As the name suggests, these questions ask you to correct a sentence. That is, of course, because it is wrong in the first place (but not necessarily so). They are asked on a number of tests because they do not only check your ability to spot an error, but also to correct it. Hence, your grammar abilities are put to some real test in these questions.
Let us first see how these questions are framed. Sentence(s) will be given to you, and a part of a sentence or the entire sentence will be underlined. Now, from the options given, you have to select the one which you think should replace the underlined part. Normally, the underlined part of the sentence is the first option. This is because the given statement might be correct and have no error(s).
Thus, there’s the possibility that there might be no error in the statement, so you first have to analyse if there is any error at all. These questions can end up eating up your time, so make sure that you do not give yourself more than a minute or two to solve a sentence correction question. Anything beyond that is considered too much for such questions.
Even if grammar is not your strong point, you can still manage to crack these questions by looking at the types of questions asked, and what kind of errors to search for in a question. We have covered some of the errors in the previous posts.
How to Solve Sentence Correction Questions
- Understand the given sentence, including the part that is not underlined. This way, you would be able to grasp the context and verb tense of the event or information talked about.
- Reread the underlined part; if you are sure that there is no error, then just select the option which mentions the underlined part as the correct option.
- If you get to know the error (s) in the underlined part, then correct it without looking at options; if you spotted the errors and corrected them appropriately, your answer would be there in the options.
- If you have not been able to identify the error, but still think that the underlined part is not right, then start checking on the ‘grammar mistakes’ we mentioned in the previous sections.
- After selecting the option you think is correct, it is always advisable to reread the statement(s) given in the question with the corrected part to see if you have followed the right tense and everything is in line with the context of the sentences before or after the underlined portion.
Tips to Solve Sentence Correction Questions
- Mostly, the sentence would look logically incorrect if modifiers are incorrectly used, or if the verb tenses are not appropriate or consistent. You can read more about verb tenses and modifiers in the previous posts.
- A redundant sentence might look wrong, but it could still be the answer if the other options are logically or grammatically incorrect, or if they change the intended meaning.
- Idioms can be tricky, as you may think that the statement sounds awkward, but then it would be a correct idiom. So, make sure you are in the know when it comes to idioms.
- Words like ‘during’, ‘before’ will help you know the time of the event, and hence the appropriate verb tense.
- If you have been unable to spot an error in the underlined part, then you can check how the given options vary to see which grammatical concept(s) is/are being tested, and then see if the underlined portion is the best one.
- VPIMPS is the acronym for the most commonly tested errors in grammar. So if you think a sentence is not right, but not quite sure why, you can just check the VPIMPS: (a) Verbs (b) Parallelism (c) Idioms (d) Modification (e) Pronouns (f) Sentence structure
- Overlooking the rest of the sentence : In order to save time, some students just look at the underlined part, avoid the correct part of the sentence altogether and try to select the correct option. There is a reason why the underlined section exists: telling you the context and the tense. Make sure you do not miss out on that.
- Not paying attention to the directions: The directions for these type of questions clearly state that you have to choose the option that would best replace the underlined part. Nowhere is it mentioned that you have to only pay heed to the grammar of the sentence. It should be a complete sentence that makes sense, for e.g., if you have two options that both seem grammatically correct, then check for usage errors and find out which part (when in line with the completed sentence) makes the most sense.
From Beginner to Mastery
Directions : In each of the following examples a part of sentence has been underlines. From the choices given, you are required to choose the one which would best replaced the underlined part.
- I fell up the stairs.
(a) fell up
(b) fell down
(c) fell at
(d) fall off
Explanation (b) When one trips and falls from the stairs, it is assumed that they will fall down and not ‘up’, or ‘at’ or ‘off’.
- I have been there often, because it had to be a nice place.
(a) had to be a nice place.
(b) must be nice going there.
(c) is a nice place.
(d) I felt so.
Explanation (c) The speaker says that he/she has been there often. This means that probably he/she thinks that it is a decent place. Since, this is experienced in the present tense, therefore the reason should be in the present tense too. Thus, option (c) becomes the most appropriate answer.
- My chances of winning the lottery is similar to you.
(a) winning the lottery is similar to you
(b) winning the lottery is similar to yours
(c) having won the lottery is to yours.
(d) winning the lottery are similar to yours.
Explanation (d) When we are comparing the fate of two people, we have to compare the fates and not the two peoples. If we say, ‘My chances of winning the lottery is similar to you,’ it means that we are comparing the person and the fate, whereas when we say ‘My chances of winning the lottery are similar to you,’ we are comparing the two fates.
- Yesterday, I will have nothing to do.
(a) I will have nothing to do.
(b) I had nothing to do.
(c) was full of boredom.
(d) I would have nothing to do.
Explanation (b) Here, because of the use of the ‘yesterday’, the sentence is considered to be acting out in the past tense. Thus, option (b) is correct.
- I was a bit surprised to see a call from an unknown number, so first of all I asked “What are you?”
(a) Which are you
(b) Who are you
(c) Why did you call
(d) How are you
Explanation (b) This one is easy. When we talk of people/person, we use the pronoun: ‘Who’.
- Victory is everything in the Indian universe and Tendulkar will be expected to translate his genius to that effect. To contemplate any other option is to contemplate the risk of failure.
(a) To contemplate any other option is to contemplate the risk of failure.
(b) Failure is not an option that can be contemplated
(c) Any other action has the potential of failure
(d) Failure is not an option.
Explanation (c); The given statement states that a victory is paramount in India and Tendulkar is expected to perform to his potential to make sure that India wins. Thinking about any other possibility could lead to a failure. Now, the given statement sounds redundant, so we have to remove this error and make it simpler and option ‘C’ would do just that.
- If you are on a three-month software design project and, in two weeks, you’re put together a programme that solves part of the problem, show it to your boss without delay.
(a) and, you’ve put together a programme that solves part of the problem in two weeks
(b) and, in two weeks you’ve put together a program that solves part of the problem
(c) and, you’ve put together a programme that has solved part of the problem in two weeks
(d) and, in two weeks you put together a programme that solved only part of the problem
Explanation (b); This one is easy. The position of the phrase: ‘two weeks’ should be in the starting of the clause and not at the end. This leaves us with two options: (b) and (d). option (d) changes the context of the sentence and makes it sound incorrect.
- Many of these environmentalists proclaim to save nothing less than the planet itself.
(a) to save nothing lesser than
(b) that they are saving nothing lesser than
(c) to save nothing less than
(d) that they save nothing less than
Explanation (c); ‘Lesser’ is used while we are comparing two things, but there is no comparison done in the sentence. The word ‘less’ is just used to show the degree or extent of what they are doing or intend to. So, the appropriate word is ‘less.
- Bacon believes that the medical profession should be permitted to ease and quicken death where the end would otherwise only delay for a few days and at the cost of great pain.
(a) be delayed for a few days
(b) be delayed for a few days and
(c) be otherwise only delayed for a few days and
(d) otherwise only delay for a few days and
Explanation (c); The given statement points out the opinion of Bacon: medical profession should be allowed to ease and quicken the death in cases where, not doing so would only delay the death for a few days, and those few days would only bring more pain and trouble to that patient. This question also tests our usage of the verb ‘be’.
- Men’s interest in developing a cure for cancer have promoted the rapid advances in the abstruse field now known as Genetic Engineering.
(a) Men’s interest in developing a cure for cancer have promoted
(b) That men are interested in developing a cure for cancer have promoted
(c) Interest in developing a cure for cancer has promoted
(d) Men’s interest in developing cure for cancer has promoted
Explanation (c); The given sentence is wrong because verb ‘have’ is not in accordance with the noun ‘interest’, because ‘have’ is plural whereas, ‘interest’ is singular. Therefore, the correct combination would be ‘interest…has..’ Option (c) is right, because it has the correct noun-verb pair.
- A little known danger of potent hallucinogens such as lysergic acid deithylamide-25 is that not only is the user immediately disoriented, but also he will experience significant ego suppression for a period of three weeks as well.
(a) but also he will experience significant ego suppression for a period of three weeks as well
(b) also there will be a three-week period of ego suppression as well
(c) the ego is suppressed for a period of three weeks as well
(d) but the user’s ego is suppressed for a period of three weeks in addition
Explanation (d); The underlined sentence will begin with a coordinating conjunction that links the two clauses and only one of the given options has a coordinating conjunction i.e. option (d).
The given sentence is wrong because it is redundant with the usage of ‘also’ and ‘as well’, as they both mean the same. Option (a) and option (b) have the same error. Option (c) is not chosen
because there is no coordinating conjunction for the second clause.
Option (d), i.e. the answer, also follows the correct ‘..not only x…but Y..’ sentence contract as both X and Y are parallel (a grammatically correct sentence would have similar X and Y, i.e. they both will be verbs , adjectives or nouns)
- By the time peace and happiness will have come to the planet, many lives will be wasted.
(a) come to the planet, many lives will have been wasted
(b) will have come to the planet, many lives will have been wasted
(c) shall have come to the planet, many lives shall be wasted
(d) would have come to the planet, many lives would have been wasted
Explanation (a); Both the events discussed in the sentence will take place in the future in such a way that one will take place before another. Hence, we will use the future perfect tense. The event which will happen earlier, or before the specified event employs ‘will have’ and only option (a) has used this tense correctly.
- The leader of the Neanderthal tribe rarely hunted for food, and because of it was never acknowledged as a great hunter.
(a) Because the leader of the Neanderthal tribe rarely hunted for food, he
(b) In that he rarely hunted for food, the leader of the Neanderthal tribe was
(c) Rarely hunting for food was the reason that the leader of the Neanderthal tribe
(d) Hunts were rare, and because of this the leader of the Neanderthal tribe
Explanation (a); The main clause of the sentence is the one which is not underlined, and the one which is underlined is the clause which will reason it, hence our underlined part of the sentence will be the adverbial clause.
Option (a) gives us the appropriate adverbial clause which begins with a subordinate conjunction. Option (b) is wrong because it is ambiguous. Option (c) is redundant and concise when compared with option (a) and option (d) is ambiguous because it is not easily understandable.
- Regardless “new modernism” in literature, which produces novels, which often read like the diaries of madmen, most readers still prefer a conventional plot and simple style.
(a) Regardless of the “new modernism” in literature, which produces
(b) Rega rdless of the “new modernism” literature, which produce
(c) Regardless, the “new modernism” in literature produces
(d) Irregardless of the “new modernism” in literature, which produces
Explanation (a); ‘Regardless’ is an adverb which usually means ‘without regard or consideration for’. Option (a) is correct, because it uses the adverb correctly to form an appropriate adverbial clause.
Option (b) is wrong because ‘new modernism’ refers to the changes brought on in literature, so the preposition ‘in’ should be used there to clear ambiguity and it also has the incorrect verb ‘produce’, it should be ‘produces’ instead.
Option (c) is incorrect, because it uses regardless as an adjective which does not make logical sense.
- A career in the medical profession, which requires an enormous investment of time and money, do not guarantee success as there is so much competition.
(a) which requires an enormous investment of time and money, do not guarantee success as there is so much competition
(b) which requires an enormous investment of time and money, does not guarantee success since there is so much competition
(c) requiring an enormous investment of time and money, and cannot guarantee success because there is so much competition
(d) requires that an enormous investment of time and money be made and success cannot be guaranteed due to competition
Explanation (b); The underlined part ‘which requires an enormous investment of time and money’ forms the adjective clause as it describes ‘medical profession’ and it does so correctly. The remaining underlined part gives us the main clause of the sentence.
The error in the given sentence is in subject verb disagreement. ‘Medical profession’ is a singular noun, hence it should have a singular noun ‘does’ and not ‘do’. Hence, option (b) is correct.
Options (c) and (d) are incorrect, because they do not properly use the required adjective clause.
- The more the union stubbornly refused to budge from its original demand for 20% across-the-board salary increase, the more the company management reiterated its original proposal of a mere 3% raise.
(a) the more the company management reiterated its original proposal of a mere 3% raise
(b) the company management’s original proposal for a mere 3% raise was reiterated all the more
(c) the company management kept on reiterating its original proposal of a mere 3% raise
(d) the more the company management’s original proposal of a mere 3% raise was reiterated
Explanation (a); The given sentence is right. The only other sentence which follows ‘the more the..the more the…’ sentence construction is (d), but it is awkwardly worded so that it is giving the impression that the 3% raise proposal of the management was reiterated by some other party instead of the management itself.
- The president of the resident welfare association tried to convince his neighbours they should join forces prevent crime in the neighbourhood rather than continuing to be victimized.
(a) they should join forces to prevent crime in the neighbourhood rather than continuing to be victimized
(b) that they should join forces to prevent crime in the neighbourhood rather than continue to be victimized
(c) about joining forces to prevent crime in the neighbourhood instead of continuing to be victimized
(d) to join forces to prevent crime in the neighbourhood rather than continuing to be victimized
Explanation (b); This question is about sentence construction and parallelism, and it is clearly evident that the underlined part forms the sub-ordinate sentence and it should be introduced with a conjunction to differentiate, or part the sentence, and only option (b) does that with the conjunction ‘that’ which introduces the subordinate clause. Also, notice that there are two verbs in the sentence and both should be used in the same infinitive form.
- Lawyers and doctors alike both agree something should be done about the rise in medical malpractice cases which are on the increase.
(a) alike both agree that something should be done about the rise in medical malpractice cases
(b) alike agree that something should be done about the rise in medical malpractice cases
(c) agree that something should be done about the rise in the number of medical malpractices
(d) None of the above
Explanation (b); Alike means ‘equally or in a similar manner’. The given sentence has three errors: the word ‘both’ is redundant and not required as the coordinating conjunction ‘and’ has already formed the compound noun for the subject.
Another error is that there is a bit of ambiguity because the sub-ordinate clause has not been introduced as there is no subordinating conjunction: there must be a subordinating conjunction to make it clear what both doctors and lawyers agree on.
Third error of the given sentence is the adjective clause, ‘which are on the increase’ is redundant because the phrase ‘are on the rise’ has already conveyed that the number of medical malpractices is increasing. Option (b) has removed both these errors.
Option (a) is wrong because it is similar to the given sentence. Option (c) is wrong, because it is taking an information which the original sentence tried to convey i.e. they both make the
- The conductor seemed entirely arbitrary the choice of tempo, because of which each successive movement of the piece seemed to have no connection to what had come before.
(a) The conductor’s choice of tempo seemed entirely arbitrary
(b) It seemed the conductor chose tempo entirely arbitrary
(c) The conductor was entirely arbitrary in his choice of tempo
(d) The tempo was chosen entirely by the arbitrary conductor
Explanation (a); Arbitrary is used to describe something which is based on a random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system. A person would not normally be described as arbitrary. Thus, we can easily rule out options (c) and (d).
They state that the conductor was arbitrary, which is illogical. The correct wording would be that the conductor’s decision or choice was arbitrary and not the conductor himself. Hence, option (a) is correct.
Option (b) is incorrect because arbitrarily should be used instead of arbitrary because arbitrarily is an adverb which would describe how he made the choice, thereby describing a mental action
(verb) whereas, arbitrary is an adjective.
- Although the conditions in which she lived suggest that she was miserly, her contributions to charities show that she is generous.
(a) her charities showed generous contributions
(b) her generosities made large contributions
(c) her contributions to charities showed that she is not generous
(d) her contributions to charities show that she was generous
Explanation (d); The given sentence is wrong because of the verb ‘is’. This verb is in the present tense, whereas the given sentence is in the past tense as indicated by the verb ‘was’ used in the part of the sentence which is not underlined. Option (d) corrects this error and is our answer.
Option (a) and (b) are wrong, because of the sentence construction with subordinating
conjunction ‘although’ which means ‘even though’ so the main clause will be contradictory with the adverbial clause introduced by ‘although’. So, the proper sentence construction would be parallel and this is how option (d) is.
Option (c) is incorrect, because it neglects the ‘although’.
- Although he was often incomplete in his work, he was promoted simply because he was with the company longer than anyone else.
(a) Although work was often incomplete
(b) His work was often incomplete although
(c) Although his work was often incomplete
(d) Although he often completed his work
Explanation (c); The given sentence is wrong, because it sounds ambiguous by considering an individual incomplete. Option (c) corrects this error by stating that his work was often incomplete.
Option (a) is wrong, because it is ambiguous and does not specify whose work or which work.
Option (b) is wrong, because the correct placement of the subordinating conjunction ‘although’
would be in such a way that it introduces the adverbial clause – ‘His work was often incomplete’.
Option (d) is wrong, because then the use of although makes no sense.
- Though the concert had been enjoyable, it was protracted overly.
(a) it was overly protracted.
(b) it overly protracted.
(c) it protracted overly.
(d) it got protracted overly.
Explanation (a); Protracted is used to describe something that is relatively long in duration. It is a negative term that is used to describe something which lasted more than you wanted it to. As a verb, it means ‘lengthen in time’. The given sentence places the verb before the adverb, which is not always preferred and option (a) gives a more appropriate placement of the adverb.
The remaining options are not consistent with the tense. There should be a verb ‘was’ to make the entire sentence consistent with the past tense.