English Grammar

March 13, 2007

As I promised, I am posting my notes here. They are pointers and I do not intend to give very descriptive rules as it would not coax you to look into a book and learn them properly with any exceptions which the rules may have. This is meant to help you know what to look for and which rules are important. I am sure it will help a lot.

Verb-Subject Agreement

  • Error of Proximity
  • Two subjects joined by ‘and’ – plural
  • If both point to the same thing (one thing) – singular
  • Parenthetical words joined to a singular subject – singular (e.g. ‘with’, ‘as well as’)
  • Two or more singular subjects connected by ‘or’, ‘nor’ – singular
  • When one of them is plural – plural (and nearer to it)
  • When subjects of different person joined by ‘or’. ‘nor’ – verb is of person nearer to it
  • Either, neither, each, everyone, many a – singular
  • Each X and every Y – singular
  • Pains, means – singular or plural (depends)
  • Nouns which are plural in meaning – plural (e.g. ‘dozen’ – needs a plural verb)
  • None – plural, but singular also in some cases
  • Collective noun – singular (but if individuals are thought of – plural; e.g. – the team is united. The jury are divided in their decision…because it no more is collective in a sense…)
  • Plural noun is a proper name – singular (e.g. Arabian Nights)
  • Plural noun denote some specific quantity or amount as a whole – singular (e.g. fifteen minutes is..)
  • When ‘each’ or ‘every’ follows a subject, it has no bearing on the verb form.
  • Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives or adverbs.
  • Thence = from there; Whence = from where (use of ‘from’ with these is wrong; from thence is wrong usage)
  • Only Adverb of Manner, Degree & Time admit of comparison
  • Order of Adverbs – Manner, place, time
  • Manner, place are placed after the verb (or object)
  • Frequency, Degree are normally placed between the subject & the verb (if the verb has more than one word, then placed after the first)
  • If the verb is :
    am/are/is/was --> after
    Before <-- be (do) Before <-- have to, used to
  • If adjective (adverb) -- then before the adjective (adverb)
  • But ‘enough’ is always placed after
  • ‘Only’ is placed immediately after the word it modifies
  • ‘Ever’, ‘never’, ‘scarcely’ are often misplaced (e.g. scarcely anyone believes…right; no one scarcely believes…wrong)
  • Seldom or never…right
  • Seldom if ever…right
  • Seldom or ever…wrong
  • ‘Never’ for ‘not’ is wrong. (E.g. He was never born in India…wrong; He was not born in India…right)
  • too = more than enough
  • too != very/much
  • Of course != certainly, undoubtedly
  • Of course = natural or inevitable consequence
Nouns & Pronouns
  • Uncountable nouns do not have plurals. Cannot be used with a/an. (e.g. advice, news, information, luggage, work, business, weather, traffic, scenery, paper, soap, bread, etc.)
  • Possessive Case –
    Living beings, personified objects, space or time (denoting an amount)
    Apposition – ‘s is added to the latter
    Two subjects – when different possession is implied, then both of them has ‘s
    When joint possession is implied, only the latter has ‘s
  • Pronoun after than/as – nominative form (e.g. taller than I) But if verb is missing then objective form can be used. (Taller than me…is also correct)
  • Anybody, everybody, everyone, anyone, each – singular. Gender is as per context
  • ‘One’ should be used throughout
  • ‘None’ – singular/plural – as per context
  • ‘Anyone’ – used only when there are more than two persons
  • Each, either, neither – singular
  • For relative pronouns – verb must agree with antecedent of the relative pronoun
    (e.g. – He is one of the cleverest boys that have passed this year. This is only one of the poems that is worth reading.)
  • Possessive case pronoun cannot be used as antecedent
  • Third person pronoun should not be used as antecedent to who/that
    (e.g. Mucool’s room is so messy that his mother calls him a pig. Him is wrong. Needs an antecedent and there is none. Mucool’s is possessive case. Him should e replaced by mucool)

Like -- to comapre people, things (nouns)
As -- to compare clauses (any phrase that involves a verb)

SUCH AS = For Example
such as != like ...'such as' cannot be substituted for 'like'

Comparisons must be logically and structurally parallel.

Two things -- comparative degree
More things -- superlative degree

Different from -- is correct
Different than -- incorrect

Verb Tense, Mood & Voice

Infinitives -- to + the verb
Split Infinitives are wrong
e.g. to + ___ + Verb ...is wrong...nothing should come in between to and the verb.

PRESENT PERFECT -- have/has + past participle

PAST PERFECT -- Had + past participle
"To have" = "had"
These are correct forms:
has had
had had
Refer Manhattan

If she wins...will give... (present)
If she won...would give...(past)
If she had won...would have given...(future)

COULD/WOULD never appear in the IF clause.

IF vs WHETHER --> Use whether not if, when you have to make a choice.

Subjunctive Mood

If I were...(contrary to reality)

Uncertainity --> Hopes, desires, proposals, requests

Formed using "That"...then plural form to be used for singular subjects.
e.g. It is urgent that she sign...not signs!!
that he be...infinitive form without "to".

Suggested Books : Wren & Martin, Manhattan SC, Kaplan 800, Kaplan Verbal Workbook, Official Guide

Subscribe to the feed to be updated on this post.

You Might Also Like


Follow me on Facebook

About Me

My photo

Nothing much. Love capturing the essence of a beautiful place with my camera. Helps me appreciate the endless beauty around us. Like to tinker with stuff. Have a long wish list.