English Usage Errors



      12.       English Usage Errors                                                                                                         

12.1    Types of Errors

12.1.1    Errors in Case

12.1.2    Error in Subject Verb Agreement

12.1.3    Error in the Tense or Form of a Verb

12.1.4    Error in Subjunctive Mood

12.1.5    Error in Comparison

12.1.6    Error in the use of Adjective for Adverb or Vice-Versa

12.1.7    Error of Parallel Construction

12.1.8    Error in Diction or Idiom

12.2    Types of Common Errors

12.2.1    Common Errors in the Use of Articles

12.2.2    Common Errors in the Use of Nouns

12.2.3    Common Errors in the Use of Pronouns

12.2.4    Common Errors in the Use of Adjectives

12.2.5    Common Errors in the Use of Verbs

12.2.6    Common Errors in the Use of Adverbs

12.2.7    Common Errors in the Use of Prepositions

12.2.8    Common Errors in the Use of Conjunction

12.2.9    Common Errors in the Use of Tenses

12.2.10 Common Errors in the Use of Modals




Questions of error finding are asked in almost every objective English test. This is basically to test the knowledge of English grammar or written English. You are expected to know the basic grammar (such as subject-verb agreement, pronoun-antecedent agreement, correct verb, tenses, to recognize dangling participle, use of correct phrasal verb etc.) to solve such questions.


The whole sentence is divided into four or five parts .You have to find out whether there is any error in it. The error if any will be in one part of the sentence. You have to trace the error and mention the alphabet of that part as you answer. If there is no error in the sentence, then mention ‘e’ as your answer which is ‘No error’.



 The government felt badly /about the disclosure of arms gate

                    (a)                           (b)

 Scam/ which put her/ in an embarrassing situation. / No error

                      (c)                          (d)                        (e)


The error is in part (a).The verb ‘felt’ should be followed by predicative adjective ‘bad’ in place of adverb ‘badly’.            

Sometimes, we commit various types of errors, in our day-to-day conversation and writing assignments due to inadequate knowledge of grammar. The grammar helps us in detecting such errors and provides accuracy to our knowledge. As a matter of fact, we must know where we are wrong and how we should avoid these common errors in our language. One has to be well-versed with all the rules of the grammar in order to detect and avoid the errors committed in a sentence.


12.1 Types of Errors:

12.1.1 Error in case

Example: Let we try to forget our differences and work untidily for prosperity.

In this sentence, there is an error of case. Case problems usually involve personal pronouns which in nominative case (I, we, he, she, they, who) are used as a subject or predicate nominative or complement to the verb ‘to be’. In the objective case (me, us, his, her them, whom), they are used as direct object, indirect object and object to the preposition.

In the sentence, ‘let’ is a preposition, so the personal pronoun ‘we’ used as an object to ‘let’ should be put in objective ca ‘us’ to correct the error.


12.1.2 Error in subject verb agreement

What is subject, verb agreement? As you know subject and verb are essential parts of a sentence and a sentence is said to be in agreement when the verb agrees, with the subject in person and number. When the verb does not agree with the subject in number and person it is called the error of subject verb agreement.


Example: Prime Minister, along with his cabinet colleagues, are facing severe criticism for shielding the corrupt.

This sentence contains the error of subject, verb agreement. Now trace the subject for the verb ‘are’. In the sentence, Prime Minister, along with his cabinet colleagues  has been wrongly made the subject for the ‘verb’ are because phrases like ‘along with’, ‘as well as’ and ‘in addition to’ that are place in between the subject and verb, but do not affect the verb. The subject for the verb ‘are’ is ‘Prime Minister’ (singular). Then the verb must be in singular ‘is’.


12.1.3 Error in the tense or form of a verb

It is necessary that a sentence must be in proper sequence of tense to express the meaning of the sentence correctly.

Example: After the sun set a cool breeze sprang up and brought relief from the heat.

You should always read the sentence to make sure that verb in the sentence is in proper sequence of tenses so that it is clear what happened when. According to the sentence, the breeze did not spring up until the sun had set. Now it is clear from the meaning that the action of setting had taken place before the breeze sprang up. It makes a case of past perfect which refers to two actions, the earlier one is denoted by past perfect and later one is by past simple.

The sentence should be: After the sun had set, a cool breeze sprang up and brought relief from the heat.


12.1.4 Error in subjunctive mood

The subjunctive mood is used to indicate a condition contrary to fact or an unreal present.

Example: If I will be the defence minister, I would have checked the corruption in defence deals.

  “If I will be the defence minister”, it is a statement which is not real but contrary to the fact because I cannot be a defence minister. So it is a case of past subjunctive mood. In such cases ‘were’ is used as a verb after the clause beginning with ‘If’.


12.1.5 Error in comparison

Example: I have to choose either biology or math, I do not know which is the best.

As we know, when we compare two things, we should use comparative degree of comparisons instead of superlative degree.


12.1.6 Error in the use of adjective for adverb or vice-versa

Example: Laxman did good when brought to play first down.

In the sentence (a), good (adjective) is modifying ‘did’ (verb). An adjective can’t modify verb but an adverb can do. This can be understood by sentence as “How did Laxman do? He did well”. ‘Well’ is an adverb it should be used instead of ‘good’. Without bringing any change in the meaning of the sentence.


12.1.7 Error of parallel construction

Logical, similar and equal ideas need similar structural form. This is called parallel construction of sentence.

Example: The government should try to eradicate poverty provide safe drinking water and raise the standard of living of its people.

In this sentence logical and similar ideas have been expressed in similar structural form as ‘to eradicate poverty … to provide safe drinking water …. and to raise the standard of its people’ to express clear and exact meaning.


12.1.8 Error in diction or idiom

Example: The affect of the quake could be seen where in Kutch region of Gujarat.

You will find the subject ‘The affect’ is not the proper subject. Because “affect” is a verb word meaning “to influence” and is wrongly used for ‘effect’ (noun) meaning “The result or outcome” so the sentence should be “the effect of quake could be seen everywhere in the Kutch region of Gujarat”.


12.2 Types of Common Errors:

Sometimes we commit errors when we speak or write. Some errors are very common. Such errors are termed as common errors. The errors commonly occur in the parts of speech.


12.2.1 Common Errors in the use of Articles


1) He is better soldier than statesman.

Correct answer: He is a better soldier than a statesman.

2) The magistrate and collector were present.

Correct answer: The magistrate and the collector were present.


12.2.2 Common Errors in the use of Nouns


1) Four hundreds people were killed in the communal riots in the city.

Correct answer: Four hundred people were killed in the communal riots in the city.

2) ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ were written by Swift.

Correct answer: ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ was written by Swift.


12.2.3 Common Errors in the use of Pronouns


1) Suffice to say that all books have been lost.

Correct answer: Suffice it to say that all the books have been lost.

2) Answer any one of the two questions.

Correct answer: Answer either of the two questions.


12.2.4 Common Errors in the use of Adjectives


1) Whole the India mourned the death of the great leader.

Correct answer: The whole of India mourned the death of the great leader.

2) The population of Kolkata is greater than any town in India.

Correct answer: The population of Kolkata is greater than that of any other town in India.


12.2.5 Common Errors in the use of Verbs


1) Every chair and every table in the room were in order.

Correct answer: Every chair and every table in the room was in order.

2) She insisted on her brother going with her.

Correct answer: She insisted on her brother’s going with her.


12.2.6 Common Errors in the use of Adverbs


1) Hari walks quicker than Moti.

Correct answer: Hari walks more quickly than Moti.

2) He is somewhat tall for his age.

Correct answer: He is rather tall for his age.


12.2.7 Common Errors in the use of Prepositions


1) The boy fell in the well.

Correct answer: The boy fell into the well.

2) I have no house to live.

Correct answer: I have no house to live in.


12.2.8 Common Errors in the use of Conjunction


1) Both you as well as your friend are right.

Correct answer: Both you and your friend are right.

2) Two years passed since I bought this house.

Correct answer: Two years have passed since I bought this house.


12.2.9 Common Errors in the use of Tenses


1) Some days passed since I saw him.

Correct answer: Some says have passed since I saw him.

2) I am working since midnight.

Correct answer: I have been working since midnight.


12.2.10 Common Errors in the use of Modals


1) My boy, you must not have spoken this,

Correct answer: My boy, you should not have spoken this.

2) I cannot accept your challenge; you are too strong.

Correct answer: I dare not accept your challenge; you are too strong.


Exercise for practice

1.  The government decided to   write of the debts of the farmers who were below

                      (A)                            (B)                             (C)


     The poverty line.  No error

                (D)              (E)


2.  One should make   his best efforts if one wishes   to achieve   success in this organization.

                (A)                            (B)                           (C)                       (D)

      No error



3.  He is a man of   independent temperament   and does not   lean against anybody.

              (A)                          (B)                          (C)                     (D)

     No error



4.  He stood first  in English in the last examination and so his proud is  great.  No error

             (A)                   (B)                              (C)                       (D)       (E)


5.  Chemical engineering  was not originally  science-based  in the same as electrical

             (A)                      (B)                        (C)                        (D)


     engineering.  No error


6.  Under circumstances like these,  even minor technical developments



     Can trigger off marked changes  in the pattern   of transport.  No error

                      (B)                             (C)               (D)            (E)


7.  In spite of the workload yesterday  Nit in manages to play  it cool and continued

                       (A)                                 (B)                          (C)


     With his work as usual.  No error

                 (D)                  (E)


8.  The demand of the workers  union that the dismissed  employee to reinstated 

                   (A)                                (B)                               (C)


     Has been accepted by the management.  No error

                               (D)                           (E)


9.  We don’t deny  you right to know  whatever happened while  you were not in the office.

              (A)                  (B)                         (C)                                  (D)

    No error



10.  You may not always  get whatever you deserve  but that does not be little

                   (A)                             (B)                              (C)

  The importance for  your work.  No error

                    (D)                          (E)



  1. (B)               2.  (B)                    3.(D)                     4 .(C)                     5 .(E)    

     6. (A)               7.  (B)                    8.(C)                      9. (E)                     10.(D)