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GMAT Sentence Correction errors

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Whether you want to pursue an MBA degree in the United States, Canada, Singapore, a few European or Australian universities, a high GMAT score can significantly distinguish you from the crowd during the application shortlisting process. Hence, there is no arguing how significantly a good GMAT score increases your chance of getting through an MBA Program. The GMAT Verbal Reasoning has sections like Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction. 

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Table of Contents: 

5 Most Common GMAT Sentence Correction Errors

We have enumerated 5 most prevalent errors observed in the Sentence Correction section within the GMAT Verbal Reasoning section:

  1. Subject-Verb Agreement: Students often need to catch errors related to the agreement between subjects and verbs. This happens when they need help recognizing whether the subject is singular or plural, leading to incorrect verb forms. 
  2. Misplaced Modifiers: Not paying attention to modifiers results in ambiguity or alteration of intended meanings. 
  3. Faulty Parallelism: The lack of parallel structure among sentence elements diminishes clarity and coherence. 
  4. Idiomatic Usage Errors: An incorrect idiomatic expression leads to non-standard language usage. 
  5. Verb Tense and Mood Inconsistencies: A prevalent mistake involves discrepancies in the application of verb tenses and moods. It disrupts the temporal and logical flow of sentences. 

Awareness and rectification of these errors are imperative for proficiency in Sentence Correction within the GMAT Verbal Reasoning section.
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Subject-Verb Agreement Errors

Subject-verb Agreement is a fundamental topic of Grammar, whether the subject of a sentence must agree with its verb in number (singular or plural).
Errors arise when there are complex sentences & when the subject is not immediately adjacent to the verb.

Example 1: Basic Agreement

  • Incorrect: The cat, along with the dogs, are outside.
  • Correct: The cat, along with the dogs, is outside. 

Explanation: The subject of the sentence is “The cat,” which is singular. The phrase “along with the dogs” is a parenthetical element and does not affect the singular nature of the subject. Thus, the verb should be “is” to match the singular subject. 

Example 2: Compound Subjects Joined by "And"

  • Incorrect: The manager and the employees is planning a meeting.  
  • Correct: The manager and the employees are planning a meeting.

Explanation: When joined by “and”, two subjects become plural. Therefore the subject verb should be “are”.

Example 3: Subjects Separated by Phrases or Clauses

  • Incorrect: The bouquet of flowers smell lovely.  
  • Correct: The bouquet of flowers smells lovely.

Explanation: The subject "The bouquet" is singular, even though it is followed by a prepositional phrase "of flowers." The verb should agree with the singular subject "bouquet," so the correct form is "smells."

Example 4: Indefinite Pronouns

  • Incorrect: Everyone on the team have finished their tasks.  
  • Correct: Everyone on the team has finished their tasks.

Explanation: Indefinite pronouns like "everyone," "each," and "someone" are singular and require singular verbs. "Everyone" is treated as a singular subject despite referring to multiple people, so the verb should be "has."

Example 5: Collective Nouns

  • Incorrect: The committee are deciding the dates for the event.  
  • Correct: The committee is deciding the dates for the event.

Explanation: Collective nouns like "committee," "team," and "family" are treated as singular when they refer to a single group acting as a unit. Therefore, the verb should be "is" to match the singular subject "committee."

Example 6: Subjects with Quantifiers

  • Incorrect: A number of students is waiting outside.  
  • Correct: A number of students are waiting outside.

Explanation: The phrase "a number of" is treated as plural because it refers to multiple students. Hence, the verb should be "are." Conversely, "The number of students waiting outside" would be correct if "the number" is used since it refers to a singular entity.

Example 7: Inverted Sentences

  • Incorrect: There is many reasons for his decision.  
  • Correct: There are many reasons for his decision.

Explanation: In sentences starting with "There is" or "There are," the verb must agree with the actual subject that follows. Since "reasons" is plural, the correct form is "There are."

Students can significantly reduce subject-verb agreement errors in their GMAT Sentence Correction tasks by understanding these common scenarios and practicing with varied examples. This understanding is crucial not only for the GMAT but also for mastering English grammar in general.

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Misplaced Modifiers Errors

Misplaced modifiers are a frequent stumbling block in GMAT Sentence Correction. A modifier is a word or phrase that provides additional information about another word or phrase in a sentence. When a modifier is placed too far from the word it is supposed to modify, the sentence can become confusing or the meaning can be distorted. Here are several examples to illustrate this error and how to correct it.

Example 1:

  • Incorrect: "Running quickly, the finish line was soon in sight."
  • Problem: The modifier "running quickly" seems to describe "the finish line," which is illogical.
  • Correct: "Running quickly, she soon saw the finish line."

Example 2:

  • Incorrect: "Covered in dust, he found the old book on the shelf."
  • Problem: The modifier "covered in dust" incorrectly seems to describe "he" instead of "the old book."
  • Correct: "He found the old book covered in dust on the shelf."

Example 3:

  • Incorrect: "To improve her performance, the coach gave many tips to the athlete."
  • Problem: The modifier "to improve her performance" is misplaced, suggesting that the coach, not the athlete, needs to improve performance.
  • Correct: "The coach gave many tips to the athlete to improve her performance."

Example 4:

  • Incorrect: "Walking through the park, the flowers were in full bloom."
  • Problem: The modifier "walking through the park" seems to describe "the flowers," which cannot walk.
  • Correct: "Walking through the park, she noticed the flowers were in full bloom."

Example 5:

  • Incorrect: "After reading the book, the movie seemed very dull."
  • Problem: The modifier "after reading the book" incorrectly suggests that the movie, not the person, read the book.
  • Correct: "After reading the book, she found the movie very dull."

Misplaced modifiers can obscure a sentence's meaning and make it grammatically incorrect. To avoid this error, ensure that the modifier is placed next to the word it is meant to describe. This placement makes the sentence clear and logically coherent. Practice identifying and correcting misplaced modifiers can significantly improve one's performance in the Sentence Correction section of the GMAT.

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Faulty Parallelism Errors

Faulty parallelism occurs when elements in a sentence meant to be parallel in structure are presented inconsistently. This can make sentences awkward and unclear. Ensuring that elements such as lists, comparisons, and pairs are in the same grammatical form is essential for clarity and readability. Here are some detailed examples to illustrate faulty parallelism and how to correct it:

1. Lists or Series:

  • Incorrect: She enjoys reading books, to write stories, and cooking meals.
    In this sentence, the verbs are not in the same form. "Reading" and "cooking" are gerunds, while "to write" is an infinitive.
  • Correct: She enjoys reading books, writing stories, and cooking meals.
    All the verbs are now gerunds, ensuring parallel structure.

2. Comparisons:

  • Incorrect: He prefers playing soccer to to play basketball.
    The verb forms "playing" and "to play" do not match, disrupting parallelism.
  • Correct: He prefers playing soccer to playing basketball.
    Both verbs are now in the gerund form, maintaining parallelism.

3. Correlative Conjunctions:

  • Incorrect: She is not only talented in singing but also dances well.
    The phrases following "not only" and "but also" are not parallel. "Talented in singing" is a noun phrase, while "dances well" is a verb phrase.
  • Correct: She is not only talented in singing but also talented in dancing.
    Both phrases now follow the same structure, ensuring parallelism.

4. Paired Elements:

  • Incorrect: The coach advised the players to practice regularly and that they should maintain a healthy diet.
    The elements paired by "and" are not in the same grammatical form. "To practice regularly" is an infinitive phrase, while "that they should maintain a healthy diet" is a clause.
  • Correct: The coach advised the players to practice regularly and to maintain a healthy diet.
    Both elements are now infinitive phrases, ensuring parallelism.

5. Complex Lists:

  • Incorrect: The committee's goals include improving community relations, increasing public safety, and to promote local businesses.
    The list items are not parallel. "Improving" and "increasing" are gerunds, while "to promote" is an infinitive.
  • Correct: The committee's goals include improving community relations, increasing public safety, and promoting local businesses.
    All the list items are now gerunds, ensuring parallelism.

6. Sentence Structures:

  • Incorrect: She wanted to learn how to play the piano, how to speak French, and the art of painting.
    The first two items are "how to" phrases, but the third item is a noun phrase, disrupting parallelism.
  • Correct: She wanted to learn how to play the piano, how to speak French, and how to paint.
    All items now follow the "how to" structure, ensuring parallelism.

Maintaining consistent grammatical structures ensures that your writing is clear, concise, and easy to understand. Practising parallelism helps achieve a polished and professional writing style, which is crucial for success in the GMAT Sentence Correction section.

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Idiomatic Usage Errors

Idiomatic usage refers to expressions and phrases that are natural to native speakers but may not follow logical rules or patterns. Non-native speakers can find idiomatic expressions in English particularly challenging because they often need to translate them directly from other languages. Indian students, like many non-native English speakers, might find these idiomatic nuances difficult to grasp. Here are several examples of common idiomatic errors and their corrections:

1. Incorrect Preposition Use

  • Example 1: "He is concerned about to his future."
    Correction: "He is concerned about his future."
  • Example 2: "She is good in math."
    Correction: "She is good at math."

2. Incorrect Verb and Preposition Combinations

  • Example 1: "They are looking forward for the trip."
    Correction: "They are looking forward to the trip."
  • Example 2: "He is addicted with video games."
    Correction: "He is addicted to video games."

3. Wrong Collocations

  • Example 1: "She has a talent of singing."
    Correction: "She has a talent for singing."
  • Example 2: "He made a research on the topic."
    Correction: "He conducted research on the topic."

4. Incorrect Usage of Expressions

  • Example 1: "They did a mistake in the report."
  • Correction: "They made a mistake in the report."
  • Example 2: "She takes care for her siblings."
  • Correction: "She takes care of her siblings."

5. Wrong Use of Common Phrases

  • Example 1: "He is capable to finish the project on time."
    Correction: "He is capable of finishing the project on time."
  • Example 2: "I prefer tea than coffee."
    Correction: "I prefer tea to coffee."

Tips to improve idiomatic usage:

  • Read Extensively: Reading books, articles, and newspapers in English helps people become familiar with idiomatic expressions.
  • Practice with Idioms Lists: Numerous resources list common English idioms. Regular practice with these can be beneficial.
  • Use Flashcards: Creating flashcards with idiomatic expressions and their correct usage can aid in memorization.
  • Engage with Native Speakers: Conversations with native English speakers can provide insights into the natural usage of idioms and phrases.
  • Review Mistakes: Analyzing and understanding mistakes made in practice tests or exercises can help avoid future mistakes.

Students can improve their sentence correction skills on the GMAT by paying close attention to idiomatic usage, increasing their overall verbal score.

Verb Tense and Mood Inconsistencies Erros

The verb tense and mood inconsistencies are prevalent issues in GMAT Sentence Correction. These errors occur when the verb tense or mood does not logically align with the sentence's temporal context or intended meaning. Below are detailed explanations and multiple examples to illustrate these errors.

Verb Tense Inconsistencies

1. Mismatched Tenses in a Sentence

Students often mix past, present, and future tenses inappropriately within a single sentence or related sentences, disrupting the logical flow of time.

Example:

  • Incorrect: "She was reading the book when her friend calls."
  • Correct: "She was reading the book when her friend called."

2. Incorrect Sequence of Tenses

Maintaining a consistent sequence of tenses is crucial, especially in complex sentences. The choice of tense in one clause should logically follow from the tense used in another clause.

Example:

  • Incorrect: "After he finished his work, he is going to the gym."
  • Correct: "After he finished his work, he went to the gym."
  • Alternatively: "After he finishes his work, he goes to the gym."

3. Unnecessary Shifts in Tense

An unnecessary shift in tense occurs when a sentence changes tense without a clear reason, confusing the timeline of events.

Example:

  • Incorrect: "She enjoys cooking, and last night she made a delicious meal."
  • Correct: "She enjoys cooking, and she makes delicious meals regularly."
  • Alternatively: "She enjoyed cooking, and last night she made a delicious meal."

Verb Mood Inconsistencies

1. Indicative Vs. Subjunctive Mood

The indicative mood is used for statements of fact, while the subjunctive mood is used for hypothetical or non-real situations. Confusing these moods can lead to errors.

Example:

  • Incorrect: "If I was you, I would study harder."
  • Correct: "If I were you, I would study harder."

2. Conditional Mood Errors

The conditional mood is used to express conditions and results. Errors occur when the wrong verb forms are used in conditional sentences.

Example:

  • Incorrect: "If he would have prepared better, he could have passed the exam."
  • Correct: "If he had prepared better, he could have passed the exam."

3. Imperative Mood Misuse

The imperative mood is used for commands or requests. Errors arise when commands are improperly structured.

Example:

  • Incorrect: "You must to finish your homework now."
  • Correct: "You must finish your homework now."
  • Alternatively: "Finish your homework now."

Additional Examples

1. Narrative Tense Consistency

  • Incorrect: "She travels to Paris last year and visits all the famous museums."
  • Correct: "She traveled to Paris last year and visited all the famous museums." 
  • Alternatively: "She travels to Paris every year and visits all the famous museums."

2. Future and Conditional

  • Incorrect: "If it rains tomorrow, we will cancel the picnic."
  • Correct: "If it rains tomorrow, we will cancel the picnic." (No change needed as this example is correct)

3. Hypothetical Situation

  • Incorrect: "If he was here, he would be helping us."
  • Correct: "If he were here, he would be helping us."

By carefully observing the context and ensuring verb tense and mood consistency, students can avoid these common errors and construct clearer, more precise sentences.

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From the Desk of Yocket: 

Mastering the intricacies of Sentence Correction in the GMAT Verbal Reasoning is essential for a good score. After you read this blog, you will have a clear idea of where you can go wrong. You ought to work on these areas and practice as much as possible. Remember, proficiency in Sentence Correction boosts your GMAT score and enhances your language skills. 


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FAQs on GMAT Sentence Correct Errors

What are the sentence correction errors in GMAT?

How to get good at sentence correction in GMAT?

Is sentence correction removed from GMAT?

What are the Grammar rules for GMAT Sentence Correction?

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