Chapter 7. Functional Grammar – Communicative English for Engineers and Professionals


Functional Grammar

In this issue

“Ignorant people think it’s the noise which fighting cats make that is so aggravating, but it ain’t so; it’s the sickening grammar they use.”

–Mark Twain

7.1 Introduction

Grammar is the most discussed aspect of language learning and learners have different opinions about it. Some people are interested in learning the rules of grammar and solving numerous grammar exercises while others criticize grammar and feel that it is the dullest part of learning a new language. Whatever opinion you have, you cannot escape from grammar as it is the word for the rules of using a language. All of us need to understand and use grammar rules in the same way as we need rules in a game, traffic or an activity. If there are no rules or if everybody follows his/her own way, everything will end in chaos and confusion. Without learning the rules of a language, we will not be able to communicate properly with other people.

Experts in the business of teaching second language courses claim that the students, with little or no effort, may begin to speak the target language from the very first day. In this method, they teach students sets of words, phrases and sentences related to day-to-day situations under the direction of the teacher who carefully guides them through virtual conversations. However, this method inculcates the habit of speaking without understanding. An educated person is expected to read, write and speak well. Without the knowledge of grammar, even bright students have problems in writing as they repeat the same errors over and over, misspell words (despite “spell-check”), write incomplete sentences, give improper citations and referencing and do unintentional plagiarism. Most of the teachers and employers believe that the inability of students/employees to write clearly is a major problem.

Of course, we do not learn the rules of our mother tongue as we grow up but we do not make a grammatical mistake in its usage too. It is possible to learn a second language in the same natural way, if you have enough time and an appropriate atmosphere. Hence, one should understand grammar and notice the aspects that are the same as or similar to those in one’s language. If you notice grammar similarities and differences, you will probably learn the rules rather quickly. Reading a lot of English books as well as listening to correct and good English equips you with models of correct grammar that will definitely help you when you express your ideas in speaking or writing or when you come to check your work. Concentrate on the aspects of grammar you personally find most difficult and focus on them while writing, speaking or editing your work. Making mistakes reflects poor learning. Good English means correct English. The best way to learn a language is practicing the correct usage in real-life situations. Without grammar, language does not exist. A solid knowledge of all the rules is necessary to use a language well.

7.2 Correct Usage: Nouns

7.2.1 What is a Noun?

A noun is the name of a person, animal or living object, place, thing, action, feeling or quality. In other words, nouns are the naming words. For example: man, Kushal, girl, Nivedita, horse, Delhi, city, book, pencil, computer, hatred, greatness, sadness, honesty, etc.

7.2.2 Classification of Nouns

Basically, there are two types of nouns: abstract nouns and concrete nouns.

1. Abstract Nouns:    An abstract noun is something that can’t be sensed by our five senses, that is, smell, touch, hear, see or taste. Abstract nouns are the names of quality, action, state or the names of arts and sciences considered apart from the object to which they belong; such as auality—freshness, beauty, cowardice, intelligence; action—running, walking, robbery, growth; state—childhood, loneliness, happiness, slavery, poverty; the names of the arts and sciences—music, chemistry, physics, dramatics, etc.

2. Concrete Nouns:    Concrete nouns refer to those living and non-living objects that can be touched, felt, held, seen, smelt, tasted, or heard. Concrete nouns have objective reality. These nouns can further be classified into the following groups:

i) Proper Nouns:    A proper noun is the specific name of a place, person or thing. The first letter of a proper noun is always represented by a capital letter; such as people—Rachna, Karan, Tania, Mansi; places—Delhi, Agra, India, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh; months and days—January, February, Monday Wednesday; books—War and Peace, Arabian Nights, Communicative English for Engineers and Professionals, The Alchemist; Company—Microsoft, Amazon, Nike; title of the people—The President of India, The Mayor of Indore.

ii) Common Nouns:    ‘Common’ means ‘shared by’ or ‘belonging to all in a group.’ A common noun is a name given to every person or thing of the same kind or class; such as dog, house, picture, computer, table, woman, writer, etc. Common nouns may be used in the singular as well as the plural form and they are represented by lower case letters.

iii) Collective Nouns:    Collective nouns refer to things or people taken together or spoken as a collection, group or unit; such as family, police, class, team, crew, bunch, fleet, army, jury, etc.

iv) Material Nouns:    Material nouns are those nouns, which refer to the substance or the material that things can be made from; such as water, air, gas, cotton, oil, paint, coffee, tea, rice, etc.

7.2.3 Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Nouns can also be classified as countable and uncountable nouns. Countable nouns refer to those people or objects that can be counted, for example, pen, house, leader, apple, potato, etc. Proper nouns, common nouns and collective nouns belong to this category. Uncountable nouns are names of substances, materials, concepts, etc., that we cannot divide into separate elements. We cannot count them. For example, we cannot count rice but can count bags of rice. Some uncountable nouns are: air, water, milk, sugar, goodness, cruelty, faith, music, art, love, happiness, advice, information, news, furniture, luggage, rice, butter, electricity, gas, power, money, currency, etc. We usually use uncountable nouns in singular form. For example: ‘This news is very interesting.’ ‘The milk is in the jug.’ We neither use the indefinite article a/an with uncountable nouns nor do we represent them by a number. We cannot say ‘a sugar’ or ‘a luggage.’ However, we can say ‘a something of’: ‘a piece of news,’ ‘a bottle of milk,’ ‘a kilo of sugar,’ ‘three items of luggage’, etc.

7.2.4 Compound Nouns

Compound nouns are made up of two nouns. These nouns form their plurals by:

  • Adding s/es in the second element when both the words are nouns: boy friends, girl friends, toothbrushes, tea bushes.
  • Adding s/es in the main word of a compound noun formed with a preposition or a gerund: Sisters-in-law, men-of-war, lookers-on, runners-up, commanders-in-chief, professors-in-charge, ladies-in-waiting, walking-sticks, dressing tables, etc.
  • Making both the parts plurals when the first noun is ‘man’ or ‘woman’: men-servants, women-doctors, etc.

7.2.5 Possessive (Genitive) Case of Nouns Formation of Possessive Case

  • Possessive case is formed by adding (’s) to the singular noun or the plural noun not ending in s/es, for example, Ram’s book, child’s toy, women’s dresses, India’s army, etc.
  • Plural nouns ending in s/es form their possessives only by adding (’): a girls’ hostel, boys’ school, birds’ nest, workers’ union.
  • Proper nouns ending in s/es may use (’) or (’s) to form their possessives: Keats’s poems or Keats’ poems, Jones’s car or Jones’ car.
  • Compound nouns and the titles with several words form their possessive by adding (’s) to the last word: My sister-in-law’s house, her boy friend’s name, the Prime Minister’s visit, King George, the Eighth’s son, etc.
  • When two nouns are joined with ‘and’ and they show possession of the same person, place or object (’s) is added only to the second one. However, (’s) is added to both when they refer to different people, places or objects: Veena and Neena’s father is a doctor. Veena’a and Neena’s fathers are doctors. Use of Possessive Case

1. Show possession:

  • For people, countries and animals, for example, Rini’s book, horse’s hair, America’s President.
  • For ships and boats, for example, the ship’s deck, the boat’s sail.
  • For time expressions, for example, a week’s holiday, an hour’s journey, 10 minutes’ exercise.
  • For the expression of money, for example, a rupee’s value, a dollar’s worth.
  • For the expressions of distance: a mile’s race, the land’s end.
  • Words—house, shop, church, school—are not used after (’s) or (’). Today I’ll stay at my uncle’s. (house)
  • The use of double possessives is wrong: The guests of my wife’s brother (not my wife’s brother’s guests) are coming today.

2. Change letters, figures and abbreviations in plural:    all A’s, all 6’s, B.A.’ s, B. Tech.’s.

3. Form contractions: Do not—don’t, cannot—can’t, shall not—shan’t, will not—won’t, are not—aren’t, etc.

7.2.6 Correct Usage of Nouns

  1. Some nouns are singular in form but plural in sense and take a plural verb; such as cattle, gentry, peasantry, clergy, poultry, mankind, majority, etc. For example:
    • Cattle are grazing in the field.
    • The gentry of the show were good.
  2. Some nouns are plural in form but singular in meaning and take a singular verb; such as means, innings, news, mathematics, physics, economics, comics, summons, politics, optics, etc. For example:
    • That is great news.
    • Mathematics is an interesting subject.
    • They lost the match by an innings.
    • Summons has been sent to her to appear in the court.
    • Is there any means of contacting him?
  3. Some nouns are always used in plural form and take plural verbs only; such as spectacles, glasses, thanks, lodgings, clothes, orders, savings, compasses, tidings, premises, trousers, jeans, socks, shoes, goods, alms, breeches, credentials, customs, amends, annals, etc. For example:
    • Thanks are due to all those who worked hard for many months.
    • My clothes have been washed.
    • Big savings are made on fuel bills.
    • My spectacles were misted with fog and smoke.
  4. Some nouns are always used in singular form and take a singular verb only; such as information, scenery, knowledge, furniture, advice, machinery, stationery, abuse, issue, bedding, poetry, rice, sugar, mischief, abuse, wheat, dust, luggage, alphabet, expenditure, offspring, etc.
    • The scenery is magnificent.
    • Little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
    • He has no male issue.
    • The luggage is kept in the waiting room.
  5. Some nouns are used in the same form in singular as well as in plural; such as sheep, deer, fish, series, species, wages, etc.
    • Sheep were/was grazing in the fields.
    • Fish are abundant in the lake.
    • The fish has a lot of bones.
    • Wages have not increased for a long time.
    • Wages for the workers is very low.
  6. Nouns indicating length, weight, measurement, money or number remain unchanged when they are preceded by a numeral; such as a 10-foot high wall, a 10-kilo pack, a 5-rupee note, a 2-hour journey, a 3-year old, a 5-judge bench, 10-dozen egg, a 4-year course, etc. However, if the numeral added is indefinite, these nouns can be used in plural also; such as dozens of eggs, scores of times, hundreds of rupees, hours of entertainment, etc.
    • B. Tech. is a 4-year degree course.
    • A 5-judge bench was appointed to decide the case.
    • Hundreds of rupees were spent on the gift.
    • Dozens of eggs were used in making the New Year cake.
  7. Collective nouns—jury, committee, team, class, flock, audience, company, staff—are used as singular subjects when they refer to the whole unit or the group and as plural subjects when they refer to the individuals. For example:
    • The jury has given its verdict.
    • The jury have given their views about the case.
    • The flock of sheep is grazing in the field.
    • The flock were running here and there in the ground.
    • The audience was clapping to cheer the performers.
    • The audience were cheering the winners.
  8. Proper, material and abstract nouns are not used in plural sense when they refer to substance or material. For example:
    • This house is made of brick.
    • Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.
    • Each drop of water is precious.
    • Cotton is used to make bandages.

    When proper, common and material nouns are used in plural, they become common nouns; such as coppers = copper coins, tins = cans made of tins, woods = forest, waters = the water in a particular lake, river, sea or ocean, etc.

  9. Noun followed by a preposition and the same noun repeated takes a singular form and a singular verb: The old man had to go door to door asking for help.
  10. The subject ‘one of the’ is followed by plural noun: He is one of the best boys of his class.
  11. ‘Word’ when used in the sense of one’s promise, assurance or message does not take plural form and is not preceded by indefinite article: We should keep our word. He sent word (not a word) to me.

7.2.7 Common Errors in the Use of Noun Expressions

  1. Fifteen candidates sent their applications for lectureship.(not lecturership).
  2. Four students have applied for free studentship. (not freeship).
  3. My brother lives in a boarding house. (not boarding).
  4. Kinshuk and Anuj are the members of my family. (not my family members).
  5. Mrs. Gupta is our teacher of French. (not French teacher).
  6. Prashant and Kintu are my cousins. (not my cousin brothers).
  7. I want some blotting paper. (not blotting).
  8. We have got pass marks (not passing marks) in chemistry.
  9. My father is leaving by 12:15 train. (not by 12–15 o’clock train).
  10. Where did you spend summer vacation? (not vacations).

7.2.8 Nouns with Two Forms in Plural with Different Meanings

The following nouns have two forms in plural with different meanings:

  1. Brother – Brothers: Brothers by blood; Brethren: Members of a society or a community
  2. Cloth – Cloths: Pieces/kinds; Clothes: Garments
  3. Genius – Geniuses: Men and women having genius; Genii: Spirits
  4. Index – Indexes: Tables of contents; Indices: Alphabetical exponents
  5. Penny – Pennies: Separate coins; Pence: Collective sum
  6. Staff – Staves: Sticks; Staffs: Used only in military sense
  7. Die – Dies: Stamps for coining; Dice: Small cubes used in games

The above-mentioned words should be used carefully according to their meaning.

7.2.9 The Nouns with Different Meanings in Singular and Plural

Some nouns have different meanings in singular and plural forms; so, they should be used carefully.

  1. Circumstance: Facts; Circumstances: Conditions
  2. Air: Atmosphere; Airs: Affected behaviour
  3. Custom: Habit; Customs: Habits/Duties on goods
  4. Good: High quality; Goods: Commodities
  5. Iron: A metal; Irons: Fetters made of iron
  6. Respect: Regards; Respects: Compliments
  7. Physic: Medicine; Physics: Natural sciences
  8. Return: Come back; Returns: Statistics
  9. Sand: Particles of dust; Sands: Sea-shore
  10. Quarter: One-fourth; Quarters: Lodgings/fourth part
  11. Force: Strength; Forces: Army
  12. Content: satisfaction/substance; Contents: Things contained
  13. Pain: Ache; Pains: Efforts
  14. Minute: Sixty seconds; Minutes: Proceedings of a meeting
  15. Spectacle: Sight; Spectacles: Glasses
  16. Copper: A metal; Coppers: Coins made of coins
  17. Tin: A metal; Tins: Cans made of tin
  18. Wood: Material of tree trunk; Woods: Forest
  19. Light: Radiance; Lights: Lamps
  20. People: Nation/men and women; Peoples: Nations
  21. Study: The activity of learning or gaining knowledge; Studies: A particular person’s learning activities.


Correct the following sentences

  1. We read pages after pages.
  2. My uncle has no male issues.
  3. Most of the people feel that life is full of miseries and worries.
  4. Have you read the poetries of Browning?
  5. He has sold all of his furnitures.
  6. I have many works to do.
  7. The atom bomb did much damages in Japan.
  8. We have undergone great many difficulties.
  9. They built a house of stones.
  10. I am comfortable with my study.
  11. The judge passed order for his release.
  12. The road is closed for repair.
  13. They are walking in the centre of the road.
  14. Read two first chapters of the book.
  15. He is a man of his words.
  16. These news will create panic.
  17. My house’s roof is leaking.
  18. His English knowledge is very poor.
  19. He has read three fourth of the novel.
  20. I saw a snake crawling on the ground in the room.

7.3 Correct Usage: Pronouns

7.3.1 What is a Pronoun?

The word ‘pronoun’ means ‘for a noun.’ Pronouns are the words, which are used in place of nouns. They are used to avoid repetition of nouns such as ‘Kamayani is a good girl, she is very hard working’, etc. Nevertheless, a fresh paragraph should not start with a pronoun; it should start with a noun.

7.3.2 Classification of Pronouns

Pronouns are of nine types – Personal, Reflexive, Emphatic, Demonstrative, Indefinite, Interrogative, Relative, Reciprocal and Distributive.

1. Personal Pronouns:    Personal pronouns refer to persons; I person, the speaker—I, we; II person the person spoken to—you and III person, the person spoken of—he, she, it, they. Personal pronouns have various forms.


A summary of the forms of the personal pronouns is listed in the table given below.

2. Reflexive Pronouns:    A reflexive pronoun refers or reflects back to the subject of the sentence or the clause. Reflexive pronouns end in ‘-self’ (singular) or ‘-selves’ (plural). There are eight reflexive pronouns formed from the personal pronouns: Singular—myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself and plural—ourselves, yourselves, themselves.

The verbs—absent, present, avail, apply, exert, enjoy, cut, hurt, oversleep, etc.—should be followed by reflexive pronouns:

  • Ram absented himself from the class.
  • He availed himself of the opportunity.
  • They all enjoyed themselves at the party.
  • He has hurt himself while running.

3. Emphatic Pronouns:    All the above-mentioned reflexive pronouns can also act as emphatic pronouns but their function and usage are different. An emphatic pronoun emphasizes its antecedent. For example:

  • I myself made it.
  • Ramesh himself is to blame.
  • She herself spoke to me.
  • The examination itself wasn’t difficult, but examination room was horrible.

4. Demonstrative Pronouns:    A demonstrative pronoun points out, indicates, shows or demonstrates persons, places, amounts or things such as:

  • near in distance or time (this, these)
  • far in distance or time (that, those)

5. Indefinite Pronouns:    An indefinite pronoun does not refer to any specific person, thing or amount. It is vague and is used for people and objects in a general way. Some indefinite pronouns are: all, another, any, anybody/anyone, anything, each, everybody/everyone, everything, few, many, nobody, none, one, several, some, somebody/someone.

6. Interrogative Pronouns:    Interrogative pronouns ask questions about people or objects we do not know. There are four main interrogative pronouns: who, whom, what, which. Possessive form of ‘who’—‘whose’ and compounds of ‘who, ‘what’ and ‘which’—‘whoever,’ ‘whatever’ and ‘whichever’ are also used to show emphasis, confusion or surprise. ‘Who’ is used for persons only, ‘what’ is used for things only while ‘which’ can be used for both persons as well as objects, for example:

  • Who spoke to you yesterday?
  • Which is your friend?
  • Which book do you like the most?
  • What have you done?

7. Relative Pronouns:    A relative pronoun refers or relates to some noun or pronoun going before it or in other words its antecedent. Words, who, whose, whom, which, that and what are relative pronouns. For example:

  • The person who called me last night is my teacher.
  • These are the students whom we praise.
  • This is the girl whose exercises are done well.
  • The book which I bought yesterday is very useful.
  • Take anything that you like.
  • I say what I mean.
  1. The relative pronoun, ‘who’ is used for persons and ‘which’ is used for objects:
    • This is the boy who came here yesterday.
    • Give me the book which I gave you.
  2. The relative pronoun, ‘that’ is used for persons as well as objects and it may refer to singular as well as plural numbers:
    • This is the boy that I told you of.
    • I know the house that he has bought.
  3. ‘That’ is used after the adjectives in superlative degree, interrogative pronouns and words such as all, nothing, none, only, same, anything, anybody, nobody:
    • Raheem is the kindest man that has ever lived in the village.
    • What is that troubles you?
    • All that glitters is not gold.
    • There is nothing that is farther from truth.
    • I don’t say anything that can hurt others.
    • There is nobody that can help me.
    • Man is the only animal that has intelligence.
  4. ‘That’ is used after two antecedents when one of them is a human being and the other one is an object or an animal:
    • The lady and her dog that I saw yesterday have gone.


  5. A relative pronoun should agree with its antecedent in gender, number and person and it should be placed near it, like for example:
    • It is he who is to blame.
    • The boy who came here yesterday is my brother. (Not the boy is my brother who came here yesterday.)
  6. If the pronoun has two or more antecedents, the relative pronoun should be used according to the nearest one:
    • I respect anyone and anything that reminds me of my attainments.
    • I like everything and everyone who helps me in progress.
  7. ‘Same’ is followed by ‘as’ whereas, ‘such’ may be followed by ‘that’ or ‘as’:
    • Such students as avoid hard work always suffer.
    • This is the same necklace as I bought yesterday.
    • He gave such an example that no one liked.

8. Reciprocal Pronouns:    The word, ‘reciprocal’ is an adjective which means ‘given or done in return.’ Reciprocal pronouns express mutual or reciprocal relationship. Each other and one another are reciprocal pronouns. ‘Each other’ is used for two persons and ‘one another’ is used for more than two, for example:

  • The two sisters love each other.
  • Ten prisoners were blaming one another.

9. Distributive Pronouns:    Distributive pronouns refer to persons or things taken one at a time. For this reason, they are always singular and are followed by a singular verb. There are three distributive pronouns: each, either and neither. ‘Each’ is used to denote every one of persons or things; ‘either’ means one or the other of two and ‘neither’ indicates not the one or the other of two. ‘Either’ and ‘neither’ should be used when we speak of two persons, places or things. When more than two are referred to, ‘any,’ ‘no one’ and none’ should be used.

7.3.3 Correct Usage of Pronouns

  1. When a personal pronoun is used instead of a noun, it must have of the same number, gender and person as the noun it stands for:
    • All the students were supposed to bring their notebooks.
    • Joy has got his ticket.
    • Mansi left her laptop at home.
    • We had had our dinner.
  2. A pronoun used to represent two singular nouns joined by ‘and’ should be plural in number:
    • Swati and Shweta have finished their work.


    Note: If two nouns joined by ‘and’ refer to the same subject, the pronoun should be singular:

    • Our teacher and warden is not doing his duty.
    • My teacher and guide has given me his best.
  3. Two nouns joined by ‘and’ preceded by ‘each’ or ‘every’ are treated as singular:
    • Each boy and each girl has to be prepared for the test.
    • Every man and every woman was doing the job very well.
  4. When two or more singular nouns are joined by ‘or’,‘nor’,‘either—or’,‘neither—nor, the pronouns should be used in singular:
    • Rajesh or Ramesh has given me his book.
    • Neither Ram nor his friend has done his work.

    Note: If one singular and the other plural nouns are joined by ‘or,’ ‘nor’ ‘either—or’, ‘neither—nor, the pronoun used for them must be plural:

    • Neither the officer nor his assistants di d their duty.


  5. According to etiquettes, when pronouns of different persons are used together, second person comes first, third person second and first person comes last:
    • Jasmine and I went on a picnic.
    • You and Jyoti can leave now.
    • You and Gopal and I can do this together.
    • You, he and I have to attend a party tonight.

    However, if the pronouns are in plural or some fault is to be admitted, the first person comes first, the second person comes second and the third person comes last:

    • We, you and they have to leave now.
    • I, you and he are equally to blame.
  6. A pronoun followed by a preposition should be used in its objective form, for example, me, us, them, etc.:
    • Between you and me, I don’t trust him (not between you and I …).
    • This is for you and him (not you and he.).
  7. Pronouns used after ‘Let’ should take an objective form:
    • Let him do it.
    • Let them find the solution.
  8. When ‘but’ is used as a preposition, it means ‘except.’ The pronoun following the preposition ‘but’ must be in the objective form:
    • Everybody came but him.
    • None but me could solve the problem.
  9. ‘Than’ and ‘as’ are conjunctions joining two clauses. The pronoun followed by ‘than’ and ‘as’ should be used in the same case as the pronoun preceding it:
    • He is taller than she (is).
    • I know you better than he (knows you).
    • You helped me as much as he.
    • I trust you as much as she.

    Examples such as ‘I know you better than him. (I know him)’ and ‘I trust you as much as her. (I trust her)’ are also correct.

  10. Pronouns used as the complements of the verb ‘to be’ – is, are, am, was, were – should be in subjective form:
    • It is he.
    • This is I.
  11. The possessive form of the pronoun, ‘one’ is ‘one’s’ and its reflexive form is ‘oneself’:
    • One should do one’s duty (not his duty).


  12. ‘Everybody,’ ‘everyone,’ ‘each one,’ ‘someone,’ ‘anyone,’ ‘anybody’ are followed by ‘his’ or ‘her’ not ‘one’s’:
    • Everybody is doing his best.
    • Someone has given me his book.
    • Anyone can get his health checked up in the hospital.
    • Each one should have his share in success.
  13. Possessive forms of pronouns—my, our, his, her, its, their, your—are used as possessive adjectives only, that is, they are followed by a noun, for example:
    my book, your pen, his mobile, your shoes
  14. Possessive pronouns—mine, ours, yours, hers, his, theirs—are not followed by nouns, for example:
    • This book is mine.
    • That coat is yours.
  15. A pronoun used for a collective noun should be placed in singular number, neuter gender if the noun conveys the idea of a group and in plural number if it refers to the members individually:
    • The army has decided to disobey its commander.
    • The jury were divided in their opinion.
  16. If subject of the sentence are nouns/pronouns of the first person and any of the two persons, the possessive pronoun will be in the first person. If the subject is the second person and the third person, possessive pronoun will be in the second person:
    • You and I have done our duty.
    • You and he have done your work.
  17. Use of ‘It’: The pronoun ‘It’ is used:
    1. For inanimate objects: This is my car, I love it.
    2. For small animals, birds and insects:
      • This is a cat. It is white.
      • There is a bird in the sky. It is flying high in the sky.
      • There is a fly in the soup. Take it out.
    3. For little children when sex is not clearly pointed out: The baby is crying. It is hungry.
    4. For facts and statements which have already been referred to: He answered the question as he knew it.
    5. As an imaginary subject of the verb ‘to be’ when the real subject comes later: It is difficult to solve this problem.
    6. To emphasize a noun or a pronoun: It was he who came late.
    7. Used as a subject in the sentences referring to time and weather:
      • It is two o’clock.
      • It is very cold today.

7.3.4 Some Common Errors in the Use of Pronouns

  1. There is no need to use a pronoun when the noun it stands for is already present in the clause:
    • The boy who works hard will win. (Not ‘The boy who works hard he will win.’)
    • Whoever does the best will get a prize. (Not ‘Whoever does the best he will get a prize.’)
  2. An emphatic pronoun (e.g., myself, himself, themselves, yourself) cannot be used as the subject of a sentence:
    • Who did it? I. (Not Myself.)
    • I am Mr. Karan Lal. (Not ‘Myself, Mr. Karan Lal.’)
  3. The noun ‘people’ is plural in number. The pronoun used for it should be plural in number:
    • People starve when they have (Not he has) no money.


  4. While comparing the same part of two things we should be careful in making the correct comparison and should use ‘that of,’ ‘these of’ and ‘those of’ which are often omitted by the students:
    • My car is better than that of my friend. (Not…better than my friend.)
    • The size of the dress should be the same as that of this one. (Not…as this one.)
    • His teaching was like that of Buddha. (Not …like Buddha.)
  5. The pronouns—its, yours, ours, hers, theirs—should not be used with apostrophe (’). ‘It’s’ means ‘it is’, but, ‘her’s’, ‘your’s’ and ‘their’s’ are wrong expressions:
    • I am yours sincerely. (Not your’s sincerely)


  6. A relative pronoun is a conjunction. No other conjunction should be used with it:
    • He gave me a present which (Not ‘but which’) I did not like it.


  7. Pronouns of the third person plural number are not used as antecedents of a relative pronoun:
    • Those (Not ‘they’) who are wise do not waste their time in gossiping.


  8. ‘How’ is an adverb and it cannot function as a relative pronoun:
    • This is the principle on which we solved this sum. (Not…how we have solved the sum.)


  9. Objective form of a pronoun should not be used in place of possessive form:
    • I don’t like your coming late. (Not …you coming late.)


  10. ‘Whose’ cannot refer to inanimate objects:
    • This is the decision the wisdom of which is questionable. (Not…whose wisdom…)



Correct the following sentences:

  1. Whom do you think will be our next captain?
  2. Two brothers love one another.
  3. One should respect his parents.
  4. Everyone did their job.
  5. Every poet and every artist was in their seat.
  6. This is the mobile whose price is reasonable.
  7. He went there and enjoyed.
  8. Radha absented from the college yesterday.
  9. Let you and I go.
  10. This is between you and I.
  11. The man who came here this evening he was my uncle.
  12. Life is such a problem which cannot be solved easily.
  13. Any of these two cameras will serve the purpose.
  14. None of these cameras are yours.
  15. If I were him, I would not make this mistake.
  16. I don’t like you coming late.
  17. Mohan objected to me being late.
  18. Being a rainy day we decided to take rest.
  19. The man is my friend who called on me yesterday.
  20. You and I have received your lesson.
  21. He and myself went to get the seat reserved.
  22. I, you and he will go to market.
  23. One should respect his elders.
  24. I availed of the opportunity.
  25. The boys which are found guilty will be punished.

7.4 Correct Usage: Adjectives

7.4.1 What are Adjectives?

Adjectives are the describing words. They modify a noun or a pronoun, give more information and observation about it, describe its colour, material, shape, size, amount, price, quality, origin, personality, weight, temperature, age, direction, etc., and clarify the subject that is doing it. Adjectives don’t have a singular and plural form or a masculine, feminine or neuter gender.

7.4.2 Classification of Adjectives

There are mainly six types of adjectives:

  • Numeric: six, one, hundred, first, second, several
  • Quantitative: more, all, some, half, much, less, little, some, enough, great
  • Qualitative: colour, size, smell, weary, worn, etc
  • Distributive: each, every, either, neither
  • Interrogative: which, whose, what
  • Demonstrative: this, that, those, these, yonder

Remember:    The articles—a, an and the—and the possessives—my, our, your and their— are also adjectives. Present participles and past participles are also used as adjectives: tiring journey, irritating habit, loaded goods, outdated customs, etc.

7.4.3 Degrees of Comparison There are three degrees of comparison: positive, comparative and superlative:

  • All monosyllabic and some disyllabic words may be changed into comparative and superlative degrees by adding ‘-er’ or ‘-est’, respectively: soft-softer-softest, high-higher-highest, wise-wiser-wisest, thin-thinner-thinnest, etc.
  • Adjectives ending in ‘y’ preceded by a consonant change into comparatives and superlatives by adding ‘-ier’ or ‘-iest’, respectively: Holy-holier-holiest, ugly-uglier-ugliest, silly-sillier-silliest, lovely-lovelier-loveliest, etc.
  • Adjectives ending in ‘y’ preceded by a vowel change into comparatives and superlatives by adding ‘-er’ and ‘-est’: gray-grayer-grayest.
  • Most of the disyllabic and all the words with more than two syllables use ‘more’ and ‘most’ in comparative and superlative forms: intelligent-more intelligent-most intelligent, honest-more honest-most honest. Uses of the Degrees of Comparison:

  1. Positive Degree is Used:
    • To talk about one person or object: He is a good boy. This is a useful book.
    • To show equality using ‘as’—adjective—‘as’: That book is as expensive as the other one.
    • To show inequality using ‘not as’—adjective—‘as’: Hari is not as intelligent as his brother.
    • To show comparison between two actions: Walking is as difficult as running in this weather. It is as difficult to read as to write in dim light.
  2. Comparative Degree is Used:
    • To compare one object or person with another using ‘than’: He is wiser than his sister.
    • To show parallel increase or decrease using ‘the’: The higher you go the colder it gets. The more we earn, the more we spend.
    • To denote gradual decrease or increase using ‘and’: He is working harder and harder. The patient was becoming weaker and weaker.
  3. Superlative Degree is Used:
    • To express the highest degree of something or someone using the + superlative + of/in: She is the most beautiful girl of/in her class.


7.4.4 Correct Use of Some Adjectives

1. Some, Any:

Both ‘some’ and ‘any’ may be used to talk about degree or quantity. ‘Some’ is used in affirmative sentences and ‘any’ is used in negative and interrogative sentences:

  • I need some water.
  • Is there any juice in the mug?
  • No, I don’t have any books.

Remember: ‘Some’ may be used in questions expressing commands or requests:

  • Will you get me some milk?


2. Each, Every:

‘Each’ is used when we talk about two or more persons or objects and ‘every’ is used for more than two persons or objects. ‘Each’ is preferred when the group consists of a definite number of people or things and ‘every’ when the group consists of an indefinite number:

  • Last week I practiced vocabulary each day.
  • Every member gave his best to the institution.

‘Every’ may be used with abstract nouns while ‘each’ is not used with abstract nouns.

  • We have every chance of attaining success. (Not …each chance of attaining success.)


‘Every’ is be used with numbers. ‘Each’ is not used with numbers.

  • The bus for Delhi leaves every 15 minutes.


3. Either, Neither:

‘Either’ means ‘one or the other of two.’ ‘Neither’ means ‘not one nor the other of two.’

‘Neither’ means ‘not either’:

  • I don’t like either dress. = I like neither dress.

‘Either’ can also mean ‘each of the two’:

  • The road was covered with green trees on the either side.


4. Either, One:

‘Either’ is used to refer to two persons or objects and ‘one’ is used for more than two persons or objects:

  • You may choose either of the two options.
  • One of my friends lives in Bangalore.

5. Neither, None:

We use ‘neither’ to refer to two persons or objects and ‘none’ to talk about more than two persons or objects:

  • You can have neither of the two prizes.
  • You can have none of the three prizes.

6. Nearest, Next:

‘Nearest’ indicates distance or space while ‘next’ indicates position or order. ‘Next’ can also mean ‘immediately following’:

  • The nearest hospital in this area is about five kilometres away.
  • I was waiting for the next candidate to come.
  • The next lecture is on Monday.

7. Elder, Eldest; Older, Oldest:

‘Elder’ and ‘eldest’ are used to refer to the members of the same family. ‘Older’ and ‘oldest’ may be used to refer to people, in general, as well as objects:

  • She is my elder sister.
  • My eldest son is an engineer.
  • This is the oldest tree in the garden.
  • He is the oldest person in the village.

Remember: ‘Elder’ is not followed by ‘than’; it is followed by ‘to’ while ‘older’ is followed by than:

  • He is older than his sister.
  • This building is older than the other one.

8. Later, Latter, Latest, Last:

‘Later’ and ‘latest’ refer to time; ‘latter’ and ‘last’ denote position.

‘Later’ means ‘afterwards’ or ‘soon after’:

  • We decided to discuss the issue later.


‘Latest’ means ‘newest’:

  • I have bought the latest edition of the book.


‘Latter’ means ‘second of the two.’

  • Of singing and dancing, I like the latter.


‘Last’ means ‘final’ or ‘the most recent one’:

  • He was the last one to enter the hall.


9. A little, Little, the Little:

‘A little,’ ‘little’ and ‘the little’ are used with uncountable nouns. ‘A little’ means ‘some’; ‘little’ means hardly any’ and ‘the little’ means ‘not much but all of that much.

  • There is a little water in the bottle. (some water)
  • There is little water in the bottle. (hardly any water)
  • He drank the little water left in the bottle. (not much water was left in the bottle, but he drank the whole of it)

10. A few, Few, the Few:

‘A few,’ ‘few’ and ‘the few’ are used with countable nouns. ‘A few’ means ‘some’; ‘few’ means ‘hardly any’; ‘the few’ means ‘not many, but all of them’:

  • I have a few friends. (some friends)
  • I have few friends. (hardly any friends)
  • I have lost touch with the few friends I had. (I didn’t have a lot of friends, but I have lost touch with all of them)

11. Much, Many:

‘Much’ is used with uncountable nouns and ‘many’ with countable nouns:

  • I have many friends.
  • There isn’t much food left.

12. Many, Many a, A Great Many:

‘Many’ means ‘numerous’; ‘many a’ is singular in use but plural in sense while ‘a great many’ means ‘in large numbers’:

  • I have read many books on this subject.
  • Many a girl has cleared IIT entrance this year.
  • A great many people attended the function.

13. First, Foremost:

‘First’ indicates ‘order’ while ‘foremost’ indicates ‘prominence’:

  • Mrs. Pratibha Patil is the first woman President of India.
  • The problem of female foeticide has been foremost in our minds recently.

14. Further, Farther:

‘Further’ means ‘additional’ while ‘farther’ means ‘at a greater distance in space, direction or time’:

  • Have you any further questions?
  • Let us walk a little farther.

15. Utmost, Uttermost, Outermost:

‘Utmost’ means ‘extreme in highest degree’; ‘uttermost’ means ‘remote or the most distant’ while ‘outermost’ means ‘farthest from the centre’:

  • Ragging in the colleges is a matter of utmost importance.
  • With a telescope we can see the uttermost stars of the galaxy.
  • The outermost wall of the house was beautifully decorated.

16. Less, Lesser:

‘Less’ and ‘lesser’ mean ‘not as great as the other in size number, duration, measurement’, etc. However, ‘less’ is followed by ‘than while ‘lesser’ is not followed by ‘than:’

  • People of lesser importance have no say in decision taking.
  • We will be there in less than thirty minutes. (Not … lesser than thirty minutes)

17. Less, Fewer:

We use ‘fewer’ when talk about the countable and ‘less’ to talk about the measurable quantity or the uncountable. However, we use ‘less’ while referring to statistical or numerical expressions too:

  • No fewer than five hundred people were present at the ceremony.
  • It is less than two hundred kilometres to Delhi.
  • He is less than six feet tall.
  • The price of English book is less than that of chemistry.

18. All, Whole:

‘All’ refers to ‘the whole number of or ‘the whole amount of’ whereas, ‘whole’ refers to quantity or amount:

  • The whole milk was wasted.
  • All his friends helped him in times of need.
  • All his money was utilized properly.

19. Mutual, Common:

‘Mutual’ means ‘reciprocal’ while ‘common’ means ‘belonging to two or more people in a group:’

  • Husband and wife share mutual understanding, love and respect.
  • All the members of my family share a common interest in photography.

20. Oral, Verbal:

‘Oral’ means ‘spoken or delivered by mouth’ rather written while ‘verbal’ means ‘related to words’:

  • An oral message is not given much importance.
  • There is no verbal difference between the two statements.

21. Due to, Owing to:

‘Due to’ is an adverbial complement which means ‘caused by’ while ‘owing to’ is a prepositional phrase which means, ‘because of’ and is used in the beginning of a sentence:

  • The team’s success was largely due to her efforts.
  • Owing to his poor health, he could not qualify athletics trials.

7.4.5. Common Errors in the Use of Adjectives

  1. The adjectives ending in ‘or’—inferior, superior, junior, senior, exterior, interior, prior, major, minor—are already in the comparative form, hence, they cannot be changed into comparative degree and are not followed by ‘than’:
    • This cloth is inferior to that in quality. (Not…inferior than…)
    • I am senior to you. (Not…senior than you)
    • There were calls for major changes to the welfare system. (Not…more major changes…)
  2. The adjectives—elder, former, likely, preferably, certain, sure, next, inner, utter—are also not followed by ‘than’ rather they are followed by ‘to’:
    • Tea is preferable to coffee. (Not preferable than…)
    • He is elder to me. (Not elder than…)
  3. If comparison is made by using ‘other’ we use ‘than’ instead of ‘but’:
    • He turned out to be none other than my old colleague. (…not none other but…)


  4. The adjectives—ideal, perfect, unique, supreme, extreme, chief, complete, universal, entire, eternal, unanimous, infinite, round, impossible, perpetual—are not used in comparative/superlative degree:
    • Ms Gulati is an ideal teacher. (Not …the most ideal teacher)
    • This is a unique occasion. (Not…the most unique occasion)
  5. Double comparatives should not be used:
    • An elephant is stronger than any other animal. (Not more stronger than…)
    • He is happier today. (Not more happier…)
  6. While comparing two qualities of the same person, the adjectives should be used in ‘more/less forms’ and adjectives in ‘-er/-est forms’ should not be used even if they can be changed into comparatives and superlatives using the said forms:
    • He is more wise than good.
    • She is more smart than lovely.
  7. While using the comparative form to express selection from the two of the same kind or class, the comparative adjective is preceded by ‘the’ and is followed by ‘of the’ instead of ‘than’:
    • Ramesh is the stronger of the two boys. (Not… stronger than…)
    • Kalyani is the more beautiful of the two girls. (Not…more beautiful than…)
  8. Never use ‘the both pens’, or ‘your both eyes’ because the correct word order is ‘both the pens’ or ‘both your eyes’:
    • Ram was present on both the occasions. (Not ….on the both occasions.)
    • Both of my friends came to attend my birthday. (Not My both friend…)
  9. While using two adjectives—one of which is changed into comparative and superlative adding ‘-er/-est form’ and the other one by adding ‘more/most form’—in comparative or superlative degree, the adjective in ‘-er/-est form’ should be used first and the adjective with ‘more/ most form’ should be used later:
    • She is wiser and more beautiful than her sister. (Not …more beautiful and wiser…)
    • He is kinder and more honest than any other person in the family. (Not …more honest and kinder…)
  10. If two qualities of the same person or object are compared with something or somebody, both the adjectives should be used either in comparative or superlative degree:
    • This is the safest and shortest of all the routes. (Not safest and shorter…)
    • She is more beautiful and more intelligent than her friends. (Not more beautiful and intelligent…)
  11. Comparative form + than + any should be followed by other + singular noun:
    • He is smarter than any other boy in the class. (Not…smarter than any boys…)
    • She speaks more fluently than any other girl in her group. (Not…more fluently than any other girls…)
  12. Comparative form + than+ all/ most should be followed by other + plural nouns:
    • Rohit writes more clearly than all/most other girls in her family. (Not …most/all other girl…)
    • This idea is more useful than all/most other ideas expressed in the book. (Not …all/most other idea…)
  13. Adjective ‘worth’ is used after the word it qualifies:
    • This is a book worth reading. (Not …worth reading book…)
    • The Taj is a building worth seeing. (Not …worth seeing building…)
  14. In some cases, comparison is very subtle. One should use it carefully:
    • The climate of Indore is better than that of Delhi. (Not …better than Delhi…)
    • The roads of Haryana are better than those of Madhya Pradesh. (…Not better than Madhya Pradesh…)
    • My book is less expensive than yours. (Not less expensive than you.)


Correct the following sentences:

  1. He left the college latest of all.
  2. No less than 60 students attended the class.
  3. He is wiser than kind.
  4. Tea is more preferable than coffee.
  5. This is the most ideal couple.
  6. He is the oldest of my uncle’s 3 sons.
  7. He is so cunning as his sister.
  8. She is weaker than any girl in the class.
  9. He is more cleverer than any other boy.
  10. She is comparatively weaker in English.
  11. We met him prior than his departure.
  12. He is the ablest and kind person in the village.
  13. Mr. Gupta is the most ideal professor.
  14. Put a few fuel on the fire.
  15. Many a boys were present there.
  16. He came latter than I.
  17. What is the last score.
  18. I work whole day.
  19. He has a strong headache.
  20. He works on a less salary.
  21. I have not any friends.
  22. The 2 first chapters of the book are very difficult.
  23. Mohit is my fast enemy.
  24. The enemy is becoming weak day by day.
  25. Gold, silver or lead which is more precious?
  26. Give me six and a half rupees.
  27. Of the two prices buy the least expensive.
  28. Choose the least of the two evils.

7.5 Correct Usage: Articles

The demonstrative adjectives—a, an and the—are called articles. ‘A/an’ is the mild form of ‘any’ while ‘the’ is that of ‘this.’

There are two types of articles: indefinite articles: ‘a’ and ‘an’; and definite article: ‘the.’ The indefinite articles ‘a/an’ points out some indefinite person, place or object while the definite article ‘the’ points out some particular person, place or object. For example: ‘A boy came to me yesterday’—means ‘any boy.’ ‘The boy gave me a book’—here the boy is specific, that is, ‘The same boy who came to me yesterday.’

A or an: ‘A’ is used before the words beginning with consonant sounds while ‘an’ is used before the words and abbreviations beginning with vowel sounds: a book, a pen, a woman, a university, a one-rupee note, a European, a yard, an orange, an apple, an enemy, an ass, an MLA., an SO., an heir, an honest man, an hour, etc.

7.5.1 Use of Indefinite Article

The indefinite article ‘a/an’ is used:

  1. In the numeric sense of ‘one’: He has a book in his hand.
  2. In the sense of ‘any’: A degree can’t help a man these days.
  3. In the vague sense of ‘someone’: One evening a girl came to me.
  4. Before a proper noun used as a common noun: Today a Shakespeare has come to our college.
  5. In the sense of ‘per/every’: He is getting 20,000/a month.
  6. In the sense of ‘the same’: The birds of a feather flock together.
  7. With ‘few’ and ‘little’ to refer to small amount or small number, respectively: A few books, a little milk, etc.
  8. Between an adjective and a noun if the adjective is preceded by an adverb like, so, how, too, such, quite, etc.: so good a boy, too clever a man, how nice a picture, such a great person, quite a few mistakes, etc.

7.5.2 Use of Definite Articles The definite article ‘the’ is used before nouns if they are:

  1. Names of seas, oceans, gulfs, rivers, bays and canals: The Arabian Sea, The Indian Ocean, The Persian Gulf, The Ganges, The Thames, The Bay of Bengal, The Sahara Canal, etc.
  2. Names of dates and seasons: The 15th August, the 26th January, March the first, the winter, the autumn, the spring, etc.
  3. Names of famous buildings, deserts, plains, group of islands, mountain ranges: The Town Hall, The Kutub Minar, The Thar Desert, The Indo-Gangetic Plain, The West Indies, The Himalayas, etc.
  4. Names of well-known historical events: The Battle of Panipat, The Renaissance, etc.
  5. Names of countries and provinces if they are descriptive, that is, include words such as republic, nations and kingdom: The United States, The United Kingdom, The Irish Republic, the Uttar Pradesh, etc.
  6. Names of famous newspapers, journals, magazines and religious books: The Hindustan Times, The Times of India, The Illustrated Weekly, The Indian Review, The Vedas, The Bhagwat Geeta, The Bible, etc.
  7. Names of posts or titles of honour and rank: The Principal, the Director, the Honourable Mr. Ghosh, The Rev Mr. Patil, etc.
  8. Names of ships, airplanes, community or party: The Titanic, The Carpathian, The Boeing 707, The Hindu, The English, The Congress, the Republican Party, etc.
  9. Names of planets and things unique of their kind: The earth, the mars, the sun, the sea, the sky, the ocean, etc.
  10. Names of musical instruments: The flute, the sitar, etc.
  11. A common noun used in the sense of an abstract idea: He felt the poet rise within him. (poet-like feelings)
  12. A singular noun which refers to a particular person, place or thing: I have lost the book you gave me yesterday.
  13. A proper, material or abstract noun if emphasis is laid upon it:
    • I have invited the Guptas to dinner.
    • He is the Banerji, I was talking about.
    • This is the proper time to do it.
    • This is the right occasion to help the victims.
  14. Proper nouns in metaphorical sense:
    • Kalidas is the Shakespeare of India.
    • Mumbai is the Manchester of India.
  15. Before the names of directions when a preposition is added:
    • We were going to the north.
    • They started their journey to the west.

    However, ‘the’ should not be used if there is no preposition. The definite article ‘the’ is used for adjectives:

  1. To make them plural nouns: The weak, the noble, the strong, the wicked.
  2. To represent an abstraction: The good, the unknown, the unbelievable, the beauty, etc.
  3. To denote a nationality: The Irish, the French, The German, The Greek, etc.
  4. Before ordinal numbers: The first, the second, the last, the ninth, etc.
  5. Before comparative form of adjectives expressing a proportion between two states of mind or two circumstances:
    • The sooner a thing is done, the better it is.
    • The more they get the more they demand.
    • The more, the merrier.
  6. Before the adjectives in superlative degree:
    • Nivedita is the best singer of her college.
    • Kushal is the best player of his class.

7.5.3 Omission of the Articles

No article should be used before:

  1. Material and abstract nouns: wisdom, kindness, health, sugar, rice, oil, tea, coffee, etc.
  2. Plural countable nouns used in general sense:
    • People love children.
    • Computers are used in many offices.
  3. Proper nouns: names of people, cities, countries, individual mountains/hills, islands and lakes, etc.: Rini, Rakhi, Delhi, Agra, India, America, Mount Everest, Mount Abu, Cylone, Java, lake Sambhar, lake Chilka, etc.
  4. Names of months and days: Monday, Tuesday, January, February, etc.
  5. Names of the meals used in general sense: lunch, dinner, breakfast, tea, etc.
  6. Names of certain places visited for their primary purpose: school, college, church, bed, table, hospital, market, prison, etc.
  7. Names of languages: Hindi, English, Sanskrit, Punjabi, etc.

    Please note: English = English language; The English = English people.

  8. Names of relations: father, mother, uncle, aunt, cook, nurse, etc.
  9. Name of a famous/religious book preceded by the name of its author: Valmiki’s’ Ramayan, Homer’s Odyssey, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Milton’s Paradise Lost, etc.
  10. Names of subjects: biology, physical education, painting, drawing, history, etc.
  11. Names of title/rank/profession used as a complements or in apposition to the person holding them:
    • Mr. T. K. Singh was chosen Chairman of the trust.
    • Ms. Sharma became Principal of this school in 2002.
    • Mr. Gupta, Principal of the college met me yesterday.
    • Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India is very popular among the people.
  12. Common nouns used in pairs in a sentence:
    • The old man had to go door to door asking for help.
    • Husband and wife complement each other.
  13. Common noun after ‘kind of’ or ‘species of’: worst kind of teacher, best kind of woman, rare species of bird, etc.
  14. Common nouns used as nominative address: Ladies and gentlemen, Come here, boy. Listen girls!
  15. Superlative form preceded by a possessive adjective or used for address: My best friend, my loveliest gift, O, my dearest son, O, kindest creature, etc.

7.5.4 Repetition of Articles

  1. When two adjectives qualify two different nouns, article should be used before both of them. However, it should be used before the first one only if two adjectives qualify the same noun:
    • I bought a yellow and a black clock. (Two clocks, one yellow and the other black)
    • I bought a yellow and black clock yesterday. (One clock which is partly yellow and partly black.
  2. When two nouns joined by ‘and’ denote two different individuals or objects, article should be used before both of them and before the first one only when they refer to the same one:
    • The horse and carriage is ready.
    • The poet and the orator have arrived.
  3. When nouns are given in a series and some of them require ‘a’ and some require ‘an’ article should be repeated: An M.P., an S.D.M., an artist, a dancer, a musician were present at the occasion.


Insert articles wherever required:

  1. Elephant is largest of all animals.
  2. We shall see him after dinner.
  3. I came across a tiger in forest.
  4. Don’t make noise.
  5. Aeroplane has conquered time and space.
  6. You have too high opinion about him.
  7. It is not easy to become Kalidas in India.
  8. Taj Mahal was built at great expense.
  9. I am certain that he is in right.
  10. Both thieves were taken into custody.
  11. Sun rises in the east and sets in west.
  12. She has useless pen.
  13. We arrived quarter of an hour earlier.
  14. Whole India is protesting against inflation.
  15. Principal of this college is coming.

Correct the following sentences:

  1. He is an university student.
  2. What type of a boy is he?
  3. The book is in a good condition.
  4. It was worth ten and half rupees.
  5. Wheat is sold by quintals.
  6. He made a mention of this in his letter.
  7. Ramesh, the goldsmith of this town, is coming.
  8. I want to go to cinema.
  9. Men were free in past.
  10. The student fell sick at the school and is now in the bed.
  11. O, the dearest one, when shall I see you again?
  12. I caught him by his neck.
  13. I remember kindness with which he treated us.
  14. He got the rank of a captain.
  15. Look here, cows are grazing grass.

7.6 Correct Usage: Adverb

7.6.1 What are Adverbs?

Adverbs are the words, which modify a verb, adjective or another adverb. For example: Joy drives slowly. She writes neatly. He runs very fast. In these sentences the words, ‘slowly,’ ‘neatly,’ and ‘fast’ are adverbs and they show how the actions are done.

7.6.2 Kinds of Adverbs

7.6.3 Position of Adverbs

The position of adverb affects the meaning of a sentence; hence, the adverb should be placed in the right place in a sentence:

  1. The adverbs of manner, place and time and the adverb phrases of time are generally used after the verb or the direct object:
    • He speaks fluently.
    • I looked for my book everywhere.
    • I will come soon.
    • They are leaving for Delhi tomorrow.
  2. The adverbs of frequency are usually placed between the subject and the verb if the verb has only one word:
    • We usually play tennis.
    • We never cook.

    However, these adverbs are placed between the auxiliary verb and the main verb if the verb has two words:

    • He has already finished his project.
    • I have often told you to write neatly.

    These adverbs are placed after the auxiliary verbs:

    • I am never late for the college.
    • We are always at home on Sundays.

    In short, responses if an auxiliary is stressed, the adverb comes before it:

    • Do you come late? No, I always do come on time.
    • When will you submit your assignment? I already have submitted it.
  3. If there are more than two adverbs after a verb or its object, the adverb of manner comes first, the adverb of place comes second and the adverb of time comes last:
    • She comes regularly at the shop every morning.
    • He spoke well at the meeting last Sunday.
    • I go for jogging in the park every day.
  4. Adverb is placed before the auxiliaries, ‘have to’ and ‘used to’:
    • He always used to speak politely.
    • We hardly have to go to college on foot.
  5. Adverb is placed before the adjective or another adverb it modifies:
    • The room was quite cold.
    • This game is very interesting.
  6. The adverb, ‘enough’ is used after the word it qualifies:
    • He is strong enough to lift this weight.
    • The teacher spoke loud enough to be heard.
  7. The adverb, ‘Only’ modifies the word that comes directly after it:
    • It only rained on Wednesday. (It only rained, it didn’t thunder.)
    • It rained only on Wednesday. (It rained on that day, not on Monday or Tuesday, etc.)
    • I solved only two sums. (not more than two sums)
    • I only solved two sums. (did not do anything else)

7.6.4 Correct Use of Adverbs

  1. No preposition is used before time showing words—‘morning,’ ‘evening,’ ‘night,’ ‘month,’ ‘year’—when they are preceded by the qualifying words—‘this,’ ‘that,’ ‘tomorrow,’ ‘last,’ ‘next’, etc:
    • He is coming tomorrow morning.
    • My father left for Delhi last Sunday.

    If time showing words are used without the qualifying words, preposition is used:

    • I will go to market in the evening.
    • We will play football in the morning.
  2. No adverb should be used between the infinitive, that is, to + verb:
    • I request you to call the doctor immediately. (Not … to immediately call the doctor…)


  3. Introductory ‘there’ has no significance as an adverb of place. In such sentences ‘there’ comes before an intransitive verb or the verb ‘to be’:
    • There came a tiger from the bush.
    • There was a large gathering in the park.
  4. The verbs—‘smell,’ ‘look,’ ‘taste,’ ‘sound,’ ‘feel’—etc., take an adjective not an adverb:
    • The rose smells sweet. (not sweetly)
    • She looks angry. (not angrily)
  5. ‘Home’ is a noun. It is used as an adverb also. No preposition or relative adjective should be used before it:
    • I am going home.
    • They are coming home.
  6. The adverb, ‘too’ usually used with the preposition ‘to’ means ‘more than enough/desirable/required’ for a specific purpose. It is used in negative sense:
    • It is too hot to go outside.
    • The news is too good to be true.

    ‘Too’ is used in the sense of ‘also’:

    • He, too, went there.
    • We, too, did it.

    ‘Too’ is also used in the sense of ‘very’:

    • I’m not too sure if this is right.
    • I’m just going out—I won’t be too long.
  7. Ago, Before: ‘Ago’ is used when we refer to the past from the time of speaking and ‘before’ when we refer to the past from any specific point of time:
    • I saw him two years ago.
    • I saw him before I left for Delhi.
  8. As and So: Both ‘as’ and ‘so’ are used in comparative degree. ‘As’ is used in affirmative sentences while ‘so’ is used in negative ones:
    • This book is as useful as the other one.
    • He is not so good at English as his brother is.
  9. ‘Sometimes’ is one word. It is used as an adverb:
    • Sometimes he becomes furious.


  10. ‘Quite’ means ‘perfectly,’ ‘entirely’ or ‘fully,’ hence, it should not be used in the sense of ‘very’:
    • This is quite a different problem.
    • I’m quite happy to wait for you here.
  11. ‘Now and then’ means ‘occasionally’; ‘off and on’ means ‘regularly’:
    • He goes to the theatre now and then.
    • He has been learning English off and on.
  12. Very and much:

    ‘Very’ is used with ‘different’ when it is not preceded by ‘not’ and ‘much’ is used with ‘different’ when it is preceded by ‘not’:

    • Delhi is very different from Chennai.
    • Delhi is not much different from Chandigarh.

    ‘Very’ is used with present participle while ‘much’ is used with past participle:

    • This news is very surprising.
    • He was much upset with the results.

    ‘Very’ is used with adjectives in positive degree while much is used with adjectives in comparative degree:

    • This gift is very expensive.
    • This toy is much more expensive than the other one.

    Both ‘very’ and ‘much’ are used for adjectives in superlative degree but the word order is different: the + very + superlative ; much + the + superlative:

    • He is the very best runner of the college.
    • He is much the fastest runner.
  13. ‘Comparatively’ is followed by an adjective in positive degree:
    • He died comparatively young. (not …comparatively younger…)
    • This exercise is comparatively easy. (not …comparatively easier…)
  14. ‘Rather’ means ‘fairly’ or ‘to some degree.’ It has a force of comparison in it so it should not be used with the adjectives in comparative degree:
    • The instructions were rather complicated. (not…rather more complicated)
    • The book is rather expensive. (not…rather more expensive)
  15. The adverbial phrase ‘by and by’ means ‘gradually:
    • He will recover from the shock by and by.
    • You will feel better by and by.
  16. ‘Of course’ means ‘admittedly.’ It should be used to emphasize something you are saying is true or correct:
    • ‘Don’t you like my painting?’ ‘Of course I do!
    • ‘Can I use your pen?’ ‘Of course you can.’
  17. ‘Badly’ when used with ‘want’ and ‘need’ has the meaning of ‘urgently’ and is placed before these verbs:
    • I badly want this job.
    • Your suit badly needs ironing.
  18. ‘Hardly’ and ‘scarcely’ have a negative meaning and they should not be used with a negative verb:
    • I hardly know her. (not.. hardly don’t know her)
    • He can scarcely see in this light. (not… can scarcely not see…)
  19. ‘Far and away’ means ‘decidedly’; ‘far and wide’ or ‘far and near’ means ‘in all directions’:
    • She is far and away the best player.
    • They searched far and near for the missing child.
  20. Yet, still: ‘Yet’ shows that we are expecting something and it is placed at the end of a negative statement or a question whereas, ‘still’ means ‘going longer than expected’ and it is placed in the middle of a sentence:
    • It is still raining.
    • The mail hasn’t arrived yet.


Correct the following sentences:

  1. Firstly I want a pen.
  2. He speaks very fluent.
  3. I could not find it nowhere.
  4. He goes to Delhi often.
  5. She is enough smart to tackle this problem.
  6. She is much intelligent.
  7. He paid dear for his mistake.
  8. It is bitter cold today.
  9. I feel so lonely without my kids.
  10. He is very poorer than all of his friends.
  11. He is presently in Chandigarh.
  12. Last night you returned lately.
  13. I only engaged this servant for a week.
  14. She was even blamed by her parents.
  15. No excuse is too slight not to be seized upon.
  16. Drinking is quite harmful for one’s health.
  17. Did you do it? Yes I didn’t.
  18. It is nothing else than pride.
  19. I have not been here too long to have many friends.
  20. They haven’t still spent their money.
  21. We yet have time to catch the train.
  22. Home made sweets are generally too wholesome.
  23. Not to talk of English, he can’t even talk Hindi correctly.
  24. Call him anything else than a fool.
  25. He behaved friendly.

7.7 Correct Usage: Preposition

7.7.1 What is a Preposition?

A preposition is a word or group of words, such as in, from, to, out of, on behalf of, used before a noun or pronoun to show relationships between nouns, pronouns and other words in a sentence.

7.7.2 Kinds of Prepositions

There are basically four types of prepositions:

1. Simple Prepositions:    Simple prepositions are single word prepositions, for example, at, as, at, but, by, down, except, for, from, in, like, near, of, off, on, over, since, than, to, under, up, with, etc.

2. Compound Prepositions:    Compound prepositions are the combination of a preposition with a noun, an adjective or an adverb, for example, across, around, beside, beneath, within, without, outside, inside, into, onto, upon, underneath, etc.

3. Participial Prepositions:    Participial prepositions are, in fact, present participle forms of verbs used as prepositions, for example, regarding, concerning, excepting, excluding, barring, notwithstanding, considering, following, during, etc.

4. Phrase Prepositions or Conglomerate Prepositions:    Phrase prepositions are the group of words used as prepositions, that is, in accordance with, according to, with reference to, along with, owing to, due to, in lieu of, in spite of, instead of, on account of, for the sake of, on behalf of, with regards to, in order to, in the course of, etc.

7.7.3 Position of Prepositions

  1. Prepositions are generally placed before the noun/pronoun:
    • I saw him in the park.
    • The cat is sitting under the table.
  2. When the object is an interrogative pronoun or a relative pronoun understood, the preposition is placed at the end of a sentence:
    • What are you looking for?
    • Which of these benches did you sit on?
    • This is the place I was talking about.
    • Here is the sum you asked for.
  3. When the object is a relative pronoun, the preposition is placed at the end of a sentence:
    • These are the words that I was referring to.
    • Here is the girl whom I was speaking of.
  4. Sometimes when the object is placed first, for the sake of emphasis, preposition is placed at the end of a sentence:
    • This I insisted on.
    • The Taj Mahal is known the world over.

7.7.4 Major Relations Indicated by Prepositions

7.7.5 Correct Use of Prepositions

1. Beside/Besides:    ‘Beside’ means ‘at the side of’ and ‘besides’ means ‘in addition to’:

  • My school is beside the lake.
  • He is learning English besides French and German.

2. Below/Under:    ‘Below’ means ‘lower than,’ ‘less than’ and ‘inferior to’ and ‘Under’ means ‘according to,’ ‘in the course of time’ and ‘lower in rank’:

  • Raju is below fourteen, so he cannot play this game.
  • Take any number below hundred.
  • No one below the officer’s rank can apply for the post.
  • Neelam inherited a large property under the will of her father.
  • The issue is under discussion.
  • The Assistant Manager is under the General Manager.

3. Since/For:    ‘Since’ is used for ‘a point of time from the past’ while ‘for’ indicates ‘duration of time’:

  • We have been doing it since morning.
  • They have been learning English for many years.

4. Between/Among:    ‘Between’ is used for two persons or things while ‘among’ is used for more than two:

  • I stood between Vandana and Jyoti.
  • This is a custom, which exists among the tribals.

5.By/With:    ‘By’ is used for the agent or the doer while ‘with’ is used for the instruments:

  • He was killed by a terrorist.
  • The terrorist killed the lady with an axe.

6. In/At/On (Place):    ‘In’ is used for bigger places, districts, countries, etc., ‘at’ is used for smaller towns, villages or places while ‘on’ is used for streets, floor, road, etc.:

  • He lives at 36, Geeta Marg in Lucknow.
  • The show was organized at the Art Club in Delhi.
  • There is a village on this road.
  • His house is on the first floor.

7. On/In/At/By (time):    ‘On’ is used for days, ‘in’ is used for months or years, ‘at’ for ‘time’ and ‘by’ indicates the latest time by which the action will be finished:

  • We should have vacation at the right time.
  • We will be there at 6.30 p.m. on Monday.
  • They will visit hill station in summer.
  • I hope to finish it by 15 January.

8. In/Into:    ‘In’ is used to show the state of being inside something, whereas ‘into’ shows movement to the inside of something:

  • He is sleeping in the room.
  • The ball fell into the tank.

9. On/Upon:    ‘On’ is used for objects in a position while ‘upon’ presents things in motion:

  • Put it down on the table.
  • The boy jumped upon the horse.

10. In/Within:    While referring to time ‘in’ indicates the end of a certain period and ‘within’ means before the certain period of time:

  • We will be back in three days.
  • They will repay the loan within three years.

11. By/Until:    ‘By’ means ‘not later than the time mentioned’ and ‘until’ means ‘up to the point in time or the event mentioned not before that’:

  • We hope to finish it by Sunday.
  • He will be in his office until 5 p.m.

12. Differ from/Differ with:    ‘Differ from’ means ‘dissimilar’ whereas ‘differ with’ means ‘to disagree with someone’:

  • This picture differs from that one.
  • I differ with my father on this issue.

13. Agree with/Agree to:    We ‘agree with a person on some point’ and ‘agree to’ a proposal:

  • I know he will not agree with us on that point.
  • The members of the Council did not agree to the proposal.

14. Compare with/Compare to:    ‘Compare with’ is used to compare two persons or things of the same kind while ‘compare to’ is used to compare a particular quality of two dissimilar objects or persons:

  • This house doesn’t compare with our previous one.
  • I had some difficulties but they were nothing compared to yours.

15. During/While:    ‘During’ is a preposition which is used before the phrases. ‘While’ is a conjunction that is used before a clause:

  • I usually read during lunch.
  • I often sing while I am cooking.

16. As/Like:    We use ‘as’ to talk about a job or a function while we use ‘like’ to talk about things being similar:

  • You can use this bucket as a dustbin.
  • You look like your mother.


Fill in the blanks with suitable prepositions:

  1. He was standing — her.
  2. The police have arrested the criminal — the warrant of the court.
  3. He is an authority — this subject.
  4. There was a long discussion — this issue.
  5. What are you looking —?
  6. She was standing — the mirror.
  7. He walked across the road — the flower beds.
  8. He will go to school — foot.
  9. The reasons — his failure are not known yet.
  10. They left the room one — one.
  11. The lion was shot — me — a gun.
  12. The cat pounced — the rat.
  13. One must learn — distinguish — the good and the bad.
  14. She is — leave.
  15. She is married — a rich merchant.
  16. He is working — computer.
  17. He prevented me — telling lies.
  18. Team has lost the match — its rival.
  19. I am looking — my lost pen.
  20. What is the time — your watch?

7.8 Correct Usage: Conjunctions

7.8.1 What is a Conjunction?

A conjunction is a word that links words, phrases or clauses. For example:

  • He and his friends have come.
  • Rajasthan is famous for its rich culture and hospitality of its people.
  • I was upset, still I kept quiet.
  • You must pay the dues or you will not be allowed to appear at the test.

In these sentences ‘and,’ ‘still’ and ‘or’ are conjunctions connecting different words, phrases and clauses.

7.8.2 Types of Conjunctions

There are mainly four types of conjunctions: coordinating conjunctions, correlative conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions and connecting adverbs. Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions are used to link two grammatical constructions or statements of equal rank, that is, nouns with nouns, adverbs with adverbs, phrases with phrases and clauses with clauses. When a coordinating conjunction links two verbs, which have the same subject, the subject need not be repeated. If a coordinating conjunction links two verbs, which do not have the same subject, the two coordinate clauses may be separated by a comma or semicolon, to make the meaning clear. The following coordinating conjunctions provide additional information:

  • And: Along with: The team played well and won the match.
  • As well as: In addition to: Tina as well as Sheena has qualified for the finals.
  • Both … and: Together: Anil is both smart and clever.
  • Not only … but also: Both the things or qualities: She is not only clever, but also hard working.
  • No less than: Both equally: He is no less than you responsible for the job.

The following coordinating conjunctions convey opposition or contrast:

  • But Nevertheless: The workers are poor but they are diligent.
  • Yet/Still: However: He is very rich yet/still he is unhappy.
  • Whereas/While: But: He is reserved whereas/while his brother is outspoken.
  • Nevertheless: On the other hand: He was threatened nevertheless he decided to speak truth.
  • However: But: Everybody was against him; however, he did not leave his stand.
  • Only: In no other condition: Children are admitted only if they are accompanied by an adult.

The following coordinating conjunctions present two alternatives or choices:

  • Or: Alternatively: Sit quietly or leave the room.
  • Either … or: One or the other of two: He is either a fool or a dupe.
  • Nor: And neither: You haven’t seen him nor have I.
  • Neither … nor: Not one nor the other of two: Their house is neither big nor small.
  • Otherwise, else: If not: The students should apologize for the misbehaviour otherwise (or else) they will be punished.

The following coordinating conjunctions present something inferred from another statement:

  • For: Because: He must be very hungry for he has not eaten anything.
  • So: Consequently: He is very hard working so he will definitely do it. Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions are used in pairs. They join similar elements to show the relationship between the ideas expressed in different parts of a sentence. While joining singular and plural subjects or the subjects of different persons, the subject closest to the verb determines whether the verb is singular or plural. Most of the correlative conjunctions are coordinate conjunctions such as ‘not only…but also,’ ‘either…or,’ ‘neither…nor,’ ‘both…and.’ The rest are as follows:

  • Not … but: He was not a student but a teacher.
  • Though … yet: Though he tried his best yet he could not succeed. ‘Yet’ may be omitted but it is wrong to use ‘but’ in its place.
  • Whether … or: I am not able to decide whether I should do it or not.
  • As … so: As you do so you will you face.
  • So … as: This question is not so difficult as you think.
  • So … that: It is so heavy that no one can lift it.
  • Such … that: He has such pleasant manners that everyone loves him.
  • Such … as: He offered such help as I could not refuse.
  • No sooner … than: No sooner did he reach the station than the train started. No sooner had he seen the tiger than he fired a shot.
  • Scarcely … when: Scarcely had we left home, when it started raining. Subordinating Conjunctions

A subordinating conjunction links a clause to another on which it depends for its full meaning. In other words, it connects two dependent clauses. It may begin with relative pronouns such as ‘that’/ ‘what’/‘whatever’/‘which’/‘who’ and ‘whom’ as well as with the words such as ‘how’/‘when’/‘where’/‘wherever’ and ‘why’ or with the words which are commonly referred to as subordinating conjunctions:

  • As: Because: As it is cold, you should take a sweater. When: We’ll decide on the team as and when we qualify.
  • After: Later in time: You may leave, after you have finished your work.
  • Although or though: Despite the fact that: Although we worked hard, we could not succeed.
  • Before: Prior to: I had arrived before the train came.
  • Because: For the reason that: We were shivering because it was very cold.
  • For: Because: He is happy for he enjoys his work.
  • If: On condition that: If she is here, I will definitely see her.
  • Lest: For fear that: We started early lest we should miss the train. (The conjunction, ‘lest’ is always used with the verb, ‘should.’)
  • That: So as to: Work hard that you may pass.
  • In order that: So that: We should play games in order that our health may improve.
  • Provided: On condition that: You will do well in exams provided you work hard.
  • Provided that: If: Provided that you have the money in your account, you can withdraw up to fifty thousand a day.
  • Since: From a past time: It is twenty years since I have seen her. As, because: Since you are here, you can help me.
  • So: Consequently: It was raining, so we did not go out.
  • So … that: In such a way that: The programme has been so organized that none of us felt bored.
  • So that: In order that: She worked hard so that everything would be ready in time.
  • Supposing (that): If: Supposing (that) you are wrong, what will you do then?
  • Than: Used in comparisons: She is smarter than you think.
  • Unless: Except, if not: Unless he helps us, we cannot succeed.
  • Until or till: Up to the time when: I will wait until/till you come.
  • Whereas: Because: Whereas this is a public building, it is open to everyone. On the other hand: Some of the students are diligent, whereas others are not.
  • Whether: If: I did not know whether I had to do it.
  • Whether or not: Either of the two cases: Whether or not we are successful, we are sure that we have done our best.
  • While: At the same time: While it was snowing, we were playing games. On the other hand: He is honest while his brother is a cheat. Even though: While I have no experience in writing, I will do my best.
  • As if: In a similar way: He behaves as if he knows everything.
  • As long as: If: As long as we are together, I am not scared of anything. Since: He has been doing this job as long as I have known him.
  • As soon as: Immediately when: As soon as you finish your assignment, submit it to me.
  • As though: In a similar way: It seems as though it is going to rain.
  • Even if: In spite of: I am going out even if it rains.
  • In case: For the fear that: Take some sandwiches in case you feel hungry.
  • Or else: Otherwise: Hurry up, or else you will be late for your classes.
  • So as to: In order to: I hurried so as to be on time. Connecting Adverbs

Connecting adverbs are similar to conjunctions because they may be used to introduce clauses. They are often used to show the relationship between the ideas expressed in a clause and the ideas expressed in a preceding clause, sentence or paragraph. The following are examples of words used as connecting adverbs:

  • Accordingly: Therefore: We have to discover his plans and act accordingly.
  • Also: In addition: She’s fluent in French; she also speaks a little Italian.
  • Too: Also: He is an actor and his brother is a dancer too.
  • Besides: In addition: Besides working as an engineer, he writes novels in his free time.
  • Consequently: As a result: Deforestation poses a big threat to the food chain and consequently to human survival.
  • Furthermore: Additionally: He said that he had not discussed the matter with her. Furthermore, he had not even contacted her.
  • So far as: To the degree that: That’s the truth, in so far as I know it.
  • Hence: For that reason: We suspect they are trying to hide something, hence the need for an
    independent inquiry.
  • However: But: We wanted to arrive on time; however, we were delayed by traffic.
  • Likewise: Similarly: The place is good; likewise, the climate is excellent.
  • Moreover: Furthermore: He is a talented artist; moreover, he is a good writer.
  • Nevertheless: But: The task was challenging; nevertheless, I liked it.
  • Nonetheless: But: The book is very long, nonetheless, informative and entertaining.
  • Notwithstanding: Despite this: Notwithstanding some major problems, the event was a grand success.
  • Otherwise: If not: You should be in time otherwise you will be punished.
  • Still: But: We tried our best still we couldn’t find it.
  • Then: Next: We finished our work then we went shopping.
  • Therefore: For that reason: I was upset, therefore, I could not concentrate on my work.
  • Thus: In this way: He got his vehicle repaired, thus he was able to reach office on time.


Fill in the blanks using the correct conjunctions:

  1. … you work hard, you will not succeed.
  2. I doubt…he will get the tickets for the show.
  3. He is very dull…his brother is very sharp.
  4. The train had…started… I reached the station.
  5. Start early…you should miss the class.
  6. He continued to be lazy… he was fourteen.
  7. do not doubt…he was there.
  8. …you win the lottery, what will you do?
  9. Men work… they may earn a living.
  10. The lion lay down…he were dead.
  11. … any other job, teaching has many challenges.
  12. …you stop here, you will get no time for work.
  13. …you sow…you will reap.
  14. …fast you go, I shall follow you.
  15. He had gone away…I came.
  16. He…I is bold.
  17. …Ram…his brother came to attend the meeting.
  18. We should get our house insured… there is an accident.
  19. I enjoy the songs… this one.
  20. …he came here, he didn’t say anything.

7.9 Correct Usage: Tenses

7.9.1 Introduction

In some languages, verb tenses are not very important or do not even exist. In English, the concept of tense is very important. The word, ‘tense’ (noun) has been derived from Latin word ‘tempus’ which means ‘time.’ It is a form of a verb, which is used to indicate the time, and sometimes the continuation or completeness of an action in relation to the time of speaking. In other words, tense is a method that we use in English to refer to time—past, present and future.

Nevertheless, we can also talk about time without using tenses. For example, ‘going to’ is a special construction which is used to talk about the future but it is not a tense. One tense does not always talk about one time; for instance, a present tense does not always refer to present time: ‘I hope it rains tomorrow’—‘rains’ is simple present tense but here it refers to future time (tomorrow). In the same way, a past tense does not always refer to past time: ‘If I had some money now, I could buy it’—here, ‘had’ is simple past but it refers to present time.

7.9.2 Table of Tenses

7.9.3 Common Errors in the Use of Tenses

  1. Will or shall: We use ‘shall’ for future only with the first person, that is, after I and we:
    • I will/shall finish college in June.
    • We will/shall know the result soon. (Not everyone shall know the results soon.)
    • They will finish the work today. (Not they shall…)
  2. ‘I/we will’ and ‘I/we shall’ have the same meaning but ‘shall’ is a little formal.
  3. Present perfect tense should not be used with the time expressions of the past tense:
    • I bought this watch yesterday. (Not … have bought …yesterday)
    • I finished my letter last night. (Not … have finished … last night…)
  4. Past tense in the principal clause is followed by the past tense in the subordinate clause:
    • I asked him what he had done. (Not …what he has done.)
    • Children ran outside to see what was happening. (Not …what is happening.)
  5. Past tense in the principal clause is followed by the present tense in the subordinate clause to denote universal truth or facts:
    • I learnt at school that the earth is round like a ball. (Not …was round like…)
    • My father taught me that honesty is the best policy. (Not…honesty was…)
  6. Simple present tense is used for states or permanent facts while present continuous tense is used for temporary actions:
    • A photographer takes photographs. Smile please; I am taking your photograph.
    • They live in a nice flat. They are living in a small flat for the time being.
    • It usually rains at weekends. It is raining at the moment.
    • Paper burns easily. See how the paper is burning.
  7. Verbs of senses—see, hear, smell, notice, seem, appear, recognize; verbs of emotions—want, like, desire, love, hate, forgive, forget, wish, prefer; verbs of thinking—think, suppose, know, mean, realize, understand, suppose, believe, remember, expect, agree, consider, trust, imagine, mind and the verbs showing possession—have, has, own, belong, possess, contain, consist, keep—are used in simple tenses not in continuous tenses when they refer to states, permanent quality or facts. However, they may be used in continuous tenses when they refer to actions, temporary behaviour or short-lived feelings, etc.:
    • The house is clean. The sweeper is cleaning the house.
    • I see your problem. I am seeing your problem.
    • I like my school. I am liking school much better now.
    • I think you are right. I am thinking about your problem.
    • We have a big car. We are having lunch.
    • We all enjoy parties. We are enjoying this party.
  8. For interrupted actions we use present perfect tense not present perfect continuous:
    • I have written five letters since morning. (Not … have been writing…)
    • They have played four games since afternoon. (Not … have been playing…)
  9. The adverbials—just, already, never, ever, so far, till now, lately, recently, yet, before, today, this week/month/year—are generally used in the present perfect tense when they show finished actions in the present state of completion:
    • I have just finished writing it. (Not I just received…)
    • They have already received your message. (Not They already received…)
  10. ‘Since’ and ‘for’ denote time. Both of them are used as prepositions. ‘Since’ is used for ‘a point of time’ while ‘for’ is used for ‘the duration or length of time’:
    • I have been learning English since class II. (Not …for class II)
    • We have been reading this book for two hours. (Not since…two hours)
  11. When ‘since’ is used as a preposition, it is always preceded by a verb in the present perfect or past perfect tense:
    • The college had been closed since Monday. (Not … was closed…)
    • He has been irregular in classes since July. (… Not was irregular…)
  12. When ‘since’ is used as a conjunction, it is followed by a verb in the simple past tense and preceded by a verb in the simple present or present perfect tense:
    • A month has passed since I came here.
    • Two hours have passed since he fell asleep.
    • Hours pass quickly since I have got this job.
  13. Two or more actions, given in a sequence are described in the simple past tense. If the sequence is not given, the first action is described in simple present tense and the second one is described in the past perfect tense:
    • He got up, looked here and there and went away.
    • The train had left before I reached station.
  14. Future tense is not used after the temporal conjunctions—until, when, before, after, as soon as, as, etc.:
    • He will come when he is ready. (Not …when he will be ready)
    • I will be here till you come. (Not…till you will come)
  15. When ‘were’ is used to refer to the future, subordinate clause cannot express a completed action:
    • Were I in her place, I would enjoy a lot. (Not…I would have enjoyed a lot.)
    • Were you in my place you would feel sick. (Not…you would have felt sick.)

7.9.4. Conditionals

When we talk of the future, we think about a particular condition or situation and the result of this condition. Sentences describing such situations are called conditionals. There are several structures of conditionals used for different purposes:

  1. The structure, ‘If/when + simple present + simple present’ is used for the result of a condition that is always true like a scientific fact. One thing follows the other automatically:
    • If you heat water, it boils.
    • When I get up late, I get late for the office.
  2. The structure, ‘If + simple present + will/can/shall + main verb,’ shows a real possibility that the condition will happen:
    • If it rains, I will stay at home.
    • If they don’t pass the exams, their parents will be unhappy.

    We can use present perfect or present continuous tense also in the ‘if clause’ and a modal in the main clause:

    • If you are going for a job interview, you should wear a tie.
    • If you haven’t got a television, you can’t see the match.
  3. The structure, ‘If + simple past + would/past form of a modal + main verb’ shows unreal possibility or dream:
    • If we took a car, we would reach early.
    • If I won a lottery, I would buy a huge bungalow.
  4. The structure, ‘If + past perfect + would have + past participle’ shows no possibility. In such conditionals, the condition as well as result is impossible now:
    • If you had been more careful, you would not have fallen.
    • If you had called me, I would have come to see you.
  5. The ‘if clause’ usually comes first but it can come after the main clause too:
    • The ice melts, if you heat it.
    • We will miss the bus, if we don’t hurry.
    • I could do it faster, if I had a calculator.
    • He would have passed the test, if he had not made that mistake.

7.9.5 Question Tags

A tag is something small that is added to something larger. For example, when you buy a dress, the little piece of cloth or a tag attached to it shows size, washing instructions or price. A question tag is a mini-question that follows a statement. The whole sentence is a ‘tag question,’ and the mini-question at the end of it is called a ‘question tag.’ Question tags are commonly used in spoken English to ask for confirmation or to make polite and friendly requests or to give orders.

The question tag should have the same verb or tense as that of the tag question. If the sentence is in negative, the tag should be in affirmative and if the sentence is in affirmative, the tag should be in negative. Contractions—can’t / don’t / doesn’t / won’t / shan’t / aren’t / isn’t / wasn’t / weren’t / hasn’t / haven’t / hadn’t / shouldn’t / wouldn’t / couldn’t / mustn’t—should be used. For example:

  • The rose is beautiful. Isn’t it?
  • Honey tastes sweet. Doesn’t it?
  • I could do it well. Couldn’t I?
  • You can’t climb mountains. Can you?
  • You don’t know him. Do You?
  • They will not help us. Will they?
  • We must not give her the news. Must we?


Correct the following sentences:

  1. We have written to you yesterday about this matter.
  2. He ran outside to see what is happening.
  3. He would come, if you wished it.
  4. Were I in his place I should have paid the money.
  5. I am here since 1992.
  6. She didn’t see the President yet.
  7. Two years passed since his father died.
  8. He is long known to me.
  9. Boys are to go to school daily.
  10. He might have come to see me now.
  11. He will come when he will be ready.
  12. She sang very well. Isn’t it?
  13. He saw the Taj Mahal.
  14. Kindly see my testimonials.
  15. He asked me where was I going.
  16. I did nothing but cried.
  17. I want to realize the consequences of your actions.
  18. We shall start for picnic as soon as you will come.
  19. Let us purchase a radio before the price will go up.
  20. If only I met her earlier, I would have given you the invitation for the party.

7.10 Correct Usage: Subject–Verb Agreement

The verb must agree with the subject in number and person. The basic principle is: singular subjects need singular verbs; plural subjects need plural verbs. For example:

  • My brother is a doctor.
  • My sisters are teachers.
  1. Two or more singular subjects joined by ‘and’ take a plural verb:
    • Oil and water do not mix.
    • A car and a bike are the popular means of transportation.
  2. When two singular nouns joined by ‘and’ together express one idea, a singular verb is used:
    • Slow and steady wins the race.
    • Rice and curry is my favourite dish.
  3. If two subjects are joined with—‘as well as’, ‘in addition to’, ‘besides’, ‘not’, ‘with’, ‘along with’, or ‘together with’—the verb agrees with the first subject:
    • The owner as well as his servants is honest.
    • The players as well as their captain are happy.
    • Diseases in addition to poverty and illiteracy pose a big challenge in slums.
    • You not he have been fined.
    • Several other activities besides writing keep me busy.
    • The teacher with/ along with his students was present in the programme.
    • The leader together with his friends is going to prison.
  4. When two subjects are joined with ‘not only – but also’ the verb agrees with the latter subject:
    • Not only the students but also the teacher was asked to give a presentation.
    • Not only the master but his attendants were also praised.
  5. Two singular subjects connected with – ‘or,’ ‘nor,’ ‘either – or,’ ‘neither – nor’ take a singular verb: For example:
    • Neither Joy nor Sam is available.
    • Either Vandana or Jyoti is helping with stage decorations.
  6. When the subjects of different numbers are connected by ‘or,’ ‘nor,’ ‘either – or,’ ‘neither – nor’ the plural subject is placed the last and verb is used according to it:
    • Neither Aarti nor her friends like coffee.
    • The minister or his officials have to take responsibility of the accident.
  7. When subjects of different persons are connected by ‘or,’ ‘nor,’ ‘either – or,’ ‘neither – nor’, the second person comes first, the third person comes second and the first person comes last. The verb agrees with the subject nearest it:
    • Neither she nor I am going to the festival.
    • Either you or Tinkle has to do the job.
  8. The expressions, ‘many a,’ ‘a great deal of,’ ‘one of the + (plural noun),’ ‘the number of,’ ‘a majority of,’ ‘pair of’ take a singular verb:
    • Many a new idea has come to my mind.
    • A great deal of patience is required to do this job.
    • One of the boys has broken the flask.
    • The number of books on this subject is very small.
    • A majority of people was in favour of banning smoking.
    • A pair of shoes was lying on the floor.
  9. Some plural nouns showing an amount, a fraction or an element of time are considered singular and take a singular verb:
    • Sixty minutes is enough to finish this task.
    • Ten dollars is a high price to pay.
    • Two weeks is a good holiday.
    • Three fourths of land is barren.
  10. The pronouns, ‘anyone’, ‘anybody’, ‘everyone’, ‘everybody’, ‘someone’, ‘no one’, ‘nobody’, ‘each’, ‘every’, ‘neither’ and ‘either,’ are singular and take a singular verb:
    • Does anyone else want to come?
    • Is there anybody in the room?
    • Everybody has done his or her homework.
    • Someone has left her book.
    • There is no one in the room.
    • Each of these shops is doing good business.
    • Every boy and every girl was given a sweet.
    • Neither of the traffic lights is working.
  11. Indefinite pronouns—‘several’, ‘few’, ‘both,’ ‘many’—are used with plural verbs:
    • Several books were lying on the table.
    • Both the books require careful reading.
    • Few people were present on the occasion.
    • Many mistakes were found in the article.
  12. The words ‘here’ and ‘there’ are generally used as adverbs even though they indicate place. In sentences beginning with ‘here’ or ‘there’, the verb is used according to the real subject that follows it:
    • There are many difficulties to overcome.
    • There is a big problem in his way.
    • Here are two apples.
    • Here comes Mr. Smith.
  13. While using the words indicating portions—‘ half of’, ‘a part of’, ‘percentage of’, a variety of’, ‘plenty of’, ‘a lot of’, ‘remainder’, ‘fraction of’, ‘all’, ‘any’, ‘more’, ‘most of’, ‘none of’ and ‘some of’—take a singular verb when they refer to amount or quantity as a whole and a plural verb when they refer to a number. For example:
    • Half of the money was mine. Half of the students have passed.
    • A large part of the population is voting against her. /A large part of students enjoy doing mischief.
    • Forty percent of the students are in favour of changing the examination system./ Forty percent of the student body is in favour of changing the policy.
    • A variety of questions were selected for the test. /This is a rare variety of rose.
    • Plenty of books are available on this topic. /Plenty of money was spent on decorations.
    • All five men are hard workers. All wood tends to shrink.
    • Are there any stamps? Is there any water?
    • Some of the books have been stolen. Some of the milk is missing.
    • More work remains to be done. /More people are expected to visit this place.
    • Most of the classical music sends me to sleep. /Most of the stories about him are false.
  14. Adjectives—‘much’, ‘less’, ‘little’—are used with uncountable nouns and take a singular verb:
    • Much of the work has been done.
    • It is less of a problem than I had expected.
    • A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
  15. When subjects and verbs are separated by a comma, a clause or a longer phrase, use the verb according to the actual subject:
    • The dress, I bought on my birthday, is really good.
    • All the songs, recorded by him, are really entertaining.
  16. Similarly, when the subject of the verb is a relative pronoun, use the verb according to the antecedent of the relative pronoun:
    • I am the person who has always stood by you.
    • I who am your friend should have been told about it.

For the correct usage of verb with collective nouns, nouns singular in form and plural in sense, nouns plural in form but singular is usage, nouns used in singular only, nouns used in plural only, nouns used in the same form in plural as well as in plural and nouns indicating length, weight, measurement, money or number, please refer to ‘Correct Usage: Nouns’-7.2.6.


Correct the following sentences:

  1. This is one of the most difficult papers that has ever been set.
  2. I am one who have always prayed for your well being.
  3. Not only boys but their teacher also deserve praise.
  4. Each of the suspected men was arrested.
  5. A pair of spectacles are lying on the table.
  6. None of his speeches have been appreciated.
  7. Neither praise nor blame seem to affect him.
  8. A series of lectures were delivered by him.
  9. A lot of time have been wasted.
  10. Every boy and every girl were given a prize.
  11. Hard work as well as luck are necessary for success.
  12. Gulliver’s Travels are a captivating book.
  13. A great deal of work remain to be done.
  14. Everyone in the class read their book.
  15. Students together with their teacher was watching the match.
  16. Three miles are not a long distance.
  17. Soup and salad are too light a breakfast.
  18. Neither he nor you is allowed to go there.
  19. My friend who lives with his aunt come to meet daily.
  20. The cows as well the dog is a faithful animal.
  21. The teacher and the student goes there.
  22. The majority of students was satisfied with the decision.
  23. Any body who are a student of the college can take part in this contest.
  24. She or her friend have stolen my book.
  25. There was no windows in our room.
  26. The owner of these houses are very clever.
  27. There is 11 players in the team.
  28. Rice and curry are his favourite dish.
  29. Both of the books requires careful reading.
  30. Neither Tina nor her friends is going there.
  31. A number of books is missing.
  32. A doctor and a nurse is working in this hospital.