(no longer in possession of) v. (decline in value)
mandate v. have a mandate
(command) v. (have authority from voters)
native of v. native to
(person from) v. (species that originated in)
range of v. ranging
(variety of) v. (varying)
rates of v. rates for
(speed or frequency of) v. (prices for)
rise v. raise
(general increase) v. (a bet or salary increase in american english)
try to do v. try doing
(seek to accomplish) v. (experiment with)
impel v. impale
((to force) v. (to pierce it with a sharp instrument)
farther v. further
(refers only to distance) v. (refers to degree of something other than distance)
a group of words headed by a preposition (i.e. of mice, in Zambia, to the store); modify or describe other parts of the sentence; thus, you can generally eliminate them to find the subject
clauses that begin with connecting words such as who or which; cannot stand alone as sentences; always attached to a main clause; since they do not contain the main subject or verb, they are frequently used as middlemen or warmups
-ing forms derived from verbs
-ed and -en forms derived from verbs
and vs. additive phrases
many other words and phrases besides and can "add" to a subject (i.e. along with Polly, in addition to surgery, as well as the mayor); unlike and, additive phrases do not form compound subjects; singular subjects followed by additive phrases remain singular subjects
either... or & neither... nor
find the noun nearest to the verb, and make sure that the verb agrees in number with this noun (e.g. neither the coach nor the players ARE going to the beach, neither the coach nor the coach IS going to the beach); note that when the wordseither or neither are in a sentence alone (without or or nor), they are considered singular and take only singular verbs
a noun that looks singular (it usually does not end with an -s) but can refer to a group of people or objects
people: agency, army, audience, class, committee, crowd, orchestra, team
in some rare circumstances, collective nouns can be considered plural (e.g., when you emphasize the individual actors, not their unity); however, on the gmat, collective nouns are almost always considered singular and therefor require singular verb forms
schools subjects (e.g., mathematics), as well as some activities (e.g., aerobics) and diseases (e.g., diabetes) are...
words that replace other nouns or pronouns
not specific about thing thing to which it refers; usually singular
anyone anybody, anything
each, every (as pronouns)
everyone, everybody, everything
either, neither (may require a plural verb if paired with or/nor)
no one, nobody, nothing
someone, somebody, something
5 indefinite pronouns that can be either singular or plural depending on the context of the sentence
Some, Any, None, All, More/Most
the noun object of the Of-phrase can help you determine the number of subject
Some of the moneyWAS stolen from my wallet. (money is singular)
Some of the documentsWERE stolen from the bank. (documents is plural)
Don't apply the Of-phrase mechanically. None of and any of followed by a plural noun can be singular
Any of these women IS a suitable candidate for marriage to my son
Note that not one is always singular.
each and every
each or every requires a singular verb form; the same is true for any subject preceded by the word each or every
every dog and catHAS paws
each of these shirts IS pretty
they each ARE great tennis players - here, the plural subject they requires the plural verb form are
the number of hardworking students in this class IS quite large
a number of students in this class ARE hard workers
idiomatic expressions that designate quantities or parts, such as a number of
provide the exception to the rule that the subject cannot be in a prepositional phrase
other examples include fractions and percents
half of the pie IS blueberry, and half of the slices ARE already gone
majority, minority, and plurality
either singular or plural
the majority of the students in this class ARE hard workers
in the Senate, the majorityHAS coalesced into a unified voting block
subject phrases and clauses
sometimes the subject of a sentence is an -ing phrase or even a whole clause --> singular
having good friendsIS a wonderful thing
whatever they want to doIS fine with me
I want to retire to a place where i can relax and i pay low taxes
i want to retire to a place where i can relax and WHERE i can pay low taxes
repeating the where eliminates ambiguity
the subordinators do not have to be identical
there are many people who speak english but whose parents do not
ralph likes both those who are popular and who are not
ralph likes both those who are popular and THOSE who are not
Lists with And
if you join 2 clauses with and, you can put an optimal comma before the and. doing so is especially recommended when the clauses are long, independent, or both
e.g. i really like candy apples, AND i ead them often
words that link or contrast items and that force those items to be parallel
e.g. and, both/and or either/or, not/but, not only/but also, rather than, from/to
a word that takes the place of a noun, so that we don not have to repeat that noun elsewhere in the sentence
the noun the pronoun is referring to
the antecedent must exist
the antecedent to which you want to refer must actually exist in the sentence as a noun
watch out for nouns used as adjectives, they cannot be antecedents of pronouns
the antecedent & pronoun must make sense together
always check that the antecedent makes sense in place of the pronouns
the error in meaning is subtle but unmistakable
the antecedent & pronoun must agree in number
the number of the pronoun must match the number of its antecedent
the deadly five: it, its, they, them , their
aka third person personal pronouns
whenever you see one of these five pronouns, find the antecedent and check its viability (is the antecedent sensible and in agreement with the pronoun?)
this, that, these, and those
you may use any of these pronouns as adjectives in front of nouns
you may also use that or those to indicate a "New Copy" or copies of the antecedent (e.g. the money spent by her parents is less than THAT spent by her children)
Note that the two pots of money are NOT the same. One pot of money is spent by the parents; another pot of money, spent by the children, is the New Copy.
In contrast, when you use it, they, or other personal pronouns, you mean the same actual thing as the antecedent (e.g. the money spent by her parents is more than IT was expected to be)
do not use this or these in place of nouns. a sentence such as this is great is unacceptably vague.
also, do not use that or those in place of nouns, unless you modify that or those to make them New Copies. instead, use it, they, or them
what about pronoun ambiguity
every pronoun in a well-written sentence should clearly refer to one antecedent
if the intended antecedent of a single pronoun is clear (e.g., by virtue of parallelism and meaning), and if there is no other reasonable antecedent, then don't worry if there is an unreasonable antecedent somewhere else in the sentence
subject pronouns can be the subjects of sentences
I, you, he, she, it, we, they, who
e.g. they arrived late
object pronouns can be the objects of verbs or prepositions
me, you, him, her, it, us, them, whom
e.g. no one saw themor talked to them
possessive pronouns indicate ownership or a similar relation
after noun: The cat, LAZY from overeating, took a nap.
noun modifiers example -
after noun: The catON the couch took a nap.
noun modifiers example -
before noun: The TIREDcat took a nap.
after noun: TIRED from chasing mice, the cat took a nap.
noun modifiers example -
present participle without commas
before noun: The SLEEPINGcat took a nap.
after noun: The catSLEEPING on the rug is named Sue.
noun modifiers example -
The grey cat, WHICH loves tuna, took a nap.
The catTHAT lives next door is noisy.
The personWHO lives next door is noisy.
The cityWHERE I live is noisy.
noun modifiers example -
another noun (appositive)
a noun used to modify another noun
before noun: A LOVER of mice, my cat hunts night and day.
after noun: The cat, a TABBY raised on a farm, took a nap.
touch rule (for noun modifiers)
a NOUN and its MODIFIER should TOUCH each other
the modifier is next to a different noun
wrong: Jim biked along an old dirt road to get to his house, which cut through the woods.
right: To get to his house, Jim biked along an old dirt road, which cut through the woods.
the noun we want to modify is not even in the sentence
wrong: resigned to the bad news, there was no commotion in the office
wrong: there was no commotion in the office, resigned to the bad news
right: resigned to the bad news, the office workers made no commotion
answer questions about the verb, such as "how", "when," "where," "why," etc.
unlike a noun modifier, a verb modifier does not have to touch the subject
a present participle (-ing form) at the beginning of a sentence is often made to be dangling (these forms are technically verb modifiers)
wrong: using the latest technology, the problem was identified
wrong: the problem was identified, using the latest technology
right: using the latest technology, the engineer identified the problem
right: the engineer identified the problem, using the latest technology
verb modifiers can be placed more freely than noun modifiers, which must generally touch the modified noun
Wrong: The nameless symphony was at last performed, decades after it was composed, yesterday.
Right: The nameless symphony was at las performedyesterday, decades after it was composed.
avoid long sequences of modifiers that modify the same noun
wrong: george carlin, both shocking and entertaining audience across the nation, who also struggled publicly with drug abuse, influence and inspired a generation of comedians
better: both shocking and entertaining audiences across the nation, George Carlin, who also struggled publicly with drug abuse, influenced and inspired a generation of comedians
best: both shocking and entertaining audiences across the nation, George carlin influence and inspired a generation of comedians, even as he struggled publicly with drug abuse
possessive nouns (nouns that end in 's or 's) - subj. modifiers
Misplaced modifiers sometimes appear in sentences that have possessive nouns
Wrong: Unskilled in complex math, Bill's score on the exam was poor.
Right: Unskilled in complex math, Bill did not score well on the exam.
abstract nouns ("development") - subj. modifiers
same rule as other nouns: modifiers that touch them should be intended to modify them
Wrong: Only in the past century has origami's development, a ceremonial activity invented millennia ago, into a true art form taken place.
Right: Origami-a ceremonial activity invented millennia ago-has developed into a true art form only in the past century.
"who" vs "whom" - subj. relative pronouns
"who" and "whom" must modify people
"who" is used as the subject of the verb in a relative clause, whereas "whom" is used as the object of the verb or a preposition
Wrong: The security guard WHO we met was nice
Right: The security guard WHOM we met was nice
often introduce noun modifiers
which that who whose whom where when
"which" - subj. relative pronouns
must modify things
"that" subj. relative pronouns
cannon modify people
Wrong: The scientists THAT made the discovery were rewarded.
Right: The scientists WHO made the discovery were rewarded.
"whose" - subj. relative pronouns
can modify either people or things
e.g. the town whose water supply was contaminated
"which" and "whom" - subj. relative pronouns
sometimes follow prepositions
e.g. the canal through which water flows; the senator for whom we worked.
"that" or "whom" - sub. relative pronouns
can be dropped when the modified noun is the object of the modifying clause
Right: The movie THAT we watched last Friday was scary
Right: The movie we watched last Friday was scary
"where" - subj. relative pronouns
can be used to modify a noun place, such as area, site, country, or Nevada. "Where" cannot modify a "metaphorical" place, such as condition, situation, case, circumstances, or arrangement-in these cases, use "in which" rather than "where"
Wrong: We had an arrangement WHERE he cooked and I cleaned.
Right: We had an arrangement IN WHICH he cooked and I cleaned.
"when" - subj. relative pronouns
can be used to modify a noun event or time, such as period, age, 1987, or decade. In these circumstances, you can also use "in which" instead of "when."
provide necessary information
used to identify the noun (out of many possibilities) or to "attach" the modifier to the noun from that point onward
e.g. The mansionPAINTED RED is owned by the Lees
provide extra information
you do not need this information to identify the noun, since it is already identified in some other way
e.g. This mansion, RECENTLY PAINTED RED is owned by the Lees
Rules for essential and non-essential modifiers
Put COMMAS between NON-ESSENTIAL modifiers and their nouns
Put NO COMMAS between ESSENTIAL modifiers and their nouns
use WHICH (and commas) if the modifier is non-essential
use THAT (and no commas) if the modifier is essential
non-essential: This mansion, WHICH HAS BEEN RECENTLY PAINTED RED, is owned by the Lees.
essential: The mansionTHAT HAS BEEN PAINTED RED is owned by the Lees.
non-essential: This mansion, FOR WHICH I YEARN, is owned by the Lees.
essential: The mansionFOR WHICH I YEARN is owned by the Lees.
other relative pronouns, such as "who," can be used in essential or in non-essential modifiers
verb modifiers example -
FREQUENTLY, I walk to the store
I FREQUENTLYwalk to the store.
after verb: I walk to the store FREQUENTLY.
verb modifiers example -
before verb: ON Mondays, I walk to the store.
after verb: I walk to the store ON Mondays.
verb modifiers example -
subordinators include words such as because, although, if, unless, while, so that,while, and so on. These words begin subordinate clauses, which cannot stand alone as sentences, but rather are attached to main clauses.
before verb: WHEN my car is broken, I walk to the store.
after verb: I walk to the store WHEN my car is broken.
very modifiers example -
present participle with commas
before verb: WHISTLING "Beat It," Ilifted the weight.
after verb: Ilifted the weight, WHISTLING "Beat It."
make sure that these modifiers have a sensible subject in the sentence - I was whistling "Beat It," I was concentrating, I wanted to free my leg.
verb modifiers example -
preposition + simple gerund
before verb: BY CONCENTRATING, Ilifted the weight
after verb: Ilifted the weight BY CONCENTRATINGmake sure that these modifiers have a sensible subject in the sentence - I was whistling "Beat It," I was concentrating, I wanted to free my leg.
very modifiers example -
infinitive of purpose
before verb: TO FREE my leg, Ilifted the weight.
after verb: Ilifted the weight TO FREE my leg.make sure that these modifiers have a sensible subject in the sentence - I was whistling "Beat It," I was concentrating, I wanted to free my leg.
infinitive of purpose can be used with unnamed agents in passive-voice sentences: The weight was lifted to free my leg
An Infinitive of Purpose needs to indicate the purpose of someone - the boulder rolled to free my leg implies nonsensically that the boulder wanted to free my leg.
Which vs. the Present Participle -ing
use WHICH only to refer to the noun immediately preceding it-never to refer to an entire clause
wrong: Crime has recently decreased in our neighborhood, WHICH has led to a rise in property values.
right: The recent decrease in crime in our neighborhood has led to a rise in property values.
right: Crime has recently decreased in our neighborhood, leading to a rise in property values.
-ing can modify nouns directly (e.g., the changing seasons), can modify verbs and their subjects (e.g., Ilifted the weight, whistling), can even modify an entire clause as above - this use of the -ing form works best when you want to express the result of the main clause.
often used to express "eternal" states or frequent events
SIMPLE PRESENT: Sandy PLAYS well with her friends.
SIMPLE PAST: Sandy PLAYED well with her friends yesterday.
SIMPLE FUTURE: Sandy WILL PLAY well with her friends tomorrow.
emphasize the ongoing nature of an action
use the verb "to be" and the present participle (-ing form)
PRESENT PROGRESSIVE: Sandy IS PLAYING soccer.
PAST PROGRESSIVE: Sandy WAS PLAYING soccer yesterday.
FUTURE PROGRESSIVE: Sandy WILL BE PLAYING soccer tomorrow.
cat: general definitions
present progressive or simple present?
Use simple present
Wrong: Cherenkov radiation is light that particles ARE EMITTING when they ARE TRAVELING faster than the effective speed of light in any medium.
Right: Cherenkov radiation is light that particles EMIT when they TRAVEL faster than the effective speed of light in any medium.
cat: future actions
present progressive or simple future?
Use simple future to indicate future actions
Wrong: Quentin IS MEETING Harvey for lunch tomorrow.
Right: Quentin WILL MEET Harvey for lunch tomorrow.
-know or signify
Verbs that express general states do not normally take progressive forms
Wrong: This inscription IS SIGNIFYING the emperor's birth
Right: This inscription SIGNIFIES the emperor's birth
Make tenses reflect meaning
Right: He IS thinner now because he WENT on a strict diet six months ago.
Right: She WAS PLAYING with her friends when the babysitter ARRIVED.
-the action was playing takes place in the background; arrived is the interrupting foreground event
Right: She PLAYED with her friends when the babysitter ARRIVED.
Use for actions that started in the past but continue into the present, or remain true in the present
The Present Perfect indicates either continued action or continued effect of a completed action up the the present
= HAVE/HAS + Past Participle
p.p. of a regular verb, add -ed
p.p. of irregular verbs, such as go or see, gone, seen
Right: This country HAS FORCED strict immigration laws for thirty years.
Right: They HAVE KNOWN each other since 1987.
Action is definitely over, but its effect is still relevant to the present moment - subj. present perfect example
Right: The child HAS DRAWN a square in the sand
the child is no longer drawing a square but the square must still be here somehow.
if the square has disappeared, use Simple Past
Right: The child DREW a square in the sand, but the ocean ERASED it.
Right: The child DREW a square in the sand, but the ocean HAS ERASED it.
Wrong: The child HAS DRAWN a square in the sand, but the ocean HAS ERASED it.
-subj. Present Perfect example
use Present Perfect to indicate an action or effect that continues to the present time
Wrong: Since 1986 no one BROKE that world record
Wrong: Since 1986 no one BREAKS that world record
Right: Since 1986 no one HAS BROKEN that world record
For the same reasons, use the PP with "within the past..." or "in the last..." phrases
In contrast, a time phrase that does not include the present prevents the use of the PP. Use Simple Past instead.
Wrong: Veronica HAS TRAVELED all over the world in 2007.
Right: Veronica TRAVELED all over the world in 2007.
Right: Veronica has traveled all over the world
-ing forms, infinitives or subordinate clauses - subj. Present Perfect
used to clarify an ambiguous sequence in time
for instance, "when" can mean either "at the same time" or "after."
Right: She WILL PAY you when you ASK her. (no present perfect) = she will pay you at the same time as you ask her, or maybe just after.
Right: She WILL PAY you when you HAVE TAKEN out the garbage. (Present Perfect) = she will pay you clearly after you take out the garbage and have proven it.
If two actions in a sentence occurred at different times in the past, we often use the Past Perfect tense for the earlier action and Simple Past for the later action
= HAD + Past Partciple
Right: The film HAD STARTED by the time we ARRIVED at the theater.
Right: The teacher THOUGHT that Jimmy HAD CHEATED on the exam.
earlier past action (had started, had cheater)
later past action (arrived, thought)
Do no use PP simply for "long ago" without a later past moment
do not always use the PP for earlier actions; use PP only to clarify or emphasize a sequence of past events; the earlier event should someone have a bearing on the context of the later event
Right: Antonio DROVE to the store and BOUGHT some ice cream.
a sequence of verbs with the same subject does not require PP; Use Simple Past
"and" or "but" clauses - subj. Past Perfect
do not require the Past Perfect as a general rule
Right: Antonio DROVE to the store, and Cristina BOUGHT some ice cream
Likewise, the words "before" and "after" indicate the sequence of events clearly to make the PP unnecessary
Right: Laura LOCKED the deadbolt before she LEFT for work.
Later past event does not need to be expressed with a Simple Past tense verb - example
you could just use a date or another time reference
Right: By 1945, the United States HAD BEEN at war for several years.
You can make a tricky sentence in which the first clause expresses an early action in Simple Past. Then, a second clause expresses a later action in Past Present to indicate continued effect (by a still later past time).
Right: The band U2 WAS just one of many new groups on the rock music scene in the early 1980's, but less than ten years later, U2 HAD fully ECLIPSED its early rivals in the pantheon of popular music.
Perfect Tenses: only when necessary
do not use the perfect tenses when the simple tenses will do
Wrong: Joe LEARNED about an epoch in which dinosaurs HAD WALKED the earth.
Right: Joe LEARNED about an epoch in which dinosaurs WALKED the earth
avoid mixing Present tense with Conditional tense (formed by combining "would" with the base form of the verb)
avoid mixing Past tense with Future tense
Present + Future OR Past + Conditional
Right: The scientist BELIEVES that the machine WILL BE wonderful
Right: The scientist BELIEVED that the machine WOULD BE wonderful.
Wrong: The scientist BELIEVES that the machine WOULD BE wonderful.
Wrong: The scientist BELIEVED that the machine WILL BE wonderful.
The Subjunctive Mood
occur in two special situations:
(1) Unlikely or unreal conditions (usually after "if" or a similar word)
(2) Proposals, desires and requests formed with certain verbs and the word "that"
corresponds to: the Hypothetical Subjunctive and the Command Subjunctive
The Hypothetical Subjective (aka Past Subjunctive)
indicate unlikely or unreal conditions
occurs after if, as if, or as though.
Right: To overcome my fear of germs, I will think about disease as though it WERE harmless.
The speaker does not believe that disease actually is harmless. By using the HS "were," the speaker reveals that he or she thinks that disease is not harmless.
For the verb "to be," the form "were" is ALWAYS used
If... Then Constructions
Sentences that use "if" do not always use the Hypothetical Subjunctive
Right: IF you study diligently, [THEN] you will score highly.
Right: You will score highly IF you study diligently.
five common patterns of if... then sentences
(1) General Rule with no uncertainty
IF Sophie EATS pizza, THEN she BECOMES ill.
IF Present, THEN Present.
Pattern equivalent to "whenever."
(2) General Rule with some uncertainty
IF Sophie EATS pizza, THEN she MAY BECOME ill.
IF Present, THEN Can or May(3) Particular Case (in the future) with no uncertainty
IF Sophie EATS pizza tomorrow, THEN she WILL BECOME ill.
IF Present, THEN Future.
Another possibility for the Particular Case (in the present) is Present Perfect: If Sophie HAS EATEN pizza, then she WILL BECOME ill.
(4) Unlikely Case (in the future)
IF Sophie ATE pizza tomorrow, THEN she WOULD BECOME ill.
IF Hypothetical Subjunctive, THEN Conditional
"could" can be used to indicate improbability as well
(5) Case That Never Happened (in the past)
IF Sophie HAD EATEN pizza yesterday, THEN she WOULD HAVE BECOME ill.
If Past Perfect, THEN Conditional Perfect
The helping verbs "would" and "should" should NEVER go in the "if" part of the sentence
The Command Subjunctive
used with certain Bossy Verbs, such as "require" or "propose"
Bossy Verbs tell people to do things
ex. The agency REQUIRED that Gary BE ready before noon.
ex. We PROPOSE that the school board DISBAND.
"be" and "disband" are in the Command Subjunctive mood
aka Bare Form of the verb: the infinitive (to be, to disband) without the "to."
like the Simple Present, with (1) no -S on the end for third person singular (that the school board DISBAND, not DISBANDS) and (2) the form of the verb "to be" is always "be," not is, are, or am.
The subjunctive construction with a Bossy Verb
Bossy Verb + THAT + subject + Command Subjunctive
ex. We PROPOSE THAT the school board DISBAND.
Wrong: We PROPOSE the school board DISBAND ("That" is not optional.)
Wrong: We PROPOSE THAT the school board DISBANDS.
Wrong: We PROPOSE THAT the school board IS TO DISBAND.
Wrong: We PROPOSE THAT the school board WILL DISBAND.
Wrong: We PROPOSE THAT the school board SHOULD DISBAND.
"want" - subj. Command Subjunctive (Bossy Verbs)
cannot use the Command Subjective, but rather an infinitive (to + the bare form)
Right: The vice-president WANTS her TO GO to the retreat.
Wrong: The vice-president WANTS THAT she GO to the retreat
Common Verbs that take ONLY the Command Subjunctive when indicating desire
A few Bossy Verbs, most notably prohibit, take other constructions altogether:
Right: The agency PROHIBITED Gary FROM WORKING on weekends.
The Command Subjunctive can also be used with nouns derived from Bossy Verbs, such as a demand or a request. - example
Right: His demand THAT he BE paid full severance was not met.
The Command Subjunctive is possible with "It is X," in which X is an adjective, such as "essential," that conveys urgency - example
Right: It is essential THAT Gary BE ready before noon.
Other adjectives conveying urgency include advisable, crucial, desirable, fitting, imperative, important mandatory, necessary, preferable, urgent, and vital
Avoid the use of the Command Subjunctive after "whether"
Wrong: I like ice cream, WHETHER it BE chocolate, vanilla, or any other flavor.
Right: I like ice cream, WHETHER is IS chocolate, vanilla, or any other flavor.
the subject of the sentence performs the action
ex. The hungry students ATE the pizza
the subject of the sentence has an action performed on it by someone or something else
ex. the pizza WAS EATEN by the hungry students
formed with a form of the verb to be (in this case, was), followed by the past participle (eaten)
do no use other verbs besides be, such as get, to form the passive voice
Wrong: The pizza GOT EATEN by the hungry students
Wrong: The pizza must GET EATEN today.
whoever actually performs the action in the sentence may follow the verb in a phrase headed by the preposition by.
use "by" only for the actual doers of the action
use "through" or "because of" when you want to describe any instruments or means, which might be awkward or nonsensical subject in active voice.
Wrong: The pizza WAS accidentally EATEN BY a quirk of fate.
Wrong: A quirk of fate accidentally ate the pizza.
Right: THROUGH quirk of fate, the pizza WAS accidentally EATEN.
If a "by" phrase is force upon you (perhaps it's not underlined), then you must use the passive voice
Wrong: News of the moon landing repeated around the world BY people of all ages, all races, and all religions.
Lacking a full verb, the sentence is fragment. Because the "people" repeating the news are mentioned by a "by" phrase that you can't get ride of, fix the sentence using the passive voice:
Right: News of the moon landing WAS repeated around the world BY people of all ages, all races, and all religions.
Only Transitive Verbs (verbs that take direct objects) can be written in the passive voice. For instance, you can eat something, so something can be eaten. Verbs that do not take direct objects should never be written in the passive voice.
Wrong: The aliens WERE ARRIVED on Neptune in the 20th century.
Right: The aliens ARRIVED on Neptune in the 20th century.
"arrive' does not take a direct object. you can't "arrive" something. So something can't be "arrived"
Passive is sometimes longer or more awkward but still grammatically correct
Passive: It HAS BEEN DECIDED by Jason that he will not attend college.
Active: Jason HAS DECIDED not to attend college.
Both are right
Passive: It HAS BEEN DECIDED by Jason that he will not attend college next fall. - Correct
Active: Jason HAS DECIDED next fall not to attend college. - Incorrect
The future time phrase "next fall" must stay away from the Present Perfect verb "has decided."
You do not have to make active or passive voice parallel throughout a sentence
Right: The shuttle launch TOOK place flawlessly and WAS SEEN on television.
Most important comparison signals
like, unlike, as, and than
like, unlike, more than, less than, faster than, different from, in contrast to/with, as, as (adj.) as, as much as, as little as, as fast as, the same as
like vs as - subj. comparison
like is a preposition
LIKE must be followed by nouns, pronouns, or noun phrases (never put a clause or a prepositional phrase after like; clause contains a working verb, one that can be the main verb in a sentence)
Right:LIKE her brother, Ava aced the test.
Note that "like" can be followed by gerunds (-ing forms used as nouns) - LIKE swimming, skiing is great exercise.
As can be either proposition (appearing with a noun) or a conjunction (appearing with a clause)
Wrong: LIKE her brother DID, Ava aced the test.
Right: AS her brother DID, Ava aced the test
The words "her brother did" form a clause ("did' is a working verb)
Comparison must be logically parallel
Wrong: Frank's build, LIKE his brother, is broad and muscular
Right: Frank's build, LIKE his brother's, is broad and muscular.
We can also use the word "that" to stand for "build"; if the first noun were plural, we would use "those" instead
Right: Frank's build, LIKE that of his brother, is broad and muscular
Right: Frank's toes, LIKE THOSE of his brother, are short and hairy
We can change the first term and rephrase the sentence accordingly
Right: Frank, LIKE his brother, has a broad and muscular build.
Comparisons must be structurally parallel
Wrong: I like to run through forests more than I enjoy walking through crowds.
Right: I like running through forests MORE THAN walking through crowds
Omitted words - subj. comparisons
Omit words in second part of a comparison (possessive nouns)
ex. my car is bigger than Brian's [car]; my toes are longer than Brian's [toes].
you can also omit units, verbs, and even whole clauses from the second term, as long as there is no ambiguity
Right: Whereas I drink 2 quarts of milk a day, my friend drinks 3 [quarts]
Right: I walk faster than Brian [walks]
Right: I walk as fast now as [I walked] when I was younger
in general, you should put in the omitted words or appropriate Helping Verbs (such as be, do, and have) only if you need to remove ambiguity.
Right: Vishal eats more carrots than donuts ("donuts" must be the object)
Wordy: Vishal eats more carrots than HE DOES donuts
Ambiguous: I like cheese more than Yvette (Yvette could be subject or object)
Right: I like cheese more than Yvette DOES (=than Yvette likes cheese)
Right: I like cheese more than I DO Yvette (=than I like Yvette)
Do not throw out an answer choice simply because of an unnecessary Helping Verb in the second term of a comparison
Right: Apples are more healthy to eat than caramels
Right: Apples are more healthy to eat than caramels ARE
Comparative and Superlative Forms
When comparing two things, use the Comparative Form of an adjective or adverb
When comparing more than two things, use the Superlative Form of an adjective or adverb.
Comparative: She is SHORTER than her sister (add -er)
Superlative: She is the SHORTEST of her five siblings (add -est)
Do not compare an adverb that ends in -ly by changing the ending to -er. Instead, add "more"
Wrong: Adrian runs QUICKLY. He runs QUICKER than Jacob.
Right: Adrian runs QUICKLY. He runs MORE QUICKLY than Jacob.
however, some adverbs that do end in -ly are made into comparatives by adding -er
Right: Adrian runs FAST. He runs FASTER than Jacob.
Do not use a comparative adjective unless you have a "than" in the sentence
Wrong: With winter coming I will have HIGHER energy bills.
Wrong: I will have HIGHER bills OVER last year.
Right: I will have HIGHER bills THAN last year.
expressions that have unique forms
ex. They tried to reach the summit and succeeded in doing so, not They tried in reaching the summit and succeeded to do so.
(1) SPOT the suspect idiomatic expression - compare answer choices to find the core words and all variations
(2) EXTRACT the various forms of the idiom and put them into simpler sentences that you can easily compare - present the simplest versions to your ears
(3) REPLACE the corrected idiom in the sentence and confirm that it works
ABILITY - subj. idioms
Right: I value my ABILITY TO SING.
(note: I CAN SING is preferred to I HAVE THE ABILITY TO SING.)
Wrong: I value my ABILITY OF SINGING
Wrong: I value my ABILITY FOR SINGING
Wrong: I value the ABILITY FOR me TO SING
ALLOW - subj. idioms
Right: The holiday ALLOWS Maria TO WATCH the movie today (= permits)
Right: Maria WAS ALLOWED TO WATCH the movie
Right: The demolition of the old building ALLOWS FOR new construction (= permits the existence of)
Wrong: The holiday ALLOWED FOR Maria TO WATCH the movie
Wrong: The holiday ALLOWED Maria the WATCHING OF the movie.
Wrong: The holiday ALLOWS THAT homework BE done (or CAN BE done)
Wrong: Homework is ALLOWED FOR DOING BY Maria
Wrong: The ALLOWING OF shopping TO DO (or TO BE DONE).
AND - subj. idioms
Right: We are concerned about the forests AND the oceans
Right: We are concerned about the forests, the oceans, AND the mountains
Right: We work all night, AND we sleep all day (note the comma before AND)
Suspect: We are concerned about the forests AND ALSO the oceans.
Suspect: We work all night AND we sleep all day (link 2 clauses with comma + AND)
Wrong: We are concerned about the forests, ALSO the oceans.
AS - subj. idioms
Right: AS I walked, I became more nervous (=during)
Right: AS I had already paid, I was unconcerned (=because, since)
Right: AS we did last year, we will win this year (=in the same way)
Right: JUST AS we did last year, we will win this year (=in the same way)
Right: AS the president of the company, she works hard (=in the stage of being)
Right: My first job was an apprenticeship AS a sketch artist
Right: AS PART OF the arrangement he received severance
Suspect: AS A PART OF the arrangement, he received severance.
Wrong: My first job was an apprenticeship OF a sketch artist
Wrong: They worked AS a sketch artists (needs to agree in number)
Wrong: WHILE BEING a child, I delivered newspaper
Wrong: AS BEING a child, I delivered newspaper
Wrong: WHILE IN childhood, I delivered newspapers
correct sentence always contains at least one main clause
group of words that can stand on its own as a complete sentence
contains both a subject and a verb
does not being with a subordinating conjunction such as "because" or "if"
using a comma to join two main clauses
Wrong: I need to relax, I have so many things to do!
Right: I need to relax, BUT I have so many things to do!
Together with a comma, a coordinating conjunction can link tow main clauses to form a grammatical sentence
and, but, or, for, nor, yet, & so
And - subj. coordinating conjunctions
most important coordinating conjunction
whenever you see an "and" after a comma, check for two possibilities: (1) a list (apples, grapes, AND pears) or (2) two main clauses (I like apples, AND she likes grapes)
linking a main clause to a fragment with "and" after a comma - example
Wrong: The term "Eureka," meaning "I have found it" in ancient Greek and famously uttered by Archimedes, AND ever since then, scientists have exclaimed the same word upon making important discoveries.
The capitalized "and" links a fragment (The term "Eureka," followed by two modifiers) to a main clause (ever since then, scientist..).
To fix, make fragment into a main clause as well
Right: The term "Eureka," meaning "I have found it" in ancient Greek, WAS famously uttered by Archimedes, AND ever since then, scientists have exclaimed the same word upon making important discoveries.
kind of connecting word
create subordinate clause which can in turn attach to a main clause with a comma
although, because, before, after, since, when, if, unless, that, though while
Right: I need to relax, BECAUSE i have so many things to do!
ALTHOUGH new data from the Labor Department indicate that producer prices rose rapidly last month, some analysts contend that the economic slowdown in the euro zone and in Asia will stem the rise in commodity prices, lessening inflationary pressures in the United States.
Use only one connecting word at once
Wrong: ALTHOUGH I need to relax, YET I have so many things to do!
Right: ALTHOUGH I need to relax, I have so many things to do!
Right: I need to relax, YET I have so many things to do!
Make sure clauses are connected by a sensible connecting word
Wrong: She is not interested in sports, AND she likes watching them on TV.
Right: She is not interested in sports, BUT she likes watching them on TV.
Right: ALTHOUGH she is not interested in sports, she likes watching them on TV.
Be on a lookout for sentences that join a main clause to something that should be a clause, but is not actually a clause - example - subj. connecting word
Wrong: Citizens of many countries are expressing concern about the environmental damage caused by the widespread release of greenhouse gases may be impossible to reverse.
"may be impossible to reverse" has no subject
change the preposition "about" to the subordinator "that"
Right: Citizens of many countries are expressing concern THAT the environmental damage caused by the widespread release of greenhouse gases may be impossible to reverse.
Right: Citizens of many countries are expressing concern about the environmental damage caused by the widespread release of greenhouse gases, DAMAGE THAT may be impossible to reverse <--absolute phrase
comma - subj; connecting punctuation
signals and separators of modifiers, items in a list, and other sentence elements
non-essential modifiers are set off by commas
essential modifiers are not separated by commas (e.g. this car, purchased last year, is a Buick contains a non-essential modifier, but The car purchased last year is a Buick contains an essential modifier)
Do not use comma before "and" to separate two verbs that have the same subject - subj. connecting punctuation, comma
Either eliminate the comma or add as subject to the second verb, creating a second main clause
Wrong: Earl walked to school, AND later ate his lunch.
Right: Earl walked to school AND later ate his lunch
Right: Earl walked to school, AND HE later ate his lunch
Comma by itself cannot connect two complete sentences (main clauses) - example
Wrong: Earl walked to school, he later ate his lunch
A strange kind of two-part sentence is legal: The bigger they are, the harder they fall
connects two closely related statements
each statements must be able to stand alone as an independent sentence
Wrong: Andrew and Lisa are inseparable; doing everything together
second part of sentence cannot stand on its own. Therefore, the two parts may not be connected by a semicolon
Right: Andrew and Lisa are inseparable; they do everything together.
if it seems that the author originally meant to subordinate one part to the other, you must preserve that intent - subj; semicolon
Right: the dam has created dead zones,WHERE fish have disappeared
Wrong: the dam has created dead zones; fish have disappeared
In the second example, the writer seems to be saying that fish all over the world have disappeared
first example is appropriately limited to the dead zone
The semicolon is often followed by a Conjunctive Adverb or other transition expression, such as "however, therefore, or in addition"
not true conjunctions like "and" so you must use semicolons, not commas, to join the sentences
Wrong: Andrew and Lisa are inseparable, THEREFORE, we never see them apart.
Right: Andrew and Lisa are inseparable; THEREFORE, we never see them apart
a minor use of semicolon to separate items that themselves contain commas
Wrong: I listen to Earth, Wind & Fire, Wow, Owls, and Blood, Seat & Tears
Right: I listen to Earth, Wind & Fire; Wow, Owls; and Blood, Sweat & Tears.
provides further explanation for what comes before it
you should be able to insert the word "namely" or "that is" after the colon
what comes before the colon must be able to stand alone as a sentence
what comes after the colon does not have to be able to stand alone
Wrong: I love listening to: classical, rock, rap, and pop music
Right: I love listening to many kinds of music: classical, rock, rap, and pop.
whatever needs explanation should be placed as close to the colon as possible
Worse: Three factors affect the rate of a reaction: concentration, surface area, and temperature
Better: The rate of a reaction is affected by three factors: concentration, surface area, and temperature
you can put a main clause after a colon as well
key is that this clause must explain what precedes the colon-perhaps the entire preceding clause
Right: on January 1, 2000, the national mood was completely different from what it would become just a few years later: at the turn of the century, given a seemingly unstoppable stock market and a seemingly peaceful world, the country was content
use as an emphatic commas, semicolon, or colon
should use dashes to separate an appositive from an item in a list
Right: My three best friends-Danny, Jimmy, and Joey-and I went skiing. (if you used commas in this sentence, you might think that seven people were going skiing)
Unlike colon, the dash does not need to be immediately preceded by the part needing explanation.
Right: Post-MBA compensation for investment bankers tends to surge far ahead of that for management consultants-by tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars a year. (by tens.. a year) explains the word "far" in the phrase "far ahead"
you cannot really go wrong with a dash!
rule #1: words used for countable things vs words used for uncountable things - subj. quantity
For "hat": one hat, two hats, three hates. (works, hat is countable)
For patience: one patience (?), two patiences (?, stop. this does not work; not countable
countable modifiers, uncountable modifiers
MANY hats, MUCH patience
NOT MANY hats, NOT MUCH patience
FEW hats, LITTLE patience
FEWER hats, LESS patience
FEWEST hats, LEAST patience
NUMBER of hats, AMOUNT of patience
FEWER THAN 10 hats, LESS THAN a certain AMOUNT of patience
NUMEROUS hats, GREAT patience
MORE NUMEROUS hats, GREATER patience
more most, enough, and all work with both countable (plural) and uncountable (singular) nouns
use "less" in countable or uncountable items?
do not use less with countable items (error: 10 items or less; should be 10 items or fewer)
Wrong: There were LESS Numidian kings than Roman emperors.
Right: There were FEWER Numidian kings than Roman emperors.
unit nouns: dollars or gallons
countable or uncountable?
represents uncountable quantities: money, volume (you can count money, of course, but you cannot count the noun money: one money (?), two moneys (?), stop)
Right: We have LESS THAN twenty dollars
If we write We have FEWER THAN twenty dollars, we mean the actual pieces of paper
rule #2 words used to relate two things vs words used to relate three or more things - subj. quantity
use comparative forms of adjectives and adverbs (better, worse, more, less) to compare two things or people
use superlative forms (best, worst, most, least) to compare three or more things or people
use "between" only with two things or people
use "among" for three or more things or people
Wrong: I mediated a dispute BETWEEN Maya, Logan, and Kalen.
use AMONG isntead
rule #3: The Number or Number Of versus A Number or The Numbers Of
the number of is singular, and a number of is plural
Right: THE NUMBER of dogs IS greater than the number of cats
Right: A NUMBER of dogs ARE chasing away the cats
the numbers of is almost always incorrect. stick to the expression the number of
wrong: THE NUMBERS of dogs in Montana IS steadily increasing
Right: THE NUMBER of dogs in Montana IS steadily increasing
numbers is possible in a few contexts. If you wish to make a comparison use "greater than," not "more than"
Wrong: The rare Montauk beaked griffin is not extinct; its NUMBERS are now suspected to be much MORE than before
Right: use GREATER than
rule #4: increase and decrease vs. greater and less - subj. quantity
increase and decrease express the change of one thing over time
greater and less signal a comparison between two things
Right: The price of silver INCREASE by ten dollars
Right: The price of silver is five dollars GREATER than the price of copper
watch out for redundancy with the words increase and decrease
Wrong: The price of silver FELL by more than 35% DECREASE
Right: The price of silver DECREASED by more than 35%