Politics, Statistics, Statics, Summons, News, Series, Innings, Glasses, Measles, Rickets, Athletics, Billiards, United States, Aquatics, Gymnastics, United Arab Emirates
- ‘Statistics’ as a subject is singular verb whereas ‘Statistics’ as a collection of data is plural verb.
- Politics, Physics, Mathematics Economics become plural when used in possessive case.
Madhu’s Physics are very good.
Politics of India are very complicated.
Rule 8: Name of books that reflect plurality is used as a singular noun with singular verb.
- Gulliver’s Travels has a bulk sale.
- War and peace is loved by people.
Rule 9: Some nouns are always used in plural number with plural verb.
- His jeans are dirty.
- Stairs are used in malls.
- Riches are left on the Earth after the death.
- His orders were cancelled.
Nouns which are always used as plural number with plural verb
Jeans, Trousers, Pants, Breeches, Scales, Shears, Scissors, Spectacles, Alms, Thanks, Proceeds, Riches, Contents, Surroundings, Orders, Ashes, Credentials, Auspices, Refreshments, Savings, Requirements, Outskirts, Customs, Rations, Annals, Archives, Manners, Earnings, Quarters, Assets, Arrears, Spirit, Stairs.
Rule 10: In a COMPOUND NOUN, if a noun qualified by a quantitative adjective is used as an adjective of another noun then it is kept in singular form since adjectives are never used in plural forms.
- He ran a forty-mile race. (not miles)
- A hundred rupee note was laying these. (not rupees)
- We are planning a nine-day tour. (not days)
In the above examples, day, mile and rupee have been used as adjectives of tour, race and note respectively. Therefore they can’t be used in plural forms.
Some more examples
- Sonia is six year old.
- Sonia is a six year old girl.
- We went to nine shops of books.
- We went to nine book shops.
- Mr Tom has four boys as servants.
- Mr Tom has four boy servants.
However sometimes, depending upon the qualifier (or another quantitative adjective) the noun can be made plural.
- Ten fifty-rupee notes were given him as a reward.
- We are planning four ten-day tours this year.
Rule 11: Avoid using apostrophe with ’s’ if the noun is a non-living thing, but it can be used with living things, Time, Weight, Distance, Amount or with personified nouns.
- Bike’s tyre is old now. (Wrong)
- Tyre of the bike is old now. (Correct)
- Sheila must know time’s worth. (Wrong)
- Sheila must know the worth of time. (Correct)
- No one can change nature’s laws. (Wrong)
- No one can change the law of nature. (Correct)
Rule 12: If a singular noun is qualified, by two different adjectives then it is considered plural and used with a plural verb.
- A man and his wife have come here asking for work.
- Political and social value in India are changing these days.
- Rainy and winter sale are in vogue these days.
Rule 13: If same noun is to be used after and before a preposition then the noun remains singular.
- His health condition is improving day-by-day.
- I want paper to paper copied.
- He went door to door to sell products.
Rule 14: Some nouns have different usage when they are in singular and when they are in plural. To get some more clarity, observe the table below:
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