Sentence correction

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  1. Everything You Need to Prepare for the GMAT Verbal
  2. Best Free GMAT Grammar Book
  3. Sentence Correction Basics
  4. How to Improve Verbal for Non-Native English Speakers
  5. Best GMAT Verbal Books - reviews and advice
  6. Best GMAT Books and Guides
  7. Free GMAT Math Book

'Such as' vs. 'Like'

Such as is used to indicate examples.

Like is used to indicate similarities

'Of’ Construction

Do not get confused by subjects followed by the word of. 'Of’ constructions are just middlemen that try to disguise the true subject.

'And' vs. Additive

The word and can unite two or more singular subjects, forming a compound plural subject.

There are other words or phrases besides and that can add to a subject. These are called additive phrases.

Example

Along with, in addition to, as well as, accompanied by, together with, including.

Additive phrases do not form compound subjects 'Or', 'Either… Or', and 'Neither… Nor'.

Some subjects contain disjunctive phrases such as 'or', 'either… or’ and 'neither… nor’.

Find the subject that is nearest the verb and make sure that the verb agrees in number with this subject.

Example

Neither Joe nor his friends are going to the beach

Neither his friends nor Joe is going to the beach

When the words 'either’ or 'neither’ are in a sentence alone, they are not considered to be part of a disjunctive phrase. In these cases, they are considered singular and take only singular verbs.

Indefinite Pronouns

An indefinite pronoun is one that is not definite about the thing it refers.

All pronouns that end in -one, -body or -thing are considered singular subjects and therefore require singular verb forms.

Singular Pronouns

Anyone, Anybody, Anything, No one, Nobody, Nothing Someone, Somebody, Something Everyone, Everybody, Everything Whatever, Whoever Either, Neither, Each, Every.

There are however 5 indefinite pronouns which can be singular or plural depending on the context of the sentence:

Some

Any

None

All

Most

For SANAM pronouns, look at the object of the 'of’ construction to determine the number of the subject. (i.e. the 'of’ construction which usually follows the pronoun).

Example

Some of the money was stolen from the bank.

Some of the documents were missing.

'Each' and 'Every'

When 'each' or 'every' is the subject of the sentence, it requires a singular verb form.

The same is true for any subject preceded by the word 'every' or 'each'.

Example:

Every dog has paws.

Each of these shirts is pretty.

When each or every follows a subject, it has no bearing on the verb form.

Example

They each are great tennis players.

'The number of’ vs. 'A number of'

The number of is always singular.

A number of is always plural.

Other numerical words such as majority, minority, and plurality can be either singular or plural depending on their context.

If one means the many individual parts of the totality, then use a plural verb form.

Example

The majority of the students in this class are hard workers.

If one means the totality itself, then use a singular verb form.

Example

The student majority is opposed to the death penalty.

Subject Phrase

Sometimes the subject of a sentence is an entire phrase or clause. These subject phrases are always singular and require singular verb forms.

Example

Having good friends is a wonderful thing.

Whatever they want to do is fine with me.

Infinitives

When a verb takes the form to + the verb, it is called the infinitive form.

Avoid sentences that insert a word between to and the verb. This error is called a split infinitive and is often incorrect.

Example Correct: I need you to run quickly to the store.

Wrong: I need you to quickly run to the store.

Progressive Tense

In general, try to use the simple tenses (present, past, future) instead of the progressive tense. However, if the meaning of the sentence emphasizes the ongoing nature of an action, you can use the progressive tense.

Example

She was playing with her friends when the babysitter arrived.

Present Perfect

If an event started in the past but continues into (or remains true) in the present, you use the present perfect tense.

Have/Has + Past Participle

Past Perfect

If more than one action in a sentence occurred at different times in the past, you must use the past perfect tense for the earlier action and the simple past for the later action.

Had + Past Participle

Some Past Participle of Irregular Verbs

Verb Simple Past Past Participle
Begin Began Begun
Bring Brought Brought
Do Did Done
Drink Drank Drunk
Forget Forgot Forgotten
Get Got Gotten
Go Went Gone
Hang (Object) Hung Hung
Hang (Person) Hanged Hanged
Lay (to put) Laid Laid
Lie (to tell a lie) Lied Lied
Lie (to recline) Lay Lain
Rise Rose Risen
Swim Swam Swum
Throw Threw Thrown

If…Then Construction

Sentences that use the word 'if’ to describe hypothetical conditions require a conditional verb construction.

These sentences have two parts: if clause, and the then clause. The word 'if’ does not always signal a conditional sentence.

Only when the sentence has a 'then' clause, then the sentence is considered a conditional sentence. Also note would/could never appears in the 'if’ clause. The actual word then is frequently omitted

If Clause Then Clause
Present Tense Will + Base Verb
Past Tense Would/Could + Base Verb
Past Perfect Tense Would/Could + Have + Past Participle

If vs. Whether

Whether is preferable over if.

Example

Incorrect: I do not know if I will go to the dance.

Correct: I do not know whether I will go to the dance.

Subjunctive Mood

The Subjunctive Mood is used for two types of sentences:

If clauses: When the if clause expresses a condition contrary to reality. In this use of the subjunctive, the verb 'to be' always appears as the word were, regardless of the subject. It never appears as the word was.

Example

If I were rich, I would donate money to rebuild my old school.

If he were tall, he would be able to play basketball better.

Hopes, Proposals, Desires and Request are formed with the word that.

The subjunctive is also used to express the desire of one person or body for another person or body to do something. This use of the subjunctive is formed with the word that + the infinitive form of the verb (without the word 'to').

Example

Wilfred knew it was imperative that he pass the GMAT quickly.

Passive Voice

The passive voice is formed with a form of to be, followed by a past participle.

The person or people performing the action in the sentence almost always follow the verb.

Example

The pizza was eaten by the hungry students.

It has been decided by Jason that he will not attend college.

The passive voice is required when the non-underlines portion of the sentence contains the person or agent performing the action preceded by the word by.

Example

The shuttle launch was seen around the world by people of all ages, all races, and all religions.

Pronouns

Subject Object Possessive
I Me My, Mine
You You Your, Yours
He Him His
She Her Her, Hers
It It Its
We Us Ours
They Them Theirs
Who Whom Whose

Who or Whom

You can tell when 'who' is more appropriate, and when 'whom' is more appropriate by changing the adjective clause into a free running sentence. If the free running sentence contains he, she or they - use who.

Example

He had none of the appearance of a man who sailed before the mast. (He sailed before the mast)

If the free running sentence contains him, her or them - use whom.

Example

A man stepped in on whom I had never set my eyes before. (I have never set my eyes on him before)

Example

Who are you going to marry? I am going to marry 'he/she'. (Wrong)

Whom are you going to marry? I am going to marry 'him/her'. (Correct)

Whose

Whose relates to people or to things. You can tell when to use 'whose' by changing the adjective clause into a free-running sentence. If the free running sentence contains his, hers, its, theirs - use whose.

Example

I am walking beside my father whose name is Simon Dedalus. (His name is Simon Dedalus)

Adjectives and Adverbs

Many adverbs are formed by adding '-ly' to the adjective.

Example:

Real, Really. Nice, Nicely. Slow, Slowly.

An adjective can only modify nouns or pronouns.

An adverb can modify verbs, adjectives, another adverb, preposition, or a phrase.

Example

Incorrect: Schumacher is a real good driver.

The adjective 'good' modifying driver can only be modified by an adverb. Real is an adjective and so should not be used.

Correct: Schumacher is a really good driver.

The adverb 'really' now modifies the adjective 'good' correctly.

Good vs. Well

Good is an adjective that describes a noun. Well can be used as an adjective that means healthy, or as an adverb that means competently.

Example

Schumacher is a good driver - Good is an adjective, modifying the noun driver Schumacher is feeling well. - Well is an adjective modifying Schumacher Schumacher drives well - Well is an adverb modifying drives

Modifier

A modifier, or modifying phrase, describes someone or something in the sentence.

Modifiers are usually (not always) set off from the rest of the sentence by commas.

If the noun that is being modified by a modifier or modifying phrase is not in the sentence, we have a dangling modifier.

In some cases, the modified noun is in the sentence but is not directly next to the modifying phrase. This is called a misplaced modifier.

A modifying phrase should not be separated from the noun it modifies.

Adverbial Modifier

When the word being modified is not a noun, the modifying phrase is called an adverbial phrase and does not need to touch the word being modified.

Example The running back ran towards the end zone, faster and harder than he had ever run before.

The modifying phrase, faster and harder than he had ever run before modifies how the running back ran. Thus the phrase modifies 'ran' and not 'running back'.

Modifiers with relative pronouns

Modifying phrases are often introduced by relative pronouns such as: which, that, where, who, whose, whom.

On the GMAT, it is sometimes preferable to insert a modifier using a relative pronoun and a simple verb tense than using just an '-ing' form of a verb.

Example

We test-drove a car having engine trouble. (Awkward and not preferable)

We test-drove a car that had engine trouble. (Relative Pronoun + Simple Verb Tense)

The pronoun who introduces phrases that modify a person or a group of people.

The pronoun which introduces phrase that modify things.

The pronoun that can be used to modify either people or things.

Essential vs. Non-Essential Modifier

'Which' is used to introduce non-essential modifiers. These are clauses that provide information about a noun that is not necessary for identifying that noun.

'That' is used to introduce essential modifiers. These are clauses that provide information about a noun that is necessary for identifying that noun.

Example (Non-Essential)

To find my house, walk down the left side of the road until you reach the third house, which is red.

The sentence above always leads you to the third house on the left side of the road, and this house happens to be red.

Example (Essential)

To find my house, walk down the left side of the road until you reach the third house that is red.

The sentence above leads you to the third red house on the left side of the road. This may be the third house on the left side of the road, or it may be the tenth house on the left side of the road. A modifier introduced by 'which' can be removed from the sentence without the sentence losing any essential meaning.

A modifier introduced by 'that' is essential to the meaning.

Commas are used to separate non-essential modifiers from the noun that is modified.

The pronoun 'who' can be used in either essential or non-essential modifiers.

Example (Essential)

Only guests who are accompanied by tenants may use the gym facilities.

The sentence above identifies a subgroup of guest to whom the pool is open: those accompanied by tenants.

Example (Non-Essential)

Only guests, who are accompanied by tenants, may use the gym facilities.

The sentence above indicates that only guests (as opposed to tenants) may use the gym facilities and that they just happen to be accompanied by tenants.

Be careful when using 'which' to introduce modifiers. When 'which' is used as a relative pronoun to introduce a modifier, it refers to the noun immediately preceding it.

Example

The police found the murder weapon, which made the prosecutor's job easier.

It is the finding of the murder weapon that helped the prosecutor. However, by using 'which' to introduce the modifier, it points to the noun murder weapon. So now it means the murder weapon helped the prosecutor instead of the action of finding the murder weapon.

To fix the sentence:

The police found the murder weapon, making the prosecutor's job easier.

If 'which' seems to refer to the action of the preceding clause, you must look for an alternative that either links 'which' properly with a noun antecedent, or rework the sentence to avoid the use of 'which' completely.

Parallelism

Often, pronouns such as 'which', 'that', 'those', 'who', etc. - signal parallel structures. If one item includes a pronoun, it is often appropriate to include the same pronoun in parallel items.

Example

I prefer to hire employees who work hard to those who don't.

I enjoy going out with people who are humorous than those who aren't.

Verbs of Being

Verbs of being express what a subject is, or the condition the subject is in.

The most common verb of being is the verb to be.

To Be Other Verbs of Being or Condition
Is Appear Seem
Am Become Smell
Are Feel Sound
Was Grow Stay
Were Look Taste
Been Remain Turn
Being


When you see a form of the verb 'to be', be sure that the two sides are parallel.

Example

The flower bouquet was the husband's loving gift to his wife.

Like vs. As

'Like' is used to compare people or things (nouns).

'As' is used to compare clauses.

A clause is any phrase that includes a verb.

Example

Jack and Jill, like Humpty Dumpty, are extremely stupid.

Just as jogging is a good exercise, swimming is a great way to burn calories, (verb).

X of Y

X: %, percent, number, fraction etc. Y: subject.

X of Y is a case where the combined subject is singular or plural, based on whether Y is singular or plural.

Example

A high percentage of the population is voting for the new school.

Population is singular

A high percentage of the people were voting for the new school.

People is plural

More Examples: 10% of the students are not in the class (plural)

One third of the cake has been eaten (singular)

Conjunctions

A conjunction connects parts of a sentence.

Watch out for sentences that have no logical connectors between two independent clauses.

This is termed a run-on sentence because it involves two independent sentences connected by nothing more than a comma. It can be corrected by adding a coordinating conjunction.

Coordinating Conjunction

For

And

Nor

But

Or

Yet

So

Example (run-on sentence)

I need to relax, I have so many things to do.

Example (Fixing run-on sentence)

I need to relax but I have so many things to do.

Other connecting words

Although, When, Because, Since, Before, After, If, Unless.

Make sure that clauses are connected by a logical connecting word.

Example

She is not interested in playing sports, but she likes watching them on TV.

Colon and Semicolon

The semicolon is used to connect two closely related statements. Both statements must be able to stand alone as independent sentences.

Example

Incorrect: Andrew and Lisa are inseparable; doing everything together.

Correct: Andrew and Lisa are inseparable; they do everything together.

The colon is used to equate two parts of a sentence where the second part is dependent on the first part (i.e. first part must be independent).

You should be able to insert the word namely after the colon.

Example

Incorrect: I love listening to: classical, rock, and pop music.

Correct: I love many kinds of music: [namely] classical, rock, and pop.

Uncountable vs. Countable Nouns

If you are talking about something that you can count individually, use 'fewer’ or 'many'. If you are talking about something that you can't count individually, use 'less', a lot of’,‘ much'.

Example

I ate fewer French fries that you did.

You ate less mashed potato that I did.

{{#x:box|This article is based on material provided by User:Ywilfred.}} {{#x:box|This article contains a bulk of different tips collected from our Verbal forum. Feel free to organize the content in a more efficient way. }}



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