As you enter the most important phase of your CAT preparation, a number of questions must be popping in your head. One of those questions must be: how to study for CAT grammar in the next few days? But before knowing the right approach for grammar preparation, you need to understand the anatomy of CAT grammar questions and the areas probed traditionally. These would give you a fair estimate of what you need to study in the coming months.
Most of the students think that grammar is so vast and its rules are infinite. You will be surprised to know that the truth is that there are just a few rules and grammar is easy to master. As far as the types of questions go, CAT used to feature grammar questions in the form of Sentence Correction questions, requiring you to identify the correct/incorrect sentences. In 2015, the Verbal Ability section of CAT was revamped to include Non-MCQs while error-based questions nearly disappeared. Nevertheless, it is crucial for you to be fully aware of the fundamental rules of grammar since they guide you through most of the questions of Verbal Ability.
The tricky part in these questions is not the format but the kind of errors probed in these questions. The error types in grammar-based questions include errors related to the parts of speech. Take a look at the important grammar rules so as to make the correct usage of various parts of speech:
- Correct usage of Nouns
Example:Incorrect: He ran an amazing 10 miles race and bagged the trophy.
Correct: He ran an amazing 10-mile race and bagged the trophy. A compound noun like '10-mile race' will always be singular and not plural. More examples of the same are: 'a five-foot room' (Not a five feet room) and 'a hundred rupee note' (Not a hundred rupees note).
- Pronoun Related Errors
Example: Incorrect: How could she blame you and he for the accident?
Correct: How could she blame you and him for the accident?
In this sentence the objective form of the pronoun, i.e. 'him' will be used because the subject is 'She' and the objects are 'you' and 'him.'
- Correct usage of Adjectives and Adverbs
Example Incorrect: They played real good
Correct: They played really well.
Good is an adjective; we say he is a good boy. The adverb form of 'good' is 'well'. 'Real' is also an adjective and we will use the adverb form 'really' to modify the adverb 'well'.
- Subject-Verb Agreement
Example Incorrect: His mastery of several sports and the social graces make him a sought-after prom date.
Correct: His mastery of several sports and the social graces makes him a sought-after prom date.
Subject-Verb Agreement states that a singular verb should be used with a singular subject and a plural verb should be used with a plural subject. In this given sentence, the subject is 'mastery' and it is a singular subject, so we will use the singular verb 'makes'.
- Verb Tense errors
Example: Incorrect: If the cyclist wins the race, it will be representing an extraordinary comeback from his earlier cancer.
Correct: If the cyclist wins the race, it will represent an extraordinary comeback from his earlier cancer.
In this case, the sentence starts with 'if', which indicates a hypothetical situation and 'if that happens, it will represent a comeback' only once, so we would not be using future continuous tense but simple future tense.
- Prepositional errors
For Example Incorrect: Scientists are excited and interested in the innovations in the field of agriculture.
Correct: Scientists are excited about and interested in the innovations in the field of agriculture.
The correct preposition to be used after 'excited' is 'about' and not 'in'.
- Errors related to Conjunctions
Example Incorrect: Although Harsh had prepared well for the exam he still failed.
Correct: Although Harsh had prepared well for the exam yet he failed.
The conjunction 'although' is followed by 'yet' and not 'still'.
The above errors form the core of basic grammar errors. An ideal approach for preparation involves working on each one of the areas mentioned above one at a time.
The second set of errors that make an appearance in CAT (and it is not a friendly appearance) involve the following type of errors:
- Punctuation errors
- Idiomatic errors
Out of these, the first one can be managed fairly easily, but the latter can pose a challenge.
Let's discuss some of the previous year CAT questions to clarify the application of Grammar rules:
Directions: Select the option that is correct in terms of grammar and usage (including spelling, punctuation and logical consistency) and can effectively replace the underlined incorrect part of the given sentence. Choose the most appropriate option.
Q.1. It is the powerful compound capsaicin that makes a chilli pepper hot; a single drop that has no taste and odour is capable of detection by humans at one part per million.
- a single drop that has no taste and odour is capable of detection
- a single drop is detectable, though without taste and odour,
- a single, tasteless and odourless drop can be detected
- single, tasteless and odourless drops are capable of detection
Answer: Option C
Solution: After semicolon, the next sentence needs to be an Independent clause. All options appear to be Independent clauses. When a word is used in several ways (as Noun, Adjective, Verb) preference goes as per VAN rule (Verb>Adjective>Noun).
So, it should be: detected > detectable > detection.
- a single drop that has no taste and odour is capable of detection: violates VAN rule
- a single drop is detectable, though without taste and odour: violates VAN rule
- a single, tasteless and odourless drop can be detected: favors VAN rule
- single, tasteless and odourless drops are capable of detection: violates VAN rule
Directions for questions 2 to 4: In each of the following questions there are sentences that form a paragraph. Identify the sentence(s) or part(s) of sentence(s) that is/are correct in terms of grammar and usage (including spelling, punctuation and logical consistency). Then, choose the most appropriate option.
Q.2. A. In 1849, a poor Bavarian imigrant named Levi Strauss
B. landed in San Francisco, California,
C. at the invitation of his brother-in-law David Stern
D. owner of dry goods business.
E. This dry goods business would later became known as Levi Strauss & Company.
1. B only 2. B and C only 3. A and B 4. A only 5. A, B and D
Answer: Option 1
Solution: Error in A - spelling of imigrant is immigrant
Error in C - , (comma) required after in-law & David Stern
Error in D - ..'a' required before 'dry goods business'
Error in E - ..would later 'become'
Q.3. A. In response to the allegations and condemnation pouring in,
B. Nike implemented comprehensive changed in their labour policy.
C. Perhaps sensing the rising tide of global labour concerns,
D. from the public would become a prominent media issue,
E. Nike sought to be a industry leader in employee relations.
1. D and E 2. D only 3. A and E 4. A and D 5. B, C and E
Answer: Option 4
Solution: Error in B - ……changes in “its” labour policy
Error in C - sensing that….
Error in E - an industry leader
Q.4. A. Charges and countercharges mean nothing
B. to the few million who have lost their home.
C. The nightmare is far from over, for the government
D. is still unable to reach hundreds who are marooned.
E. The death count have just begun.
1. A only 2. C only 3. A and C 4. A, C and D 5. D only.
Answer: Option 3
Solution: Error in B - it should be millions
Error in D - it should be ‘the hundreds’
Error in E - the death count “has” just begun
Some more tips for CAT Grammar questions:
- One option for preparing English grammar for CAT is to study from the book 'High School Grammar and Composition by Wren and Martin'. Treat this as your textbook which you can use for reference purpose for clarifying core topics.
- Another good book is 'Better English by Norman Lewis'. It is written in an informative and interesting style, which makes it easy to read and understand the grammar basics.
- The other option is to use your reading skills for identifying these errors. You are advised to build a basic list of these errors (you can do so by writing down all the errors that appear in your tests) and keep revising this list to ensure that you are able to memorize these errors.
- You need to practice grammar exercises to ensure that you maximize your score in these questions. Solve 10 to 20 grammar questions per day, and as stated above, make a list of the new errors you learn from every test. In the last thirty days, this list will work as your ready-reckoner for grammar.
Considering the above mentioned guidelines, prepare a plan of how you will go ahead with the Verbal Ability section. Take the following test to check how well prepared are you in Grammar.