A Few Common English Mistakes to Avoid During the UPSC Exam Process

“Grammar is…the pole you grab your thoughts up on their feet and walking.” – Stephen King


English is a language many Indians are familiar with. But still in general, we still falter when it comes to the accurate usage of this language. This article points out certain common mistakes people tend to make when writing and speaking English. We hope that IAS aspirants, who think they need a little help in this regard will find it useful in their IAS exam process – both the IAS mains and the IAS interview. Read this article to enhance your answer writing in the UPSC mains exam.

  1. Using apostrophes – apostrophes (‘) are used to express belongings and also to shorten certain words.

Examples to show belongings:

This is Ben’s book. (Meaning: this book belongs to Ben).

The horse’s speed is good.

Examples to show short forms:

Cannot – can’t

Do not – don’t

For plurals do not use apostrophes.

This is wrong: Book’s for sale.

This is right: Books for sale

  1. Difference between its and it’s –

Its – this shows belonging. Example: Its reputation is good.

It’s – it’s a hot day today. (it is a hot day today).

  1. Difference between your and you’re –

You’re is a contraction of ‘you are’.

Example: You’re busy now?

Your implies belonging to you.

Example: This is your book.

  1. Difference between they’re, there, their –

They’re – is a short form of ‘they are’.

Example: They’re coming over.

There – to state that something is present.

Example: Is there an exam today?

Their – shows belonging.

Example: This is their school.

  1. Difference between ‘amount’ and ‘number’ –

Both refer to quantity but number is when you can count the actual number.

Amount is when you cannot count in numbers.

Example: the amount of people present…

The number of people present…

Amount of sand in the beaker…


The following table gives a few common errors and the correct usage:



Cope up with

Cope with

You need not to do

You need not do

Many a times

Many a time/many times

Revert back to me

Revert to me

Called as


Get rid off

Get rid of

Discussing about


Give an exam (when writing an exam)

Giving an exam means you are the teacher giving the exam for students to take.

Take an exam (I took the IAS Prelims today – if you wrote the exam)

Be rest assured

Rest assured/be assured

More better

Even better

I wish I was an IAS officer

I wish I were an IAS officer

Prepone the dates

Advance the dates


For more such articles and strategy on clearing the IAS exam, visit the BYJU’S free IAS prep website.

The UPSC will release their notifications for civil services exam for 2017 on February 22nd. Visit BYJU’S Website for the latest news on the notifications page.


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