Killing 2 Birds with 1 Stone: Revise Synthesis and Grammar With These 4 Question Types!

Phrase of the day

Hello once again! I hope that everyone has been coping well with your studies! As the PSLE draws nearer and the time for revision gets shorter, some of you may be wondering if there are more efficient ways to revise for English. Well, here is some good news: there are!

In English Paper 2, there are some components that are more closely related to one another than others. In particular, the grammar MCQ and the Synthesis sections both test you on your knowledge of grammar and sentence structure. Today, I will highlight 4 common and yet tricky question types that may appear in either or both sections! 

4 common question types tested in Sentence Synthesis and Grammar

By revising these question types, your synthesis skills can be improved in tandem with your grammar skills!

Question type 1: Subject-verb agreement questions with ‘all’

Revise Grammar with subject verb agreement

Subject-verb agreement questions test you on whether you know if the subject of the sentence is singular or plural. Usually, you will have to identify the form of the verb correctly. 

In particular, there are questions that involve ‘all’ and they are not always plural! Let’s read on and see what I mean!

Let’s take a look at some example questions in Grammar MCQ and Synthesis!

In Grammar MCQ, you can encounter questions on ‘all’ that look like the following:

Question Type 1: Subject-verb agreement questions

In the question above, ‘furniture’ is uncountable, so it is singular. Hence, even if there is an ‘all’ in front, the subject is singular. 

In Synthesis, you may encounter questions like the following:

Subject-verb agreement questions with all

In this question:

  • ‘everyone’ refers to people and they are countable. Hence, ‘all’ in the answer statement is referring to ‘all of the people’ and they are plural. 

  • The phrase ‘but Ken’ is not the subject but the extra information in the sentence, so we ignore it.

  • Tenses must always be kept the same! Thus, ‘finds’ must be changed to ‘find’. 

Final tip for ‘all’!

Do take note of uncountable nouns that are commonly mistaken as countable:

  1. equipment

  2. furniture

  3. homework

  4. information

  5. luggage / baggage

  6. money

  7. news

Question type 2: Subject-verb agreement questions involving ‘one’ and ‘none’

When you encounter subject-verb agreement questions involving ‘one’ and ‘none’, you will usually see them in this structure:

One of the women…

None of the children…

When you encounter the structures above, remember: the subject is ‘One’ and ‘None’, not the plural nouns behind them. Ask yourself: Why would they bother to put ‘One of’ or ‘None of’ if they just want to talk about the women or the children behind? Hence, the stress is on the subject before ‘of’:

Revising Grammar: Subject-verb agreement questions involving one and none

As the spelling suggests, ‘one’ and ‘none’ are SINGULAR terms. Do you see the ‘one’ in ‘none’? That indicates that it is singular.

Let’s take a look at some examples!

In Grammar MCQ:

Revise grammar with these 4 question types

In Synthesis:

Revise synthesis with these 4 question types

Question type 3: Extra information

In English, there are phrases that help to introduce extra information into a sentence. These phrases are:

  • as well as [A]

  • along with [A]

  • except [A]

  • together with [A]

These phrases can appear in the middle or at the beginning of a sentence. For example:

a) Tigger, as well as Piglet, loves Pooh.

b) Together with Lily, Lenard wishes all students good luck for their exams. 


1) Take note of the punctuation:

  • Use 2 or 0 commas if the extra information phrase is in the middle

  • Use 1 comma after the extra information phrase if it starts the sentence

2) Also, for ‘except’, we need ‘for’ if the phrase is at the beginning of the sentence. For example:

  1. Everyone except Tom loves hiking.

  2. Except for Tom, everyone loves hiking.

Let’s take a look at some questions involving extra information!

In Grammar MCQ:

Revising Synthesis with Extra Information Questions
Revising Grammar with Extra Information questions

In Synthesis:

Question type 3: Extra Information


For the Synthesis question above, you should also take note of the following sentence structures that are wrong:

X: Together with John’s expedition guide, John checks the equipment before scaling the mountain. (Error: repetition of the same information)

X: Together with John’s expedition guide, he checks the equipment before scaling the mountain. (Error: ambiguity in ‘he’ —> ‘he’ can now refer to anyone, not just John)

Question type 4: No sooner had… than & hardly / barely / scarcely had…when

When we want to state that one event happens immediately after another, we can use the following correlative conjunctions to do so:

Revising Grammar with no sooner had

In Grammar MCQ, questions like to test and see if you know when to use ‘than’ and ‘when’. 

Remember: only ‘no sooner’ requires ‘than’ because ‘sooner’ is a comparative term. ‘Barely / hardly / scarcely’ all require ‘when’. Let’s take a look at some examples:

Grammar on no sooner had...than & hardly/barely/scarcely had...when

What about Synthesis questions involving such correlative conjunctions?

These correlative conjunctions can appear at the start or in the middle of the sentence, as shown in the examples above. Regardless of where it appears, the structure is as follows:

No sooner [event 1] than [event 2] 

Hardly [event 1] when [event 2]

Where event 1 = earlier action (more in the past) and event 2 = later action

In addition, although any tense can be used, exam questions tend to be in the past tense. This means that you have to use the past perfect tense for event 1 and the past tense for event 2:

No sooner had [event 1 in past perfect tense] than [event 2 in past tense]

Hardly had [event 1 in past perfect tense] when [event 2 in past tense]

Sentence synthesis questions with no sooner had

Let’s take a look at some Synthesis questions involving the correlative conjunctions:

Sentence Synthesis Questions on no sooner had...than & hardly/barely/scarcely had...when

We have come to the end of the post (Phew). I hope that I have helped to remind you about such tricky yet common Grammar / Synthesis question types! Remember to revise them until you are clear about your subject-verb agreement and correlative conjunction rules! Only then can your grammar and synthesis improve in tandem!

All the best for your revision! 

Now, it is time for you to check if you are grammar ready for PSLE. 

Try the Grammar PSLE Ready Quiz consisting of 10 questions and determine how many marks you can bag! 

Grammar Grandma Bites Quiz

Grammar Grandma Bites Quiz

You never wash your toilets, _________ you?

1)    do
2)    did
3)    don’t
4)    aren’t

Think you know the answer?

Grammar Grandma Bites

1. 30 over bite-size video lessons!

2. Unique strategies to tackle a wide range of grammar topics e.g. subject-verb agreement, neither/either type questions, collective nouns etc.          

3. Pitched at P5 and P6 levels (Or just anyone who wish to have a good grasp of grammar rules!)

Ms Quek - Lil' but Mighty English Teacher

Ms. Quek is an English Teacher at Lil’ but Mighty. She is dedicated to helping her students do well in the language through a focus on the learning process. As an educator, she believes in creating a nurturing and stimulating environment for students to learn.