Take a Break from conventional CAT Grammar

Error Spotting Event

We recently sent a promotional email giving discounts for spotting grammatical errors. The response was heartening . I am posting the mail here so that people who did not come across the mail earlier can have a go at it. For people preparing strenuously for the CAT, I hope this would serve as a welcome respite from the rigours of CAT Preparation.

   Square Root Day Mail!    We had conducted a similar event and had offered discounts for answering numerical questions, see the post here.

Care to spot some errors and be the Grammar Nazi ? The  passage is given below. I have given the corrected version right after this. Happy cracking!!

Greetings all,

This email brings with it another “Earn your Discount” offer from 2IIM. This time we want to ride on one of the most delicious incremental sequences in math. In the last mail, we promised the best discount only to 3 people but ended up offering it to a staggering 12 students. Similarly, we might fib on accidentally in this email as well.

Now, on to the rules – there are ‘n’ English errors in this email (starting from the following sentence). For spotting the first error, a student gets 0% discount; for the second error, the student will get an additional 1% discount. For spotting three errors, the discount will be 1%; for spotting 4 errors it will be 2%. There will be a 3% discount for 5 errors, 5% discount for spotting 6 errors, 8% discount for spotting 7 errors and so on. There is an additional discount for identifying the above sequence and spotting the reference to this sequence from this email. Though there are more than ten errors to spot, we’ve capped the maximum discount at ten errors.

If any student picks a “non-error” – that is, points out grammatically correct usage to be an error, that will count as negative. As in, if a student has pointed out 7 errors correctly but erroneausly pointed out one correct usage as error, he/she will be eligible for discounts equivalent to spotting only 6 errors.

I have been thinking of drafting this email since two months but have never managed to squeeze out the time. Odd as it may seem, it is proving far tougher planting errors in sentences than letting them slip by in normal usage. I am not fastidious and make quiet a few errors in the English language, but cometh the challenge and I am typing more correctly than William S.

Perhaps it has something to do with speed. Off the cuff, I am trying to speak fastly and this lands me in trouble. When the thought process is slowed down and therefore more deliberate, the mistakes drop in number. The clichés mount, as if our minds are conditioned to searching for the clichés and to locate the best of the oft-repeated clauses around.

I am not an English teacher by trade, my grasp of the language merely honed from years of reading and a vague intuitive sense of grammatical correctness. I cannot spot my dependent clauses from the independent ones if my life depended on it. So, bear this in mind while trying to crack this and do not get all Martin and Wren on me. This also brings me to the final two rules of this email – 1) I will be the judge on what is considered an error in this competition and 2) In case of doubt, refer to rule 1. So, all the grammar Nazis all looking to delight in spotting obscure errors in a bid to fortify the English language – back off.

It is important to keep that in mind competitive exams worry less about grammatical jargon than they do about a sense of correct usage. When preparing, make sure that your grammar theory merely compliments your intuition and does not end up killing it. It is also important to have a sense of joy when dealing with the language, though prickly English teachers do not make liking the language any easier.

So, let us create a mechanism to combat the pedants. Let us sign a pact among student, teacher and mentor to not let any of the sticklers get to us. Having said that, make sure you focus on the fundamentals well. Getting the basics right and the errors low are very critical to cracking this exam.

Also, keep in mind that grammar is learnt in small nuggets. Success in adding small errors and misspellings to your list to create the framework for handling questions in this section.

Quite a few students spotted all the errors. I have given below the corrected versions.

The discount sequence is the fabulous Fibonacci sequence. And the word Fibonacci has been planted in the passage as well. I will highlight that also in the passage.

Greetings all,

This email brings with it another “Earn your Discount” offer from 2IIM. This time we want to ride on one of the most delicious incremental sequences in math. In the last mail, we promised the best discount only to 3 people but ended up offering it to a staggering 12 students. Similarly, we might fib on accidentally in this email as well.

Now, on to the rules – there are ‘n’ English errors in this email (starting from the following sentence). For spotting the first error, a student gets a 0% discount; for the second error, the student will get an additional 1% discount. For spotting three errors, the discount will be 1%; for spotting 4 errors it will be 2%. There will be a 3% discount for 5 errors, 5% discount for spotting 6 errors, 8% discount for spotting 7 errors and so on. There is an additional discount for identifying the above sequence and spotting the reference to this sequence from this email. Though there are more than ten errors to spot, we’ve capped the maximum discount at ten errors.

There must be an article before “0% discount”.

If any student picks a “non-error” – that is, points out a grammatically correct usage to be an error, that will count as a negative.

The offending portion here is the misconstruction of the conditional statement. “that will count as negative” implies that it is the error and not the act of picking a non-error that will be counted as negative. Technically this is not so much bad grammar as careless construction. So it will be “it will count as negative”.

The correct sentence will follow: If any student picks a “non-error”—that is, points out grammatically correct usage to be an error, it will count as negative.

As in, if a student has pointed out 7 errors correctly but erroneausly pointed out one correct usage as erroneous, he/she will be eligible for discounts equivalent to spotting only 6 errors.

This is a simple misspelling: erroneously, not “erroneausly”. Also error must be replaced by erroneous.

I have been thinking of drafting this email since two months but have never managed to squeeze out the time. Odd as it may seem, it is proving far tougher planting errors in sentences than letting them slip by in normal usage.

“Since” is a word in relation to a particular point in time; it finds application in such phrases as “since his birth”, “since two years ago”, “since the calamity”.

The correct phrase could be “for two months” or “since two months past”.

I am not fastidious and make quiet a few errors in the English language, but cometh the challenge and I am typing more correctly than William S.

“Quiet” should be replaced with “quite”.

Perhaps it has something to do with speed. Off the cuff, I am trying to speak fastly and this lands me in trouble.

The adverbial form of “fast” is just ”fast” and not “fastly”.

When the thought process is slowed down and therefore more deliberate, the mistakes drop in number. The clichés mount, as if our minds are conditioned to searching for the clichés and to locate the best of the oft-repeated clauses around.

The error here results from a faulty parallel construction—using one clause to refer to multiple things in a list. The requirement that has not been met is that the things in the list must have the same grammatical form. Here “searching for the clichés” and “locate the best of the oft-repeated clauses around” are respectively noun and verb.

The correct sentence would be: The clichés mount, as if our minds are conditioned to searching for the clichés and to locating the best of the oft-repeated clauses around.

I am not an English teacher by trade, my grasp of the language merely honed from years of reading and a vague intuitive sense of grammatical correctness.

I cannot spot my dependent clauses from the independent ones if my life depended on it. So, bear this in mind while trying to crack this and do not get all Martin and Wren on me. This also brings me to the final two rules of this email – 1) I will be the judge on what is considered an error in this competition and 2) In case of doubt, refer to rule 1. So, all the grammar Nazis all looking to delight in spotting obscure errors in a bid to fortify the English language – back off.

It is important to keep that in mind competitive exams worry less about grammatical jargon than they do about a sense of correct usage.

It’s “keep in mind that”, not any other permutation of syntax.

When preparing, make sure that your grammar theory merely compliments your intuition and does not end up killing it. It is also important to have a sense of joy when dealing with the language, though prickly English teachers do not make liking the language any easier.

A simple instance of oversight with regard to homophonic spellings is at work here—“complements” is to take the place of “compliments”. For the former means to bolster or augment something; the latter is to express appreciation.

So, let us create a mechanism to combat the pedants. Let us sign a pact among student, teacher and mentor to not let any of the sticklers get to us. Having said that, make sure you focus on the fundamentals well.

The error here hidden is the usage of the word “among” when speaking of something that exists “between” people. When one says “pact among”, it is as though “pact” is a part of the group, not something that characterizes the group.

The correct sentence is: Let us sign a pact between student, teacher and mentor to not let any of the sticklers get to us.

Getting the basics right and the errors low are very critical to cracking this exam.

In this sentence, the verb ‘are’ refers to the word “Getting” and should be in singular form.

The correct sentence is: Getting the basics right and the errors low is very critical to cracking this exam.

Also, keep in mind that grammar is learnt in small nuggets. Success in adding small errors and misspellings to your list to create the framework for handling questions in this section.

The highlighted “sentence” is incomplete.

The complete sentence could be: Success in adding small errors and misspellings to your list will create a framework for handling questions in this section.

Rajesh

2IIM

 

 

 

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