PSLE English 2016 | Editing: Common Errors (Part 1)

Hello again! I hope the first few weeks of the third school term have been kind to all of you. Editing is a section that takes up 12 marks in Booklet B of Paper 2. There are two main categories of errors that will be tested: Spelling and Grammar. Hence, it is essential for children to recognise which category that error is under before they even attempt the question. For spelling errors, the mistake is usually a mix of letters that will sound similar to the actual correctly spelled answer. As for grammar, the mistake will usually be a correctly spelled word e.g. practice, for, their etc but the wrong form may be used. 

In the following weeks, I will be focusing on the common types of errors for grammar that you may see in the editing section. Get ready to put on your grammar capes as we whizz through the first three editing items for this week!

1. The Infinitive

Quick recap: The infinitive is the most basic form of a verb e.g. eat, rest, walk. It is most often used with ‘to’ before it, for example, I hope to see you again one day.

Editing error: Not using the infinitive after ‘to’

Example 1: 


‘Diminishes’ should be corrected to ‘diminish’ because the verb comes after ‘to’, hence an infinitive is required.

Example 2: 


‘Fell’ should be corrected to ‘fall’ because the verb comes after ‘to’, hence an infinitive is required.

Tips for this type of error:

If the underlined error is a verb and comes after a ‘to’, it is highly likely that you need to use the basic form of the verb, i.e. the infinitive.
Make sure that you know the different tenses of the verbs well too. Some common verbs which children tend to be confused about are fall (present)/ fell (past) and bite (present)/ bit(past).

2. Subject-Verb Agreement 

Quick recap: In every sentence, the subject of the sentence has to ‘agree’ with the verb. The subject refers to the doer of an action or the described. A singular subject takes a singular verb while a plural subject takes a plural verb.

Example: My mother yells loudly from the kitchen.

‘Mother’ is a singular subject; therefore, the correct verb is ‘yells’.

Another example: The windows were broken yesterday.

Since the subject is plural (windows), the verb is also plural (were).

Editing error: The subject and the verb in the sentence do not agree with each other.

Example 1: 


‘Have’ should be replaced with its singular form ‘has’ because the subject of the sentence is ‘town’, which is a singular noun.

Example 2: 


‘Is’ should be replaced with its plural form ‘are’ because there are two culprits.

Tip for this type of error:

Ascertain that the underlined error is a verb. Next, look for the doer of the action and check if it is singular or plural. Then, make the necessary change to the underlined error. For more information on subject-verb agreement errors, see Mrs Chew’s post Grammar MCQ: iDoT.

3. Prepositions

Quick recap: Prepositions are linking words that show time, place, position or direction, for example, at, across, on, in, between, from and many others.

One important thing to remember is that some prepositions are part of a fixed phrase, i.e. they go with certain verbs, adjectives or nouns to create meaningful expressions. 

Example: The man was accused of stealing the money.

Here, the verb ‘accused’ needs to be followed by the preposition ‘of’ to form the correct expression.

Another example: I am interested in what you have to say.

Similarly, the preposition ‘in’ must come after the adjective ‘interested’ to convey the correct meaning.

Editing error 1: Wrong preposition


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‘Among’ should be corrected to ‘between’ because the there are only two people and ‘between’ is the correct preposition to use. ‘Among’ is used to when there are three or more people or things in a group.

Editing error 2: Incorrect expression because the wrong preposition is used



The word ‘according’ must be followed by the preposition ‘to’ to form the correct expression that means ‘as stated by’.

Another example: 


The verb ‘suffering’ needs to be followed by the preposition ‘from’ so that the expression is accurate.

Tip for this type of error:

Other than knowing the different types of prepositions and how to use them correctly, you should also be aware of common expressions in the English Language, for example, ashamed of, at risk, applied for, depends on, and many others.

Try keeping a list of these phrases especially those you have made a mistake in during practice. Revise this list at least three times a week so that you will remember it well.

Below is a table with some examples of these common expressions to help you get started
e.g. consist of,
       in 1968
This is of course not an exhaustive list and you should add more to it as you encounter such phrases when you read books and articles.

I hope you have found these tips useful. Remember to keep a lookout for Part 2 coming up next Tuesday!
Have a great week ahead!

About the Author: Nora is an English Teacher at Lil' but Mighty. She is committed to providing students with a dynamic and nurturing environment in which they can grow and develop. One of her greatest strengths as an educator is instilling a love for the English Language in her students.