CAT Prep: Brush up your basics for Error Correction in Verbal

| 11 June 2013 0553 IST

Once you have built your Verbal Ability preparation strategy for CAT 2013, your next step should be to focus on each major areas of the section one by one.
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The questions based on Correction of Errors in paragraphs and sentences can correctly be answered only when the fundamentals in English Language have properly been understood.

Once you have built your Verbal Ability preparation strategy for CAT 2013, your next step is to focus on each major areas of the section. You must have divided the syllabus into different major sections.  

Our previous prep article on VA suggested how you can divide CAT Verbal syllabus.

In the first major area - Error Correction, you need to be very attentive while solving these questions as it carries minor errors also. The questions based on Correction of Errors in paragraphs and sentences can correctly be answered only when the fundamentals in English Language have properly been understood. The preparation and strategy to this module should be considered the first part of Verbal Ability since the concept building of fundamentals will lead the aspirants not only in getting the questions answered correctly, but also equip them with the finest skill set to understand and crack the questions in other segments as well, like vocabulary usage, jumbled paragraphs and reading comprehension.

You need to cover following topics in errors corrections for learning fundamentals. 

A. Grammar – Core topics like Articles-definite, Indefinite, omission  and repetition of articles; nouns, numbers, genders, use of collective nouns, subject-verb agreement, pronouns- personal, relative, reflexive; Verbs and verbal phrases-usage, Adjectives and Adverbs. Non-finites- infinitive, gerund, participles; dangling modifiers; punctuation usage; conjunctions-usage of connectors

B. Tenses – Indefinite, continuous, perfect, perfect continuous, reported speech, conditional and unreal past, distinction among various words; usage of causative verbs like cause, make; usage of too-enough, as well as, along with etc. 

You must try to understand the concept in this sub-segment in the early stage of your preparation say in next 50 days. This will give you proper time for other parts which will be based on advanced application.

Foundation of Verbal Ability - Going by the trend, CAT gives a weightage of 9 to 12 marks to the error correction questions and a good command over this important area may boost your percentile.  It is expected from an aspirant that he/she has got a fair knowledge of the same as can be expected from a well educated person, aspiring to become a future Manager of a good company.

Where to start from – If you go through the past CAT papers, you will find questions based even on the usage in the simplest parts of speech – Articles – the first part of Parts of Speech in English, its usage, omission and repetition. With more than four months still left for CAT-2013, you can prepare well for this VA portion.

Articles, for example, will not take more than two hours to conceptually understand and another one hour will be needed to go through the questions based on spotting the errors in the use of articles.

The Guidance – Aimed at guiding you on ‘Article Preparation’, a brief point-wise guideline on the usage of Articles is given hereunder followed by a few solved sample question as well as from CAT.  However, the aspirants are advised in their own interest to go for more and more practice exercises. 

'A' - It is an indefinite article and is used before the singular countable noun starting with a consonant e.g.  A ten Rupee note, a horse, a fine and vivid speech,

Exceptions - Although article 'A' is used before a consonant, but it is also used before a vowel, the sound of which begins like a consonant, for example -

 A  European, A University, (E and U being pronounced as 'yu'), Similarly, if a consonant sounds like a vowel, article A will not be used before the said word but article ‘An’ will be used  e.g. An Honest person,  An honour to the profession ( H of the honest and honour being pronounced as 'O' - Onest, Onour)

‘THE’- It is a definite Article and is Used before the names of things unique of their kind in the Universe –  The earth, the moon, the jupitar, the sky, the sun, the sea.  The other usage are as follows:

  1. Used before superlatives -  the best, the worst, the ugliest, the darkest
  2. Used before the Ordinal numbers – the seventh page of the chapter, the first man to set foot on the moon.
  3. Used before the names of famous/certain books – the Geeta, the Vedas, the Ramayana, the Illiad
  4. Used before a certain place, person, thing or the one already referred to –

The park, where the boy went, is a little far away;

  1. Used when the singular noun is supposed to represent the entire class - The cow is a useful animal ( Cows are useful animals);
  2. Used before the names of certain proper nouns – the Ganga, the Yamuna, the Amazon, the Pacific, the Arabian sea
  3.  Used before the names of certain countries which include the words like Kingdom, Republic, group of islands, seat of Government – the United Kingdom, the Irish Republic, the Netherlands, the Hague( it is the seat of Government of the Netherlands)

       Omission of the Article     

  1.  It is omitted before a common noun used in its wildest sense – e.g. Man is mortal.
  2.  Omitted before the names of materials – as, Gold is a precious material, Cotton grows in India, America and Egypt.
  3. Omitted before Proper Noun – (Except the ones referred earlier) Delhi, India, Mumbai, Shakespeare, Mount Everest, Ram, Rahim.
  4. No article before Abstract Noun – Wisdom is the gift of Heaven, Virtue is its own reward, Honesty is the best policy
  5. No article before languages – English, Hindi, French

Repetition of the Article

  1. When two or more connected nouns refer to the same person or thing, the article is used before the first only but when two or more connected noun refer to different persons or things, the article is used before each.

The secretary and Treasurer is absent             (One person)
The Secretary and the Treasurer are absent       (Two persons)


  1. When two or more adjectives qualify the same noun, the Article is used before the first adjective only but if they are meant to qualify the different nouns, expressed or understood, the Article is normally used before each adjective.

I have a blue and white motorcycle.  (one motorcycle)
I have a blue and a white motorcycle (two motorcycles) 

 CAT Questions – Now, look at the following sentences that formed parts of four sentences in each Paragraph, supposed to be corrected by the examinee, in various CAT examinations:

  1. Nike sought to be a industry leader in employee relations. ( Article ‘an’ must be used before a vowel, sounding also as vowel) so, an industry leader...   (2008)
  2. Although you did make a effort to meet me, ( Article ‘an’ must be used before a vowel, sounding also as vowel)  make an effort...... (2008)
  3. None but an utopian only, might have thought to bring back the Ram Raj in this country. (Although  ‘U’ in the word utopian, is a vowel but it does not begin with a vowel sound.  It gives the sound of ‘Yu’, which is not a vowel) so, a utopian..... (2006)

 Direction-Q.1 - 4  In each question there are four sentences or parts of sentences that form a paragraph. Identify the sentence(s) or part(s) that is/are incorrect in terms of grammar including, spelling, punctuation and usage. Pick out the most appropriate option, out of the options that follow the question 

Q 1.

  1. When the Sun rose in East, Eskimos
  2. began to make their houses of snow and ice; but.
  3. the Moon did not rise till after ten; they
  4. were left with no alternative but to eat the dinner.


  1. A only  2.A&B   3. C only    4. C & D 

Ans.1.A only – When the Sun rose in the East, the Eskimos....

2. A. Like true sportsmen they would
B. give enemy fair play; everyone knows
C. Neil Armstrong was first man to walk on moon; and

D. Now  you must draw map of India.


  1. B, C,& D   2. A& C,    3. B & D    4. A, B & C  

  Ans. 1. B, C & D – give the enemy,   C. The first man to walk on the moon  D. Draw the map of India


A. It is irony that he likes to picture
B. himself as original thinker
C. but has never been able to set back
D. clock which is always hour too fast.

  1. A only     2. A,B & D    3. B,C   4. A & B

Ans. 2. A, B & D – an irony; as an original thinker; an hour too fast


A. The doctor says it is hopeless case
B. And I am so worried about him; I
C. have not seen him since he was child
D. It is a fact while there is life there is hope

  1. D only  2. A & C   3. B & D    4. A only

Ans. 2. A & C – it is a hopeless case; ... since he was a child

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