Common Errors in English Language

1. Articles,nouns,pronouns:

*Countable nouns take ‘a’ or ‘an’; ‘a’ give consonant sound and ‘b’ give vowel sound.


He has written a letter to his friend.

He saw an elephant in the zoo.

Article the should be used with the names of the following: Rivers,Great book,Mountains, Monuments,News paper,Unique things etc.


The Ganges is a sacred river of India.

The Gita is a sacred book of Hindus.

The definite article the should be used with the superlative degrees and comparative degrees (when two),and with two nouns(proper and common) naturally going together and spoken of as a unit.


He is the best student of the class.

The more he works,the weaker he becomes.

The allahabad University is one of the famous universities of India.

Note:The definite article the should be omitted with the names of persons,games,diseases,days,months etc. Ex-He will leave for England in January.

Dear,Fish,Sheep,Swine,Pice,apparatus,yoke etc. are some of the nouns which have the same form both in the singular and the plural.


His father had a hundred sheep.

Deer are grazing in the field.

*Some nouns like spectacles,trousers,animals,thanks,remains,assets,riches etc. are used only in the plural.


Riches do many things.

His trousers are torn and worn out.

Note:Some of the nouns(Mathematics,politics,news,innings etc.) though pural in form are commonly used in singular.


No news is good news.

The Indian Cricket team won the match by an innings.

*’people’,’police’,’poultry’,’cattle’,’gentry’ are some of the collective nouns which though singular in form are always used as plural.


Cattle are grazing in the field.

*’scenary’,’information’,’poetry’,’furniture’,’advise’ etc. are some of the nouns used in the singular only.


The scenary of kashmir is very charming./

*when a noun works as an adjective in a compound word,it always used in singular,even though it may be preceded by a plural numerical.


A five rupee note,a three mile race,a five man delegation etc.

*’Let’ and prepositions are followed by pronouns in objective case.


Let him go.

please have faith in me.

There is great similarity between you and him.

*Verbs like,’avail’,’absent’,’acquit’,’enjoy’,’reverse’,’resign’,’pride’ etc are ordinarily followed by reflexive pronouns.


He absented himself from the class.
He will avail himself of this chance.
He acquitted himself creditably.

*Reflexive pronouns are never used with the following verbs: keep,break,hide,conceal,spread,feed,qualify,smoke etc.


He hid behind the thicket.
He fed on the labours of others.
He kept away from the college.

*When two nouns or pronouns are joined by ‘neither….nor’,’either….or’ the verb agrees with the subject nearest to it.


Neither you nor he is to blame.
Either kamla or her friends have been responsible for this accident.

*When two nouns are closely connected,the apostrophe’s is added only to the second;as, Huntley and palmar’s biscuits;william and Mary’s reign.

*Each of two or more connecting nouns implying separate possessions must take the possessive sign;as- Mohan’s and Hari’s farms,shelley’s and keat’s poems.

*A pronoun must agree with its antecedent in person,number and gender.where the pronoun ‘one’ is used,it should be used throughout.


Every man must discharge ‘his’ duty well.
All the students must bring their own pen.
One must do one’s duty to the country.

*The relative pronoun ‘that’ is used in preference to ‘which’ and ‘who’ before ‘all’,’any’,’only’,’same’ man and animal,superlative degree,interrogative expression preceding etc.


All that glitters is not gold.
The man and his dog that came to me were very fine.
That was the best that he could do for his friend.

2. (Adjectives,Adverbs,Adverbial order) Some Important Rules:

*The comparative adjectives like ‘superior’,’inferior’,’senior’,’prior’,’preferable’ etc are followed by ‘to’.


Death is preferable to dishonour.
He is senior to me in service by five years.

*When two persons or things are compared with each other,the latter term of comparison must exclude the former by the use of ‘other’


He is more intelligent than any other student of the class.
No other leader in the country is as popular as Jawaharlal Nehru.

*Less refers to quantity only,whereas ‘fewer’ denotes number.They should be used as such.


No fewer than fifty persons were drowned.
We do not sell less than one quintal of wheat.

*’Little’,’a little’,’the little’-‘Little’ has a negative meaning and means ‘hardly any’,’a little’ has a positive meaning and means ‘some’,though not much;’the little’ means,’not much,but all that is’.


He has little knowledge of politics.
There was a little milk left in the pot.
He sold the little gold he got from his mother.

*Use of ‘Later’,’Latest’,’Latter’,’Last’-Later and Latest is refer to time.Latter and Last refer to position.’Latter’ refers to two,’Last’ to more than two.


He came later than his friend.
We have heard the latest news.
Ram and Gopal appeared for the examination,the latter(Gopal) passed.
Of the four literary types prose,novel,drama and poetry,the last(poetry) is my favourite.

*The use of ‘many a’: Here ‘a’ means ‘one’,’many a man’ means ‘many times one man’ or ‘many man’.It is used with a noun and verb in the singular,but has in reality a plural meaning.’Many men’ takes the men collectively;’many a man’ takes them singly.


Full many a flower is born to blush unseen.

*when two person or things are compared,it is importent to see that the comparison is between them only;as-


Incorrect: The population of Bombay is greater than Delhi.
Correct: The population of Bombay is greater than that of Delhi.
Incorrect: Riya’s poems are more lyrical than Amit.
Correct: Riya’s poems are more lyrical than Amit’s.

*Faulty expressions like the ‘two first’,’my all’,’the all’ should be rectified like this: the ‘first two’,’all my’,’all the’.


The first two chapters of this book are well-written.
All my hopes were dashed to the ground.
All the students were making a noise.

*The variable adverbs like ‘only’ and ‘even’ should be placed after the word they intend to modify.


Only he worked for two hours.

*Adjective should not be used for adverbs; as-


Incorrect: He returned quicker than i expected.
Correct: He returned more quickly than i expected.

*’Very’ modifies present principle and ‘much’ modifies past principle.


That problem was very irritating.
She was much annoyed with him.
[Exception: I am very pleased. / She was feeling very tired ]

3. Verb,infinitive,verbal noun, gerund,participle:

*In case of two nouns or pronouns connected by ‘not only….but also’ the verb agrees with the second noun or pronoun.


Not only the teacher but also the student were ready to go.

*When two subjects are joined by ‘as well as’ the verb agrees with the first of them.


The principal as well as the professor was present in the students’ meeting.

*No future after temporal conjunctions.[The clauses beginning with ‘until’, ‘when’, ‘before’, ‘after’ and ‘if’ etc. remain in the present tense]


If it rains he will not come.
When he goes there, he will meet his friend.

*’Either’ ‘Neither’ ‘Each’, ‘everyone’, ‘None’ must be followed by a singular verb.


Either of these two boys is at fault.
None of these five girls has book.

*’None’ when used alone takes plural verb though it looks properly singular; as, none are so deaf as those who will not hear.

*If the singular subjects are preceded by ‘each’ or ‘every’ the verb is usually singular; as, Every man and every women was shocked at the news of the death of Jawahar Lal Nehru.

*If two singular nouns refer to the same person or thing the verb must be singular;as, The poet and scholar has been awarded a merit award. N.B- The article is used only once when two nouns refer to the same person.if different persons are referred to,the would be used before both the nouns; as- The poet and the scholar are dead.

*When the subject of the verb is a relative pronoun,the relative should be used to his true antecedent or antecedents to regulate the number and person of that verb accordingly;as,


: Correct- Shakespeare was one of the greatest geniuses that have ever lived.
Incorrect- Shakespeare was one of the greatest geniuses that has ever lived.

*When the verb comes before its subject it may agree with the first only and be understood of the rest.


Here is described the charm and loveliness of the srinagar valley.
Such was the tact,intelligence and heroism of the leader.

*present perfect tense,since it denotes present time,cannot be qualified with any adverb or adverbial phrase denoting past time as ‘last’,’formerly’,’ago’,’yesterday’,etc. as- Correct: I met him yesterday.
Incorrect: I have met him yesterday.

*Continuous tense in place of perfect continuous is incorrect when time is mentioned or implied;as- Correct: I have been doing this work for four hours.
Incorrect: I am doing this work for 4 hours.

The participle should not be left without agreement or with no agreement at all;as- Correct: As he was trying to escape,his enemy overpowered him.
Incorrect: Trying to escape,his enemy overpowered him. Correct: It being a cold day,he could not go out.
Incorrect: Being a cold day,he could not go out.

If a pronoun preceds a gerund,it must normally be possessive; as- Correct- I do not like his mixing with bad people.
Incorrect- I do not like him mixing with bad people.

The infinitive without ‘to’ is used after the phrases,’had better’,’had rather’,’would much rather’,’as soon as’ etc.


You had better leave me alone here.
I would much rather die than yield to pressure.
He would as soon walk as ride.

A gerund and not an infinitive is used after the verbs ‘hinder’,’present’,’persist’,’prohibit’,’succeed’ ,’aim’,’fond’, ‘despair’,’think’, as- Correct: Do not prevent him from singing.
Incorrect: Do not prevent him to sing.
Correct: I am thinking of going there.
Incorrect: I am thinking to go there.

4.Conjunctions,prepositions (Some important rules):

‘No sooner’ is followed by ‘than’ and not by ‘but’ or ‘then’ or ‘when’ or ‘that’.


No sooner had he left the college,than it began to rain.

‘scarcely’ and ‘hardly’ are followed by ‘when’ and not by ‘then’,’than’ or ‘that’.


He had scarcely reached the office,when it began to rain.
He had hardly finished his speech,when the audience began to applaud him thunderously.

when ‘such’ and ‘same’ are used as adjectives they are followed by the conjunction ‘as’ and not by ‘who’ or ‘which’.


I like such persons as are hard working.
It is the same book as i bought yesterday.

When ‘such’ is used as a pronoun,in the beginning of a sentence,it is followed by ‘that’ and not by ‘as’.


Such was his ambition that could never be curbed.

The conjunction ‘both’ should be followed by ‘and’ and not by ‘as well as’.


Correct: Both Hari and his friend were present.
Incorrect: Both Hari and his friend was present.

The conjunction ‘unless’ and ‘until’ are in themselves negative and,therefore they should not be used in a negative clause.


Correct: I shall not come,until i am invited.
Incorrect: I shall not come,until i am not invited.
Correct: You will fail surely,unless you work hard. Incorrect: You will fail surely,unless you do not work hard.

When ‘since’ is used as a conjunction,it is never preceded and is always followed by a verb in the past indefinite tense.


Correct: Sixteen years have passed since Nehru died.
Incorrect: Sixteen years passed since Nehru has died.

‘Lest’ which means ‘that not’ should not be followed by ‘not’,and is usually followed by ‘should’.


The thief ran away lest he should be caught.

‘At’ is used when speaking of small towns and ‘villages’; in is used with names of countries and large towns.


He lives at Malviya Nagar in Allahabad.

Between is used with reference to two persons or things;’among’ with reference to more than two.


There is no love lost between the two brothers.
The five robbers shared the booty among themselves.

In a perfect or perfect continuous sentence ‘for’ is used for period of time;since is used for point of time.


He has been suffering from fever for ten days.
He has eaten nothing since yesterday.