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The fluency of a language can be gauged by the ability to find mistakes and correct them. For this, one should be very clear with grammatical rules. We will be discussing sentence correction under the following heads:
Subject Verb Agreement. The verb and the subject must always agree in Number as well as in Person.
Two or more singular subjects when joined by ‘and’ require a plural verb.
Two or more singular subjects when joined by ‘or’or ‘nor’ require a singular verb.
Two or more nouns when qualified by ‘each’ and ‘every’ require a singular verb.
Words which are joined to a singular subject by ‘with’, ‘as well’ etc. require a singular verb.
A collective noun takes a singular verb when the collection is taken as a singular entity. A plural verb is used when they are taken as a collection of a number of entities.
‘Either’, ‘neither’ must be followed by a singular verb.
Some nouns which are plural in form but singular in meaning require a singular verb.
When a singular subject is separated from other subjects by a comma, it requires a singular verb.
Given below is an exercise to elucidate these rules. Correct the underlined words.
We now go onto sentence corrections related to modifiers.
Modifiers are of two types
She is a sweet girl. ( Sweet is the adjective)
The birds chirp sweetly in the springtime. ( Sweetly is the adverb, it describes how the birds chirp)
In most cases we can make the adverb by adding ‘-ly’ to the adjective. There are some exceptions to this rule
There are some cases where the adjective and the adverb are the same word:
There are some verbs, mainly the verbs of sense which are described by adjectives and not adverbs. These verbs of sense include the following
It would therefore be wrong to say that something tastes ‘deliciously’, the correct sentence would be
The lemon meringue tastes delicious.( Though tastes is a verb we are using an adjective to describe it)
She looked very good after returning from a holiday in the Alps.
The main point to be kept in mind is that the usage of adverbs and adjectives should not be confused. We can go through his exercise to understand the concept better. Correct the following sentences.
The pronoun being used depends on whether it is being used as the subject or the object of the sentence.
If the pronoun is the subject of the verb then ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘who’, ‘I’, ‘they’ and ‘we’ are used.
Glen was dressed marvellously. Here, since ‘Glen’ is the subject of the verb ‘dressed’ , the pronoun used would be ‘she’.
If the pronoun is used as an object then ‘him’, ‘her’, ‘whom’, ‘them’ and ‘us’ are used.
Wrong Usage: He took you and she out for dinner?
Correct Usage: He took you and her out for dinner
‘He’ is definitely the subject of the verb, whereas the other pronouns are objects.
A pronoun immediately after ‘than’ is usually in the objective case except when followed by a verb.
Usage of ‘who’ and ‘whom’
If the pronoun is a subject then ‘who’ is used and if the pronoun is an object then ‘whom’ is used.
It may be noted here that today, ‘who’ does replace ‘whom’ in spoken English, the differentiation being rigid only in formal English.
Possessive pronouns must agree in person and number
The following pronouns are singular in number:
These are plural:
Wrong Usage: Some of you will have to bring their own laptops.
Correct Usage: Some of you will have to bring your own laptops.
The indefinite pronoun ‘one’ should be used throughout
Wrong Usage: One should not believe everything he hears.
Correct Usage: One should not believe everything one hears.
The objects of the verb ‘to be’ are in subjective form
The word ‘which’ introduces non-essential clauses and ‘that’ introduces essential clauses. ‘Who’ refers to individuals; ‘that’ refers to a group of persons, class, type, or species.
Given below is an exercise to illustrate the usage of pronouns and their agreement with verbs. Correct the underlined words.
Comparisons here refer to those which can be logically made. We are not talking about comparing apples with oranges. Some key comparison words are
|less than||more than||other|
|that of||those of|
Wrong Usage : The teacher questioned the diligence of the math students compared to students of humanities.
Correct Usage : The teacher questioned the diligence of the math students compared to the diligence of the students of humanities.
The comparison has to be logical and two similar things should be compared, like the quality can be compared but we cannot compare a quality with a bunch of students. Following the same principle we have another example
Wrong Usage : The newer model weighed twenty grams less than the older one.
Correct Usage : The newer model weighed twenty grams less than the older one did.
OR The weight of the newer model was twenty grams less than the older one.
Following the rules mentioned above, correcting grammatically wrong sentences will not be very difficult. We can use a three- pronged strategy