Spot the error in Nouns - Rules, examples and practice questions

1)   Read each sentence given below and find out whether there is an error in it. The error, if any will be one of the parts of the sentence which are marked as 1,2,3 and 4. If there is no error, the answer will be (5) i.e. No error. (Ignore the errors of punctuation, if any).

Darts are (1) / played by (2) / men as well (3) / as women. (4) / No Error (5)


a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4
e. 5
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 1

Explanation:
'Darts' is a noun, which 'looks' plural, but is used as 'singular'.

The correct sentence should be: Darts is played by men as well as women.

To understand this type of errors, we must understand the behavior of nouns.

Nouns can be divided into several types, as covered in this and following questions.

Nouns that look like plural, but are used as singular


News, Mathematics, Ethics, Linguistics, Phonetics, Politics, Economics, Statistics, Measles, Rickets, Billiards, Darts, Droughts, Innings, Gymnastics, Mechanics, Classics, Physics, Summons, Gallows
Example:
Incorrect:Mathematics are a difficult subject.
Correct:Mathematics is a difficult subject.

Incorrect:Politics are a dirty game.
Correct:Politics is a dirty game.
The similar explanation applies to the usage of all other words listed above.


2)   Recently I visited (1) / Singapore and found (2) / the sceneries to be (3) / breathtaking. (4) / No Error (5)

a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4
e. 5
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 3

Explanation:
Replace 'sceneries' by 'scenery'.

'Scenery' is an uncountable noun, it cannot be made plural by joining 's/es'.

The correct sentence should be: Recently I visited Singapore and found the scenery to be breathtaking.

Nouns which are used in 'singular'.

Luggage, Baggage, Breakage, Furniture Drapery, Imagery, Scenery, Poetry, Pottery, Machinery Work, Paper, Wood, Iron, Stone, Glass, Dust, Rubbish, Dirt Electricity, Traffic, Information, Advice Food, Bread, Grass, Stationary, Mischief, Infantry Offspring, Issue, Abuse, Cavalry, Fuel, Alphabet, Hair, Bedding

Example
Incorrect:I do not like poetries of Anand.
Correct:I do not like poetry of Anand.

Incorrect:The old furnitures were disposed of.
Correct:The old furniture was disposed of.


3)   The police (1) / is becoming (2) / more and more (3) / inactive. (4) / No Error (5)

a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4
e. 5
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 2

Explanation:
Replace 'is' with 'are'. Although 'police' appears singular, yet it is used in 'plural' sense.

The correct sentence should be: The police are becoming more and more inactive.

**You do not need to add “s” “es” to make them plural.

Nouns that are used in 'plural'


Cattle, People, Police, Gentry, Peasantry, Electorate, Nobility, Poultry, Riches, Odds Arms, Bellows, Fetters, Pincers, Tongs, Sheers, Scissors Trousers, Pants, Pantaloons, Trappings, Socks, Shorts, Stockings Clergy, Folk, Mankind, Vermin, Public, Premises, Alms, Goods, Surroundings
Example
Incorrect:Peoples should be loyal to the nation.
Correct:People should be loyal to the nation.
The similar explanation applies to the usage of all other words listed above.


4)   The present datas (1) / show that the (2) / death rate (3) / has fallen down. (4) / No Error (5)

a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4
e. 5
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 1

Explanation:
Use of 'datas' is wrong. The word 'data' is used in both, singular and plural form.

The correct sentence should be: The present data show that the death rate has fallen down.

Nouns that have same form in singular and plural.

Series, Species, Deer, Sheep, Fish, Cod, Yoke, Salmon, Salmon, Turbot, Pike, Mackerel
Headquarters, Means, Score, Agenda, Data Apparatus, Swine, Rice, Heathen, Pan, Amends
Example
Incorrect:A series of lectures were delivered.
Correct:A series of seminar was delivered.

Incorrect:The headquarter of the Army is in Delhi.
Correct:The headquarters of the Army is in Delhi.
Note that the above words should be used carefully and according to the sense which the sentence intends to convey.


5)   She has bought (1) / a dozen of copies (2) / of English Grammar (3) / books. (4) / No Error (5)

a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4
e. 5
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 2

Explanation:
The correct expression should be - 'a dozen copies' or 'dozens of copies'.

The correct sentence should be: She has bought a dozen copies of English Grammar books.

Nouns that express measure, money, length, weight, number or counting

Foot, Thousand, Hundred, Meter, Pair, Score, Million, Year, Head, Dozen
Example:
Incorrect:Seven hundreds miles is a long distance.
Correct:Seven hundred miles is a long distance.

Incorrect:It was a ten-years project.
Correct:It was a ten-year project.

Incorrect:Three dozens eggs have been bought.
Correct:Three dozen eggs have been bought.


6)   Indian force (1) / are known for (2) / their loyalty (3) / and integrity. (4) / No Error (5)

a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4
e. 5
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 1

Explanation:
The correct use should be - 'forces'. Some nouns have more than one meaning in their singular and plural form. 'Force' denotes 'strength', 'forces' denotes 'troops/ army'.

The correct sentence should be: Indian forces are known for their loyalty and integrity.

Let us now see some nouns that have more than one meaning in their singular and plural form,



Singular form of Noun and its MeaningPlural form of Noun and its Meaning
Gain - Profit, Acquisition of wealthGains - Profits
Light - Lamp, BrillianceLights - Lamps
Wood - Timber, ForestWoods - Forests
Force -Strength, Body of Armed menForces - Troops
Abuse - Wrong use, ReproachAbuses -Wrong Practices

Example:
Wood is used as a fuel to light furnaces. (Timber)
We lost our way in the woods. (Forests)

Force should be met with force. (Strength)
A force of 15 persons robbed the bank. (Body of armed men)


7)   He instructed me (1) / to write the (2) / telegram in (3) / capital letter. (4) / No Error (5)

a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4
e. 5
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 4

Explanation:
The correct usage is - 'letters'. The intention here is to convey that the complete telegram is to be written in block(capital) letters.

The correct sentence should be: He instructed me to write the telegram in capital letters.

Similarly,

Singular form of Noun and its MeaningPlural Form of Noun and its Meaning
Arm - Upper limb (part of body)Arms -Weapons, Upper limbs
Provision - ConditionProvisions - Conditions, Food
Colour - HueColours - Flags, Hues
Spectacle - SightSpectacles - Eye-glasses, Sights
Letter - AlphabetLetters - Alphabets, Messages
Custom - HabitCustoms - Duties on goods, Habits
Manner - MethodManners - Behavior, Methods
Pain - AchePains - Troubles, Careful efforts


8)   The judge (1) / ordered that the (2) / iron of accused (3) / should be removed. (4) / No Error (5)

a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4
e. 5
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 3

Explanation:
Use 'irons' instead of 'iron'. Here, 'irons' denote 'chains'. Some nouns change their meaning when used in plural form.

The correct sentence should be: The judge ordered that the
irons of the accused should be removed.

Some nouns that change their meaning when used in plural form:

Noun (Singular Form)MeaningNoun (Plural Form)Meaning
BlindUnable to seeBlindsA screen for a window
AdviceCounselAdvicesInformation
AuthorityCommandAuthoritiesPersons in power
CharacterMoral qualities of individualCharactersPeople in novel, play or films
GoodNiceGoodsProperty (things)
IronMetalIronsChains
ContentSatisfactionContentsThings contained
RespectRegardsRespectsCompliments
WorkJobWorksCompositions
EarningIncomeEarningsSavings
QuarterOne-fourthQuartersHouses
AirAtmosphereAirsAffected manners, Proud behaviour
Example
It is shameful to use force with a woman. (Strength)
The forces on the border are always alert. (Army)

I shall return within two hours. (Come back)
The returns were very poor. (Earnings)


9)   You cannot (1) / master physics (2) / without learning the (3) / formula that govern it. (4) / No Error (5)

a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4
e. 5
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 4

Explanation:
Replace 'formula' by 'formulae'. Some nouns have more than one plural form with different meanings.

Here, Formula - Singular

Formulas - Plural, meaning- Methods of application

Formulae - Plural, meaning- Rules of Physics

The correct sentence should be: You cannot master physics without learning the formulae that govern it.

The following is the list of some nouns with two plural forms which differ in meaning:

Noun (Singular)Plural IMeaningPlural IIMeaning
PennyPenniesSeparate coinsPenceCollective noun
FishFishConsidered collectivelyFishesConsidered separately
ShotShotsThrow, stroke or hit in certain gamesShotsFiring from the gun
IndexIndexeTables of contentsIndicesSigns in algebra
ClothClothsPieces of clothClothesGarments
BrotherBrothersSons of the same parentBrethreMembers of a community or society


10)   The price of (1) / production in the (2) / industrial sector (3) / has gone up. (4) / No Error (5)

a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4
e. 5
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 1

Explanation:
Replace 'price' with 'cost'. Nouns like price and cost are often confused.

Price denotes amount paid by the customer, cost denotes amount paid by the manufacturer/shopkeeper.

The correct sentence should be: The cost of production in the industrial sector has gone up.

Example:

NounsProper UseExample
1.HabitIt belongs to individual.He is a victim of bad habits.
CustomIt belongs to society or country.The Nigerians have strange customs.
2.HouseIt is a building to live in.This house is made of bricks.
HomeIt is a particular house in which one is living.You must go home now.
Home may also denotes one's native place orIndia is the home of the Indians.

List of Nouns (Pairs) often confused:
Nouns (in pairs)Proper Meaning
1. Cause'Cause' produces results.
Reason'Reason' explains or justifies a cause.
2. GroundIt is outside of the house.
FloorIt is part of the room.
3. ShadeA place sheltered from the sun.
ShadowThe shade of any object.
4. CustomerA buyer of goods
ClientOne who avails oneself of services.
5. ManMale human; Used in general sense
GentlemanMan of character
6. Air'Air' is what we breathe
Wind'Wind' is what makes the leaves of the tree move.


11)   All his (1) / sister-in-laws are (2) / very beautiful to (3) / look at. (4) / No Error (5)

a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4
e. 5
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 2

Explanation:
The correct form is: 'sisters-in-law'.

There are some nouns which are combination of two or more words. These kind of nouns are known as Compound Nouns.

Such nouns get their plural by adding 's' to the main or the root/principal word.

The correct sentence should be: All his sisters-in-law are very beautiful to look at.

Let us now see list of some compound nouns and their correct plural forms,

SingularPlural
Daughter-in-lawDaughters-in-law
Hanger-onHangers-on
Commander-in-chiefCommanders-in-chief
Brother-in-lawBrothers-in-law
Passer-byPassers-by
Looker-onLookers-on


SingularPlural
Book-caseBook-cases
Class-fellowClass-fellows
Race-horseRace-horses
Step-sonStep-sons
Cast-awayCast-aways
Maid-servantMaid-servants
Horse-raceHorse-races


12)   Women after women (1) / spoke against (2) / the practice (3) / of dowry. (4) / No Error (5)

a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4
e. 5
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 1

Explanation:
In cases of the form, “Noun + Preposition + Noun”, noun is always singular. i.e. woman after woman.

The correct sentence should be: Woman after woman spoke against the practice of dowry.

Examples:

IncorrectCorrect
Days after daysDay after day
Days by daysDay by day
Rows upon rowsRow upon row


13)   One of the problem (1) / with you is that (2) / you are (3) / not sincere. (4) / No Error (5)

a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4
e. 5
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 1

Explanation:
The correct usage is: One of the problems.

In cases of the form, “One of + the + Noun(Plural)”, the noun is always plural.

The correct sentence should be: One of the problems with you is that you are not sincere.

In the same way, note the proper use of nouns after the following phrases,

Each of + the + Noun (Plural noun should be used) e.g. Each of the boys

Similarly, Either of + the + Noun (Plural) Neither of + the + Noun (Plural)e.g. Either of the girls
Most of + the + Noun1. If Noun is Uncountable, use Singular form of noun e.g. Most of the time

2. If Noun is Countable, use plural form of noun e.g. Most of the visitors
None of + the + Noun (Plural) e.g. None of the boys

Any of + the + Noun (should be Plural) - Only if Noun=Countable

e.g. Any of these three girls
All of + the + Noun1. If Noun is Uncountable, use Singular form of noun e.g. All of the luggage

2. If Noun is Countable, use plural form of noun e.g. All of the coins

Let us now see the proper application of apostrophe ( 's )

Man/animal - man's life, ram's wife, dogs' kennels, cows' tails
Time - a moment's delay, a week's leave, a month's absence
Weight - a ton's weight; a gram's weight
Money - a rupee's value; a Pound's worth
Space - a razor's edge, a needle's point, a boat's length.
Some dignified natural objects - the earth's surface/gravity/creatures/area etc. The sun's rays; heaven's will
Special cases - The ship's arrival/departure, The train's arrival/departure, The plane's arrival/departure, A boat's crew
Note: I) Apostrophe ('s) is not used with two immediate/consecutive nouns.
e.g. Rachit's wife's career – incorrect.

The correct usage is - The career of Rachit's wife

II) In case of compound nouns, apostrophe ('s) is used with tailing word.

e.g. Son-in-law's shirt

The Government of India's order


14)   I visited (1) / Ram's and Sita's house (2) / thrice but found (3) / the couple absent. (4) / No Error (5)

a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4
e. 5
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 2

Explanation:
The correct expression is- Ram and Sita's house. When two nouns are closely related, apostrophe ('s) is used with tailing noun.
The correct sentence should be: I visited Ram and Sita's house thrice but found the couple absent.


15)   “Everybody's business (1) / is nobody's business” (2) / said the (3) / teacher. (4) / No Error (5)

a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4
e. 5
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 5

Explanation:
No error in the sentence.

The correct sentence should be: “Everybody's business is nobody's business” said the teacher.

Note here that apostrophe ('s) is also used with the following -

Anybody/ Somebody/ Nobody/ Everybody/ Anyone/ Someone/ No one/ Everyone


16)   I like (1) / your suggestion (2) / and (3) / nobody's else. (4) / No Error (5)

a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4
e. 5
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 4

Explanation:
Replace 'nobody's else ' with nobody else's. With 'anybody else/ somebody else', apostrophe is used with 'else'

The correct sentence should be: I like your suggestion and nobody else's.

Similarly, in case of one another and each other , apostrophe ('s) is used after 'other'.
e.g. They liked each other's idea.