In this article, we highlighted 7 common grammar mistakes PSLE students make in their PSLE English papers. These are some tips on how to tackle the most common trouble spots students encounter in English grammar.
Grammar #1: Except Susan and I or Except Susan and me?
After prepositions (to, with, especially, except, etc.), objective pronouns (him, her, them, us, me) are always used.
- I gave the money to her.
- That gift is from Jane and us.
- Most of the students in the class, including me, have signed up for the writing contest.
Many students make the mistake of using the pronoun I after prepositions, especially when there are nouns before the pronoun.
- Everyone knew what was going on except Kim and
- The workers, especially Daniel and
Ime, are dissatisfied with the low pay and long hours.
Tip: If you are in doubt about whether to use an object or subject pronoun in a noun phrase, try removing the part of the noun phrase that comes before the pronoun.
- Everybody knew the answer except Mary and me. (correct)
- Everybody knew the answer except Mary and I. (incorrect)
- Uncle Sam gave the tickets to Billy, Sally and her. (correct)
- Uncle Sam gave the tickets to Billy, Sally and she. (incorrect)
Grammar #2: I saw her steal or I saw her stole?
Verbs such as see, watch, notice, hear, and feel may have an object. The verb that comes after the object is the base form of the word (without to).
- I saw her steal the bag.
- They let him go in the end.
- I hear birds sing outside my window every morning.
The verb help can be followed by the infinitive of a verb, with or without to.
- We helped her tidy the room.
- We helped her to tidy the room.
If the verb that comes after the object is in the -ing form, it suggests that the action is or was felt, seen, heard, etc., while in progress.
- I feel a breeze blowing.
- He caught her stealing the bag.
- I heard May crying for help.
Grammar #3: Prefer…to
Prefer is used with to. We don’t use than after prefer.
- I prefer apples to oranges.
- I prefer drinking coffee to tea.
Prefer can be followed by an infinitive (I prefer to walk). In such cases, we can use rather than with it.
- I prefer to watch a movie rather than cycle.
- I prefer to walk rather than cycling.
Grammar #4: Simple Past vs Past Perfect
The simple past is used to show that an action started and finished at a specific time in the past. Sometimes, a specific time is mentioned. When a specific time in the past is indicated, use the simple past.
- I lived in this house ten years ago.
- I went to Spain last year.
The past perfect is used to show that an action occurred before another action in the past.
- I had visited Singapore before I took the trip there with my family last year.
- I had never seen such a beautiful sight before I went to the Grand Canyon in the United States.
Grammar #5: Subject-Verb Agreement: A group is; A group of boys are…
Quantifying expressions such as a group of and a couple of are usually used with plural verbs.
- A group of boys are taking a hike.
- A couple of my friends have gone on vacation.
When the noun is simply used without the of portion, a singular verb is used.
- Many of the people have left, but a group has decided to stay.
Grammar #6: Subject-Verb Agreement: Either…or and Neither…nor
In a either…or or neither…nor sentence, the verb agrees with the pronoun or noun closest to it.
- Either Mary or her friends are at the party.
- Neither his friends nor he was there.
Grammar #7: Between and From
When between is used to talk about intervals, and is used.
- He swims between 7pm and 9pm every day. (correct)
- He swims between 7pm to 9pm every day. (incorrect)
From is used with to to show the starting and ending points.
- He swims from 7pm to 9pm every day. (correct)
- He swims from 7pm and 9pm every day. (incorrect)
Are you aware of these common grammar mistakes and errors? Mastering grammar will set students up a notch above the rest since it is the fundamental and a critical aspect of the PSLE English language examination papers. Learn your grammar well and avoid these common mistakes!