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:

Incorrect Correct
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 Called
Get rid off Get rid of
Discussing about Discussing
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

Aspirants can refer to the UPSC Syllabus and start their preparation for the prelims and mains examination accordingly.

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

Other Related Links

General English For Competitive Exams Rules For Tenses List of One Word Substitutions
Reading Comprehension Direct & Indirect Speech Rules Idioms And Phrases
100 difference between articles Verbal Ability Government Exams


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