English Language : Common Error
a fast train,
an unusual incident
Note: We can never use a singular count noun alone, that is, without a/an/the/my/some/any etc.
for milk, beauty, wisdom cannot be counted.
a one-sided affair
a one-rupee note
Well-known words which begin with a vowel but take a with them are:
an honest boy
an honourable person
a pleasure a noise
a rage a nuisance
a headache a toothache
a bad cold in a whisper
in a low voice in a loud voice
to be at a loss
I have read the book you are talking of. (not any book but a particular book that is being referred to)
The artists who came to seem me today are quite accomplished. (not any artists but the ones who came to see me today)
Shut the door. (the door of the room in which we are sitting)
He was brought before the Principal. (The Principal of the institution in which he was studying)
The king pardoned him. (the king we are talking about at the moment)
- with superlatives and the words used in the superlative sense:
the best student in the class
the Chief Justice
the Prime Minister
- when special emphasis almost equivalent to the use of the superlative is intended:
He is the leader today. (the greatest leader)
This is just the thing. (the right thing)
This is the way to solve this problem. (the proper way).
- even in comparative degrees when one of the two items is singled out in preference to the other:
He is the moon, the world, (But not: He is the finer batsman than others. The correct form would be : He is a finer bats man than others.)
- with things of which there is only one in our world, or things which are otherwise well known but do not begin with a capital letter:
the sun, the moon, the world, the equator, the north, the east.
- in place of possessive adjectives:
I hit him on the head. (= his head) Disappointment stared him in the face.( = his face)
- with common nouns when one noun is used to represent the whole class or species:
The horse is a faithful animal.
The lion is the king of animals.
- with an adjective with a plural notion to indicate a class of persons:
The rich should help the poor. (We can say: Rich men should help poor men But not: The rich men should help the poor men.×)
- as an adverb in case of certain comparatives:
The more we get, the more we want.
The harder you work, the better it will be.
- to suggest distribution: (= each)
We can buy oranges by the dozen.
Cloth is sold by the metre.
2. —— stone hit him on —— head.
3. —— fox is —— very clever animal.
4. Only —— rich can afford ——comforts of ——modern times.
5. I have —— elder brother and —— younger sister. —— sister is —— wiser of the two.
6. If you are looking for —— entertaining as well as educative magazine, this is —— magazine for you.
7. —— sun rises in — east and sets in —west.
8. India is a little to —— north of —— equator.
9. —— oranges are sold by —— dozen.
Shakespeare was a great playwright. (Shakespeare)
Samudragupta was a great warrior. (Samudragupta)
He is a good playwright but not a Shakespeare. (not as great a playwright as Shakespeare)
Kalidas is the Shakespeare of India. (as great a playwright for India as Shakespeare is for England)
• Rivers the Ganga, the Yamuna • Seas and oceans the Red Sea, the Atlantic Ocean • Mountain ranges the Alps, the Himalayas • Holy books the Bible, the Ramcharit Manas • Trains, ships the Himgiri Express, the Ashoka (the name of a ship). • Newspapers and the Pioneer, magazines the Hindustan Times, the Filmfare, the portstar • Well-known the Gateway of India, buildings the Red Fort, the Qutub Minar • Countries (if their name contains a common noun) the U.S.A., the U.K. (In United States of America, States is a common noun.) • Peoples, parties the English, the French, the Whigs • The whole families the Khans, the Kapurs
A number of prepositions may be used to denote time: from Monday; after my return; during the night; till tomorrow; before the bell rings; a quarter to ten. In most cases, it is easy to decide which preposition to use. The following prepositions, however, need special attention.
- At usually denotes a definite point of time but can also be used for indefinite periods:
at 7 p.m.; at this moment; (Definite at midnight; point of time)
at the end of the class;
at night; at dawn; (indefinite at Durga Puja; at Diwali. periods)
- On is used with days and dates:
on Monday; on 1st May;
on the annual day; on a May afternoon.
- In is used with parts of the day, and with months, years, seasons:
in the morning; in September;
in 2004; in winter.
- In is also used with the future tense to show the period in which an action will happen:
in a week; in four hours.
- In and within. In means at the end of; within means before the end of:
I shall be back in a week. (when a week is over)
I shall be back within a week. (before a week is over)
The competition will be over by 6 p.m.
(It should be over before it is 6 p.m., but the latest time at which it can be over is 6 p.m.)
They will have declared the result by tomorrow evening.
This discussion has been going on for two hours.
I have worked in this office for two years.
For may sometimes be omitted also:
I have been busy the whole morning.(for the whole morning)
She has been teaching in this college since 2001.
A cool breeze has been blowing since morning.
The examination will be held from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
He was the Chief Minister of the state from 1999 to 2002.
- At has the idea of an exact point and is, therefore, used with houses, villages, small towns. In has the idea of a larger area and is used while speaking of bigger towns, states, countries, etc.:
at Karol Bagh in New Delhi;
at Ambala; in England;
at the end; in the middle.
- At conveys the idea of a general neighbourhood; in conveys the idea of something contained:
We say at the table to take our lunch.
Please wait for me at the Regal PVR.
Turn left at the next crossing.
There are two Pepsi bottles in the refrigerator.
You will find the stapler in the drawer.
The file is on the table.
The dog sprang upon the table.
The flags waved over our heads.
The flags waved above our heads.
But over can also mean coverning, or vertically above:
My father put a blanket over me.
There is a fan exactly over the table.
There was a beautiful lake below us in the valley.
His shoes were lying under the table.
She put the keys of the wardrobe under her pillow.
He jumped into the well.
One stream flows into another.
Figuratively: We have entered into an agreement to export handicrafts to some European countries.
The children leaves for the school at 7 a.m.
We shall soon set off for Mumbai.
He threw the goods against the wall.
Prepositions of direction from. Most common among these are: from, off, out of:
He brought these books from the market.
He had already gone from home.
He took a few books out of the Cupboard.