Civil Service Examination Coverage: English/Identifying Sentence Errors

Identification of error is a type of test where one needs to identify the grammatical errors in a sentence.

The main goal is to recognize which part of a sentence, if any, consists of the “error”. The sentence either has a single error or no error at all. This task becomes much easier if you know which kinds of sentence errors are most common. An example of a common sentence error is improper location or tense of a participial phrase. Be aware of dangling participles too; these can reduce a sentence’s clarity.

The test writers, however, are extremely adept at camouflaging the mistake in each sentence—if you don’t know what to look for, you can easily find yourself assuming there’s no error in as many as half of the sentences.
In answering the Identification of Error type of exam, the following reminders should be kept in mind:

You should know the function of the different parts of speech in a sentence.

Example:

  • She cooks real good. (incorrect)
  • She cooks really well. (correct)

Observe the subject-verb agreement.

Example:

  • Every child are special. (incorrect)
  • Every moment is cherished. (correct)

Parallelism is also observed. Various words in the sentence should follow the same concept where all are written in the same tense.

Example:

  • Writing, encoding and of the proper process of email are my tasks daily. (incorrect)
  • Writing, encoding and processing emails are my tasks daily. (correct)

Modifiers should always be near the word they modify.

Example:

  • Swamped in mud, Jai rescued the puppy. (Incorrect)
  • Swamped in mud, the puppy was rescued by Jai. (Correct)

Sentence should not have repetitive words or redundancy.

Example:

  • She will return back what she borrowed next Sunday. (incorrect
  • She will return what she borrowed next Sunday. (correct)

Agreement of pronoun to its antecedent.

Example:

  • Sarah and Shawna went to the store, but she could not find what she was looking for. (incorrect)
  • Sarah and Shawna went to the store, but they could not find what she was looking for. (correct)

Incorrect use of gerund

Example:

  • Mark and Ace sharing ideas about business. (incorrect)
  • Mark and Ace are sharing ideas about business. (correct)

Uses of preposition

Example:

  • We’ll meet in 6 o’clock. (incorrect)
  • We’ll meet at 6 o’clock. (correct)

Uses of conjunction

Example:

  • Because he was not ready therefore we left without him. (incorrect)
  • Because he was not ready, we left without him. (correct)

Relative pronouns

Example:

  • Mr. Jason, which is my boss, shall have a visit tomorrow. (incorrect)
  • Mr. Jason, who is my boss, shall have a visit tomorrow. (correct)

Sources: Insignia Review Center – CHQ Institute Inc.

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