How to Solve Spotting Errors in English for IBPS SSC Exams

If you want to score well in English section of competitive exams you have to know how to solve spotting errors in English. Let us learn.

How to Solve Spotting Errors in English for IBPS SSC Exams

Know The Formation of Questions

The question paper of English usually contains questions relating to Spotting Errors. Sentences are usually divided in four parts marked A, B, C, D and ‘No error’. The candidates are required to find out the part which has an error.

The spotting error questions may be asked from the usage of article,preposition,tense,verb,noun,pronoun, adverb,adjective,conjunction,subject-verb agreement etc. Sometimes the error may be of unenglish expressions or superfluous use of some words.

How to Solve Spotting Errors

Candidates should note that there is no ‘shortcut’ of answering spotting errors in English. You should have good command over rules of grammar and their applications. Candidates should follow these steps.

  • Learn the rules well.
  • Then try to attempt questions.
  • The more you practise the more confidence you get.
  • Just cramming the rules will not solve your problem.
  • Do solve the exercises again and again, you will surely find improvement in your scoring.

Good command over the rules of grammar is the only way of attempting the questions relating to the spotting errors in English.

Some of the most repeated topics of  Spotting Errors will be covered in this article.

Important Rules of Articles

Article A or An is used fore a singular noun. A or An is determined by first sound of pronunciation. ‘An’ is used for vowel sounds otherwise ‘A’ is used.


A humble person,A forest officer,A husband,A heinous crime,A member of society,A young man. A university.ewe,unity,European, union,eulogy, UK ship/ European.

A one rupee note/one eyed deer/uniform/useful feature/united front/unique decision


An honest man/Honour/Hour/Hourly Meeting/Honorary Post

The-Definite Article is used in following cases.

before-person/thing/superlatives/directions/famous/books/nationality/community/musical instruments/inventions/designations/club/foundation organisation etc.

Zero Article Position

Trick to remember: Our PM sold a LCD to CM of AP(Andhra Pradesh), here focus on bold letters only.

PM-Plural in meaning though singular in form like: cattle,furniture,scenery,advice,information


CM-Common Nouns (Man is mortal) and Material Noun (Iron is a hard metal)

AP-Abstract Noun like quality,state,feeling,action etc and Proper Noun (Akbar was a great king)

Important Rules of Tense

  • When the main verb is in future, use Present Simple in clauses with; if till as soon as, when, unless, before, until, even if, in case and as

We shall wait till she arrives.

I shall not go there even if it rains.

  • Present Simple must be used instead of the Present Continuous with verbs of perception (feel, hear, smell etc.), Verbs of cognition (believe, know, think etc), verbs of emotion (hope, love, hate etc.) which cannot be used normally in continuous form.

Incorrect We are seeing with our eyes.

Correct We see with our eyes.

Incorrect Are you hearing a strange noise ?

Correct Do you hear a strange noise?

Incorrect We are smelling with our nose.

Correct We smell with our nose

  • One must not use adverbs of past time like; yesterday,last year, last month, ago, short while ago etc. with Present Perfect tense.

Incorrect He has completed his book yesterday.

Correct He completed his book yesterday.

  • Use of Since/For: Students commit mistake in using Since’ or For’. Please note, ‘For is used for Period of Time’ and Since’ is used for Point of Time’. With morning, evening etc., use since and with ‘some time’, hours’, months’, etc. use for’.
  • If two or more actions took place in sequence, we use simple past to denote the actions. (Otherwise past perfect is used to denote the earlier action) This is usually used with conjunction ‘before’.


He switched on the light before he opened the door.

The train started just before I reached the station.

  • The use of simple past with, ‘Wish’ and ‘lf only’ shows unreal past and present state of things.


I wish I were a millionaire! (I am not a millionaire)

  • Use of Past Continuous with ‘When’ and ‘While’
  • When’ is usually used when one action was completed and another action was going on.

When he arrived, his wife was washing her clothes.

  • While’ is used when two actions were going on at a time.

While she was cooking, I was washing the clothes.

  • Past Perfect is used when we look back on earlier action from a certain point in the past.

She had completed her work, before I reached there.

  • The Past Perfect is also used for an action which began before the time of speaking in the past and which stopped some time before the time of speaking.

He had served in a bank for twenty years; then he retired and established his business. His children were now well settled.

Note: Here we cannot use either since or the Past Perfect Continuous.

  • Past Perfect Continuous is used when the action began before the time of speaking in the past, and continued up to that time.

It was now eight and she was tired because she had been cleaning the house since dawn.

  • When two actions are to be taken place on some future time, we use Future Perfect for the action completed first and Present Simple for the action to be completed afterwards

The student will have left the class before the teacher comes.

  • Future Perfect is used for such incidents/actions about which we presume that another person already had the knowledge of that incident or the action is already completed that time.

You will have heard about Mother Teresa.

He will have read the newspaper so far.

Important Rules of Noun

  • Some nouns are always remain in plural form. These nouns have no singular form.

Examples embers, fetters, fireworks, longings, lees, odds, outskirts, are particulars, proceeds, proceedings, riches, remains, shambles, Assets, alms. amends, annals, archives, ashes, arrears, athletics, shears, spectacles, surroundings, tidings, tactics, tongs, auspices, species, scissors, trousers, pants, clippers, bellows, vegetables, valuables, wages bowels, braces, binoculars, dregs, earnings, entrails etc.

  • Some nouns look plural in form but have singular meaning. Such nouns take singular verb.

Examples news, innings, innings, politics, summons, physics, economics, ethics, mechanics, mathematics, measles, mumps, rickets, billiards etc.

  • Some nouns look singular but have plural meaning. Such nouns take plural verbs.

Examples cattle, clergy, cavalry, infantry, poultry, peasantry, children, gentry, police etc.

  • Some nouns are always used in singular. These are uncountable nouns. We should not use article A/An with such nouns.

Examples scenery, poetry, furniture, advice, information, hair, language, business, mischief, bread, stationery, crockery, luggage, baggage, postage, knowledge, wastage, money, jewellery, breakage etc. We cannot make such nouns plural by adding ‘s’ or ‘es’. 

  • Some nouns have the same form in singular as well as in plural.

deer, fish, crew, family, team, jury, carp, pike, trout, aircraft, counsel, swine, vermin, etc.

Important Rules of Pronoun

  • Enjoy, apply, resign, acquit, drive, exert, avail, pride, absent, etc. when used as transitive verbs, always take a reflexive pronoun after them. When ‘self’ is added to my’, your’, him’, her’ and it’ and ‘selves’ to our’ and ‘them-they are known as reflexive pronouns.

I absented myself from the office.

I revenged myself upon her.

  • If pronouns of different persons are to be used together in a sentence, the serial order of persons should be as follows: second person +third person + first person in a good normal sentence. But if a fault is to be confessed, the order will be: first person +second person + third person.

You, he and I have finished the work. (Normal sentence)

I, you and he are to blame. (Confession)

Incorrect  Ayan, I and you have finished our studies.

Correct You, Ayan and I have finished our studies.

Trick to remember: In positive case it will be 231 and in negative case the formula is 123

Important Rules of Infinitive/Gerund

  • Following verbs when used in active voice, take infinitive- Bid, let, make, feel, watch, behold, hear, overhear etc.

She bade me go.

I didn’t notice him go.

I made him sing. notice, observe, see, know.

In passive these verbs take infinitive ‘with to’

  • The following verbs and phrases should be followed by a gerund which is verbal noun: enjoy, admit, deny, ‘appreciate’, ‘regret, avoid’, help’, ‘consider’, ‘stop’, ‘looking forward to’, ‘accustomed to’, ‘do not mind’, ‘object to’,’with a view to’ etc.

Incorrect  I am looking forward to receive your reply.

Correct I am looking forward to receiving your reply.

Incorrect  He is used to work hard. 

Correct He is used to working hard. 

Important Rules of Connectors

  • ‘No other’ is followed by ‘than’
  • ‘Not only’ is followed by ‘but also’
  • ‘Though’ is followed by ‘yet’ not by ‘but’
  • ‘Scarcely’ and ‘Hardly’ is followed by ‘when’ not by ‘than’
  • ‘No Sooner’ is followed by ‘than’
  • ‘Lest’ is followed by ‘should’
  • ‘Such’ is followed by ‘as’
  • ‘So’ is followed by ‘that’
  • Doubt is followed by ‘if’ or ‘whether’

Important Rules of adjectives

There are comparative adjectives such as prior,junior,senior,inferior,superior,posterior,anterior,prefer,elder etc are followed by ‘to’


(a) He is superior to me

(b) She is junior to me.

(c) Ram is senior to Shyam.

(d) He came prior to me.

Note: Major, Minor, exterior, interior, outer, lower, ulterior, upper, former, inner are some words that resemble with comparative degree adjectives are no comparatives.

Important Rules of Unenglish

  • The word Females’ is often misused for women. The word female actually indicates sex. A human being belongs either to the male or the female sex. It is incorrect to say-The females of this village- instead we should say- the women of this village.
  • Hope implies a happy news or some favourable anticipation. The following use of hope is wrong. e.g., I hope to get fever today. Instead we should say I fear I am going to have fever today’.
  • Addicted to: It is always used in a bad sense. It is never used in a good sense. We can never say-‘He is addicted to singing. as, ‘He is addicted to gambling.’ Or, “He is addicted to drink.”
  • All Right The word should always be written as two separate words and never as alright.
  • Broadcast We can not say ‘broadcasted’. ‘Rahul’s speech was broadcast (not, broadcasted) from the Nationa channel.
  • An English teacher The correct phrase is teacher of English. An English teacher means a teacher who likes in England.
  • Passing marks/Linking road/Linking language The correct phrase is pass marks / link road link language

Superfluous Expression

  • Cousin Brother /Cousin Sister brother/sister should not be used together with cousin.
  • Consensus Opinion Here opinion is superfluous. Consensus means collective opinion.
  • Consort husband/Consort wife Here husband / wife is superfluous. Consort means husband or wife especially of a ruler.
  • Supposing if If is superfluous.
  • During the period of war or During the war period. The correct phrase is during the war.
  • Return back The use of back is superfluous. Return= go/come back.
  • Reimburse back The use of back is superfluous. Reimburse=Pay back Retreat back Use of back is superfluous.
  • Retreat back/Recede back/Recall back/Recapitulate back/Recast back Use of back is superfluous.
  • Reborn/Rebuild/Regain/Recall again Use of again is superfluous. Reborn= born again
  • Equally as good as Either use equally or as good as. Both denotes same meaning.
  • Mutual agreement Use of mutual is superfluous. Agreement is always mutual.
  • Mutual friend/interest The correct phrase is common friend/interest.
  • Await for Use of for is superfluous. await = wait for Comprise of ‘of” is superfluous.
  • Comprise of Comprise means Consist of
  • Despite of ‘of’ is superfluous. Despite= in spite of
  • Coward man: Man is superfluous. Coward = a cowardly man
  • Flee away Away is superfluous. Flee run away
  • With bag and baggage Use of with is superfluous. bag and baggage means with all belongings.

Hope this article will help to ace your preparation and will give you the knowledge on how to solve Spotting Errors in English in competitive exams.

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