1. Some nouns always take a singular verb.
Scenery, advice, information, machinery, stationery, furniture, abuse,
fuel, rice, gram, issue, bedding, repair, news, mischief, poetry,
business, economics, physics, mathematics, classic, ethics, athletics,
(A) The scenery of Kashmir are enchanting. (Incorrect)
(B) The scenery of Kashmir is enchanting. (Correct)
(A) He has given advices. (Incorrect)
(B) He has given advice. (Correct)
(A) The Indian team defeated the English by innings. (Incorrect)
(B) The Indian team defeated the English by an innings. (Correct)
(A) Mathematics are a difficult subject. (Incorrect)
(B) Mathematics is a good / difficult subject. (Correct)
Note if you have to indicate that the number of news, advice,
information or furniture is more than one, the examples listed below can
(A) I have a lot of news to tell you. (Incorrect)
(B) He has sold many pieces of his furniture. (Correct)
2. Some nouns are singular in form, but they are used as plural nouns and always take a plural verb.
Cattle, gentry, vermin, peasantry, artillery, people, clergy, company, police.
(A) The cattle is grazing in the ground. (Incorrect)
(B) The cattle are grazing in the ground. (Correct)
(A) The clergy is in the church. (Incorrect)
(B) The clergy are in the church. (Correct)
3. Some nouns are always used in a plural form and always take a plural verb.
Trousers, scissors, spectacles, stockings, shorts, measles, goods, alms, premises, thanks, tidings, annals, chattels, etc.
(A) Where is my trousers? Incorrect
(B) Where are my trousers? Correct
(A) Spectacles is now a costly item. Incorrect
(B) Spectacles are now a costly item. Correct
4. There are some nouns that indicate length, measure, money, weight or number. When they are preceded by a numeral, they remain unchanged in form.
Foot, meter, pair, score, dozen, head, year, hundred, thousand, million.
(A) It is a three – years degree course. Incorrect
(B) It is a three – year degree course. Correct
(A) I have ten dozens of shoes. Incorrect
(B) I have ten dozen of shoes. Correct
Collective nouns such a jury, public, team, committee, government,
audience, orchestra, company, etc. are used both as singular; otherwise
the verb will be plural
(A) The jury was divided in this case. Incorrect
(B) The jury were divided in this case. Correct
(A) The team have not come as yet. Incorrect
(B) The team has not come as yet. Correct
6. Some nouns have one meaning in the singular and another in the plural:
Advice = counsel advices = information
Air = atmosphere airs = proud
Authority = command, authorities = persons in power
Good = wise goods = property
Iron = metal irons = fetters, chains
Force = strength forces = army
Content = satisfaction, contents = things contained
Physic = medicine physics = physical sciences,
Respect = regards respects = compliments
Work = job works = compositions, factories,.
Earning = income earnings = showings
Quarter = one – fourth quarters = houses
(A) Air is necessary for human life.
(B) It is bad to put on airs.
(A) I have eaten one quarter of the cake.
(B) I live in the government quarters.
7. People are often confused or they commit mistake in the use of certain nouns.
(A) Lecturership is wrong: lectureship is correct.
(a) There are twenty candidates for lecturership. Incorrect
(b) There are twenty candidates for lectureship. Correct
(B) Freeship is wrong; free – studentship is correct.
(a) Ramesh has applied for freeship. Incorrect
(b) Ramesh has applied for free – studentship. Correct
(C) Boarding is wrong; boarding house is correct.
(a) Mohan lives in a boarding. Incorrect
(b) Mohan lives in a boarding house. Correct
(D) Family members is wrong; members of the family is correct.
(a) Vivek and Ramesh are my family members. Incorrect
(b) Vivek and Ramesh are the members of my family. Correct
(E) English teacher is wrong; the teacher of English is correct.
(a) Dr. Raina is our English teacher. Incorrect
(b) Dr. Raina is our teacher of English. Correct
(F) Cousin – brother or sister is wrong; only cousin is correct.
(a) Geeta is my cousin sister. Incorrect
(b) Geeta is my cousin. Correct
(G) Room in a compartment or a bench means unoccupied set.
(a) There is no room on this bench. Correct
(H) Our, yours, hers, theirs are correct.
(a) This house is our’s. Incorrect
(b) This house is ours. Correct
Note: The same principle applies to ‘yours ‘, ‘hers’ and ‘theirs’.
(I) Wages means punishments when used in singular.
(a) The wages of sin is death.
(J) It also means charges for the labour when used in plural sense.
(b) The wages of daily workers have been raised.
8. Also remember the subtle difference in the usage of these pairs of nouns
(A) The noun ‘habit’ applies only to an individual whereas ‘custom’ applies to a society or country.
(a) Poor children often become a victim of bad habits.
(b) Tribal in India have many interesting customs.
(B) ‘Cause’ product a result, while ‘reason’ explains or justifies a cause.
(a) Scientists try to find out the cause of a phenomenon.
(b) You have a good reason to be pleased with your students.
(C) ‘Man’ is used in ordinary sense while ‘gentleman’ is a man of character.
(a) Man is mortal.
(b) He is a gentleman at large.
(D) ‘Men’ – plural of man: ‘people’ is used for persons.
(a) There are five men in the room.
(b) The people of Bihar are simple.
(E) ‘Shade’ – a place sheltered from the sun; ‘shadow’ – the shade of a distinct form or object.
(a) The villagers sat under the shade of trees.
(b) He is even afraid of his own shadow.
(F) ‘Cost’ – amount paid by the shopkeeper; ‘price’ – amount paid by the customer.
(a) The cost of production of automobile items has gone up.
(b) Sometimes the buyers have to pay higher price for necessary items.
(G) ‘House’ – a building to live in: ‘Home’ – one’s native place.
(a) Quarters area houses allotted to us for a definite period.
(b) My home town is Muzaffapur.
(H) ‘House’ – a building to live in; ‘Home’ – one’s native place.
(a) The shopkeepers welcome customer with smiles.
(b) The lawyer discusses the cases of his clients.
9. A pronoun must agree with its antecedent in person, number and gender.
Every man must bring his luggage.
All students must do their home work.
Each of the girls must carry her own bag.
Each students must bring their books.
Each student must bring his books.
While using ‘everybody’ ‘everyone’, ‘anybody’, and ‘each’ the pronoun
of the masculine or the feminine gender is used according to the
I shall be happy to help each of the boys in this practice.
But when the sex is not mentioned, we use the pronoun of the masculine gender.
Anyone can do this job if he tries.
Each of the six boys in the class has finished their tasks.
Each of the six boys in the class has finished his task.
11. The pronoun ‘one’ must be followed by ‘one’s’.
One must finish his task in time. Incorrect
One must finish one’s task in time. Correct
Enjoy, apply, resign, acquit, drive, exert, avail, pride, absent, etc.,
when used as transitive verbs, always take a reflexive pronoun after
them. When ‘self’ is added to ‘my’, ‘your’, ‘him’, ‘her’, and ‘it’, and
‘selves’ to our and them – they are known as reflexive pronouns.
He absented from the class.
He absented himself form the class.
13. ‘Who’ denotes the subject and ‘whom’ is used for the object?
Whom do you think won the award? Incorrect
Who do you think won the award? Correct
Who area you talking to? Incorrect
Whom are your talking to? Correct
14. When two or more singular nouns are joined together by ‘either or’; ‘neither nor’, ; and ‘or’, the pronoun is singular.
Either Ram or Shyam will give their book. Incorrect
Either Ram or shyam will give his book. Correct
15. When a singular and a plural noun are joined by ‘or’, ‘nor’, the pronoun must be plural.
Either the engineer or his mechanics failed in his duty. Incorrect
Either the engineer or his mechanics failed in their duty. Correct
16. ‘Whose’ is used for living persons and ‘which’ for lifeless objects.
Which book did you select? Incorrect
Whose photograph is lying there? Correct
What book do you read? Incorrect
Which book do you read? Correct
17. ‘Each other’ is used when there are two subjects or objects and ‘one another’ when there are more than two.
Rameo and Juliet loved each other
Those five friends, who are sitting there, love one another.
All the students of the class are friendly; they love each other. Incorrect
All the students of the class are friendly. Correct
When a pronoun stands for a collective noun, it must be in the singular
number and in the neuter gender if the collective noun is viewed as a
The jury gave ‘its’ verdict.
Here the ‘jury’ gives the idea of one whole.
If the collective noun conveys the idea of separate individuals
comprising the whole, the pronoun standing for it must be plural.
The jury were divided in their opinions.
Here, the ‘jury’ gives the idea of several individuals.
The team are divided in this opinion about playing on Sunday. Incorrect
The team are divided in their opinion about playing on Sunday. Correct
If pronouns of different persons are to be used together in a sentence,
the serial order of persons should be as follows; second person + third
+ first person in a good normal sentences. But in fault is to be
confessed, the order will be; first person + second person + third
You, he and I have finished the work. Normal sentences
I, you and he are to blame. Confession [memory tool-Put urself first in bad sense/bad works :)]
Ram, I and you have finished our studies. Incorrect
You, Ram and I have finished our studies. Correct
20. ‘Some’ is used in affirmative sentences to express quantity or degree. ‘Any’ is uses in negative or interrogative sentences.
I shall buy some apples.
I shall not buy any apples.
Have you bought any apples?
But ‘some’ may be correctly used in interrogative sentences which are, in fact, requests.
Will you please give me some milk?
I shall read any book. Incorrect
I shall read some book. Correct
Have you bought some apples? Incorrect
Have you bought any apples? Correct
21. The use of ‘few’, ‘a few’’ and ‘the few’ should be used with care. They denote ‘number’.
‘Few’ means ‘not many’. It is the opposite of many. A ‘few’ is positive
and means ‘some at least’. It is the opposite of none. ‘The few’ means
‘whatever there is’.
A few men are free from fault. Incorrect
Few men are free from fault. Correct
Here the sense is negative and thus ‘a few’ is wrong.
Few boys will pass in the examination. Incorrect
A few boys will pass in the examination. Correct
Here the sense is positive and thus ‘few’ is incorrect.
I have already read a few books that are on the bookshelf. Incorrect
I have already read t he few books that are on the bookshelf. Correct
Here the sense is ‘whatever there is’.
22. Use of ‘less’ and ‘fewer’
‘Less’ denote quantity and ‘fewer’ denote number.
No less than fifty persons were killed. Incorrect
No fewer than fifty persons were killed. Correct
There are no fewer than five litres of water in the jug. Incorrect
There are no less than five litres of water in the jug. Correct
23. Use of little, a little, the little.
‘Little’ means ‘hardly any’
There is a little hope of his recovery. Incorrect
There is a little hope of his recovery correct
‘A little’ means ‘some’, though not much.
Little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Incorrect
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Correct
‘The little means ‘not much but all there is’.
The little milk that is in the pot may be used for the patient. Incorrect
The little milk that is in the pot may be used for the patient. Correct
24. Use of elder, older.
‘Older’ refers to persons as well as things and is followed by ‘than’.
Ram is elder than all other boys of this area. Incorrect
Ram is older than all other boys of this area. Correct
‘Elder’ is used for members of the family.
Suresh is my older brother. Incorrect
Suresh is my elder brother. Correct
normally ‘than’ is used in the comparative degree, but with words like
superior, inferior, senior, junior, prior, anterior, posterior and
prefer ‘to’ is used.
Shelley is junior than Wordsworth. Incorrect
Shelley is junior to Wordsworth. Correct
I prefer reading than sleeping. Incorrect
I prefer reading to sleeping. Correct
when a comparison is made by using a comparative followed by ‘than’,
the word ‘other’ must be exclude the thing compared form the class of
things with which it is compared.
He is stronger than any man. Incorrect
He is stronger than any other man. Correct
‘Any man’ includes the man himself and thus the sentences will be absurd.
27. In some cases, the comparison is subtle and must be given proper attention.
The climate of Ranchi is better then Gaya. Incorrect
Here the comparison should be between the climate of Ranchi and the climate of Gaya.
The climate of Ranchi is better than the climate of Gaya. Correct
The climate of Ranchi is better than that of Gaya. Correct
‘That of’ means ‘the climate of’
If the traits are in plural, it will be ‘those of’.
The clothes of DCM are better than those of Mafatalal.
The scenery of Kashmir is better than Shimla. Incorrect
The scenery of Kashmir is better than that of shimla. Correct
28. ‘many a’ is always followed by the singular verb.
Many a man were followed by the singular verb. Incorrect
Many a man was drowned in the area. Correct
29. If the subject is ‘the number of’ the singular verb is used.
The number of students are very small. Incorrect
The number of students is very small. Correct
When ‘as well as’, ‘along with’, together with’, ‘no less than’, ‘in
addition to’ and ‘not’ and ‘with’ join two subjects, the verb will be
according to the first subject.
Ram, as well as his ten friends, are going. Incorrect
Ram, as well as his ten friends, is going. Correct
The teacher, along with the students, were going. Incorrect
The teacher, along with the students, was going. Correct
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