This post is part of our special series “100 Tips To Solve ‘Spot The Error’ English Questions“
How to use VERBS
- If there are two subjects in a sentence with different numbers, then both subjects should have their separate auxiliaries (auxiliary eg: is, are, am, was, were, have, has, etc).
Incorrect – In the ATM robbery, three robbed and one were killed.
Correct – In the ATM robbery, three were robbed and one was killed.
- For two subjects one verb should be used, only if the form of the verb is same for both the subjects. Otherwise separate verbs should be used for each subject.
Incorrect – I am eating apple and my sister banana
Correct – I am eating apple and my sister is eating banana.
- Two auxiliaries can be used with one principal Verb, only when the form of the principal Verb is appropriate to both the auxiliaries.
Incorrect – The CEO never has, and never will take such partial decision.
Correct – The CEO never has taken, and never will take such partial decision.
- When there are two principal verbs, auxiliary should be associated correctly with both.
Incorrect – Fifty nine students have passed, only one failed.
Correct – Fifty nine students have passed, only one has failed.
- If there the verb is a past tense in main clause, then subordinate clause should have a part tense verb.
Incorrect – He died because he drinks too much alcohol.
Correct – He died because he drank too much alcohol.
- Even though main clause is past tense, subordinate clause can have a present tense verb if the subordinate clause depicts universal truth.
Incorrect – Mother said that gravity was pulling everything to earth’s surface.
Correct – Mother said that gravity is pulling everything to earth’s surface.
- The auxiliary verb “should” be used, when the subordinate clause comes after “lest”, irrespective of the verb tense in the main clause.
Incorrect – We walk fast lest we shall miss the bus.
Correct – We walk fast lest we should miss the bus.
- An adverb or adverbial phrase should not come between “to” and the “infinitive part of the verb”. (This is split infinitive)
Incorrect – He hoped to immediately catch the bus.
Correct – He hoped to catch the bus immediately.
- Unless an infinitive represents an action prior to the governing verb, it should be in the present tense.
Incorrect – I should have liked to have gone there.
Correct- I should have liked to go there.
- Pronoun should be in Possessive case if gerund is preceded by pronoun.
Incorrect – I emphasized me going there.
Correct – I emphasized my going there.
- For the action that began in past and is still continuing, present perfect continuous tense should be used.
Incorrect – How long are you eating this apple?
Correct – How long have you been eating this apple?
- A Verb when preceded by a Preposition must be the Gerund.
Incorrect – The students were punished for come late
Correct – The students were punished for coming late.
- If the clause of the sentence has mention of “time, place or condition”, then present indefinite tense is used instead of past indefinite tense.
Incorrect – Headmaster shall wait till Principal will finish his speech.
Correct – Headmaster shall wait till Principal finish his speech.
- With the adverbs of Past Time, past indefinite tense is used and not the present indefinite tense is used.
Incorrect – When he reached the station, train already left.
Correct – When he reached the station, train had already left.
- Two Modal auxiliaries cannot be used together. But two auxiliaries can be connected with conjunction.
Incorrect – She should must eat dinner to avoid weakness.
Correct – She should and must eat dinner to avoid weakness.
- If “need or dare” is followed by “not”, it turns into modal auxiliary. In that situation it takes bare infinitive and plural form cannot be used.
Incorrect – This needs not be done.
Correct – This need not be done.
To view all the posts in this series, go to — “100 Tips To Solve ‘Spot The Error’ English Questions“