GMAT Prep Verbal Grammar Review - Part I

GMAT Verbal Grammar Quick Tip - Noun - Common and Proper Nouns - Amsterdam

Nouns are used as subjects of sentences and as the objects of verbs and prepositions.
Generally there are two types of nouns - common nouns and proper nouns.

  • Common nouns refer to any place, person or thing, for example, girl, apartment, city.
  • Proper nouns refer to particular places, persons and things, for example, Mark, New York, the GMAT, the White House.

GMAT Verbal Grammar Quick Tip - Singular and Plural Nouns - Copenhagen

Nouns can also be categorized as singular nouns and plural nouns. Sometimes certain nouns are used exclusively as either singular or plural nouns. That means they do not have a corresponding word to their own singular or plural form.

  • Singular nouns are used for single occurrence, single person, single item, and etc.
  • Plural nouns are used for more than more occurrences, persons, items, and etc.

A quick comparison table of some tricky nouns in their singular and plural forms:

  • Alumnus vs. Alumni
  • Bacterium vs. Bacteria
  • Criterion vs. Criteria
  • Formula vs. Formulae
  • Medium vs. Media
  • Phenomenon vs. Phenomena

There are some singular nouns often mistaken as plural nouns because they end with “s”.

  • Citrus
  • Economics
  • Glasses
  • Means
  • Measles
  • News
  • Physics
  • Scissors
  • Series
  • Species
  • Statistics
 

GMAT Verbal Grammar - Countable and Uncountable Nouns - Dubai

Another way to group nouns is separating them into countable nouns and non-countable nouns. Countable nouns usually have both singular and plural forms. Uncountable nouns are used just as singular.

  • Countable nouns can be counted in the number of 1, 2, 3…. Examples are desk, pen, person, GMAT exams.
  • Uncountable nouns can not be counted in any numbers. Rather, they are considered an entire item. Some most commonly used uncountable nouns are water, health, and money.

Other examples of uncountable nouns include:

  • Advice
  • Anger
  • Baggage
  • Beauty
  • Gasoline
  • Information
  • Luggage
  • Smog
  • Wheat
 

GMAT Verbal Grammar - Countable & Uncountable Nouns - Hong Kong

Sometimes a noun is used as an uncountable noun when it is referred to the entire idea or substance, but it can be used as a countable noun when used in a context involving:

  • Countable pieces or containers for things.
  • Uncountable:          I prefer tea to coke.
  • Countable: Two teas (two cups of tea) for us, please.
  • Different brands, makes, or types.
  • Uncountable:          I love GMAT prep.
  • Countable:  There are so many GMAT preps to choose from.

A specific example:

  • Countable:  I found a hair today in my sandwich. It grossed me out.
  • Uncountable:          He is great at sport.
  • Countable:  Skiing is a popular sport in Austria.

GMAT Verbal Grammar Quick Tip - Collective Nouns - London

Certain nouns are used to just describe a collection of people, items, or events in their entirety. Even though they are referring to more than one thing in the collection, they are singular. However, when they are used to represent a number of collections, then they are plural.
 
Examples include:

Audience
Business
Choir
Committee
Company
Crowd
Family
Flock

Government
Group
Majority
Nation
Pack
Team
The Public
Unit

 

GMAT Verbal Grammar Quick Tip - Pronouns - Milan

Pronoun Types

A pronoun is a part of speech that is typically used as a substitute for a noun or noun phrase. There are eight subclasses of pronouns, although some forms belong to more than one group:

  • Personal Pronouns (I, you, he/she/it, we, you, they)
  •  Make sure sentences use them consistently
  • Possessive Pronouns (my/mine, his/her/its/hers, their/theirs, our/ours, etc.)
  • Do not change the gender of noun as in French
  • Reflexive Pronouns (myself, yourself, him/herself, ourselves, themselves, etc.)
  • No reflexive verbs in English

GMAT Verbal Grammar - Pronouns - Munich

  • Demonstrative Pronouns (this/these, that/those)
  • Nearness in location
  • That (pronoun) vs. That (conjunction)
  • Reciprocal Pronouns(each other, one another)
  • Interrogative Pronouns (who, what, when, where, why etc.)
  • Five w's of a journalist's first paragraph
  • Relative Pronouns (who, that, what, which etc.)
  • Related different clauses in a sentence to each other
  • That vs. Which: restrictive vs. non-restrictive clause
  • Who vs. Whom: take subject vs. take object (Please see explanation later.)
  • Indefinite Pronouns (any, none, somebody, nobody, anyone, etc.)
  • none = singular (when it means ``not one''); all = plural (if countable)
  • much = can't be counted; many = can be counted
  • less = can't be counted; fewer = can be counted

GMAT Verbal Grammar Quick Tip - Nominative and Objective Cases - Sydney

There are two pronominal cases: nominative (subject) and objective (object)

  • Subject: I, you, he/she/it, we, you, they.
  • Object: me, you, him/her/it, us, you, them.

Notice that the second person (both singular and plural) has only one form, you. The object case is used after verbs and prepositions:

  • We met her in a bookstore while looking for a GMAT book. She went to school with us

Be careful of objects that consist of a proper noun (name) + a pronoun:

  • The puppy looked across the table at Sarah and me reading our GMAT books.

These situations can seem confusing, but there is an easy method to tell which pronoun (nominative or objective) is required. Just remove the noun from the sentence to see if it still makes sense. If it does (as in "The puppy looked across the table at me"), then you have selected the correct pronoun. If it does not (as in "The puppy looked across the table at I''), then you should go back and check whether you selected the correct case for the pronoun (in this case it is the object of a preposition, at, so it should be in the objective case).

The relative pronoun who also has an objective case form, whom:

  • I kicked the girl whotried to steal my GMAT prep book.
  • (I kicked the girl. She tried to steal my GMAT prep book.)
  • I smiled at the girl whom I had kicked.
  • (I smiled at the girl. I had kicked her

GMAT Verbal Grammar Quick Tips - Possessive Forms - Melbourne

All these pronouns have possessive forms that do not have apostrophes:

  • my, your, his/her/its, our, your, their

These act as adjectives, and are followed by nouns. If there is no noun and the possessive form is used by itself, this form is said to be disjunctive:

  • mine, yours, his/hers/its, ours, yours, theirs.

Again, there is no apostrophe. The relative pronoun who has the possessive form whose:

  • I comforted the student whose GMAT test had been stepped on.

One is used as a supplementary pronoun; it does have an apostrophe in the possessive:

  • One can only do one's best on the GMAT.

Note that one's is used only if the subject one is present; following with his would not be acceptable.

GMAT Verbal Grammar Quick Tip - Agreement & Reference - Antwerp

There are several pronominal forms which seem to be plural but act as singular, taking singular verbs and singular pronouns if they act as antecedents. The most common of these words are another, any, anybody, anything, each, either, every, everybody, neither, no one, nobody, none (not one), etc.; they must be followed by a singular verb, whatever the meaning might indicate:

  • Not one of the GMAT books was right for me.
  • Everybody wanted his or her own way regarding their GMAT preparation.
  • Always look back to see what the pronoun refers to; where there is a generalization, it is sometimes tempting to treat a singular as a plural:
  • Man, in all his glory, has created the GMAT.

GMAT Verbal Grammar Quick Tip - Adjectives - Brussels

Usage - An adjective is a descriptive word that qualifies a noun, making it more specific:

  • The red GMAT book.
  • The old red GMAT book.
  • The big old red GMAT book.
  • The two young GMAT tutors lived in Greenwich Village.
  • A bright light flashed through the window of the house where she was studying for the GMAT.

Adjectives are usually arranged in the order of specificity. Words normally used to perform other grammatical functions may be used as adjectives. These can be recognized by their position before the noun to which they apply:

  • remote-control car
  • war effort
  • Christmas cookies
  • spring carnival

GMAT Verbal Grammar Quick Tip - Adjectives & Predicates - Ghent

Adjectives can also be used to form a predicate with the verb to be:

  • Chocolate is yummy.

Normally, only `true' adjectives can be used to form this kind of predicate. It is not possible to say:

  • Wrong: The cookies were Christmas.
  • Wrong: The carnival was spring.

In such cases, it is necessary to use the prop-word, one:

  • The cookies were Christmas ones.

There are three forms of a `true' adjective.Normal

  • big
  • beautiful

Comparative:

  • more beautiful

Superlative:

  • bigger
  • most beautiful

No agreement to noun is necessary for an adjective.

GMAT Verbal Grammar - Adverb - Paris

An adverb is a part of speech used mainly to modify verbs but also adjectives and other adverbs. Adverbs describe how, where or when.Adverbs are formed in a few different ways:

  • Most adverbs are formed from adjectives by the addition of the ending "-ly" (as in suddenly, playfully, interestingly) or "-ally" after words in -ic (as in, automatically).
  • Some adverbs are formed from nouns in combination with other suffixes: -wise (as in, clockwise, lengthwise) and -ward(s) (as in, northwards, westwards, skyward).
  • Some common adverbs have suffixes, as in: here/there, now, well, just
  • Some adverbs can qualify other adverbs (the most common are intensifiers, such as very, as in "very quick").
  • Some adverbs have the same form as their adjective counterpart, e.g., fast, long, first.
  • Not all words ending in -ly are adverbs: lovely, ungainly, and likely are adjectives. The word only and early may be either.

GMAT Verbal Grammar Quick Tip - Adverbial Position - Lyon

Adverbs modify verbs in the same way adjectives qualify nouns<

The adverb often follows the verb it modifies:

  • I whispered quietly to my friends across the GMAT exam room, “Good luck!”.

Sometimes it precedes the verb:

  • I really wanted to talk to her about my GMAT preparation plan.

Sometimes position determines meaning:

  • I think clearly about math problems on the GMAT. (My thinking is clear.)
  • I clearly think GMAT prep is important. (It is clear that I think.)

Where emphasis is needed, the adverb may be put first, and the verb and subject inverted:

  • Never have I seen such a difficult GMAT practice exam.

GMAT Verbal Grammar Quick Tip - Adverb vs. Adjective - Marseille

Position and Meaning - When adverbs are used to modify adjectives, it is important to work out the relationships between them:

  • She heard an odd, chilling sound coming from the GMAT exam room.
  • She heard an oddly chilling sound coming from the GMAT exam room.

If one is not careful it is easy to confuse whether a word is an adverb or an adjective, and in either case, which other word it is modifying in the sentence. The change from adjective to adverb can change the meaning drastically:

  • The proctor appeared quick after I accidentally dropped my GMAT exam
  • The proctor appeared quickly after I accidentally dropped my GMAT exam.

In this example when the adjective is used, it appears that the centaur is quick, whereas when the adverb is used, it is the centaur's appearance that occurred quickly.

  • Good vs. well: When used as adjectives, good refers to morality or quality and well refers to health. However, only well can be used as adverb and good is always an adjective.
  • Correct: I feel good about my GMAT preparation. I feel well. I am well. I'm doing well
  • Wrong: I am doing good

GMAT Verbal Grammar Quick Tip - Adverb and Adjective - Berlin

Great care must be taken to align only with the word it actually modifies, because its positioning can affect the meaning of the sentence:

  • I did GMAT prep only yesterday - I don't need to do any today.
  • I only did GMAT prep yesterday - I didn't do anything else.
  • I did only GMAT prep yesterday. - I didn't eat anything else.
  • Only I did GMAT prep yesterday - nobody else did any.

Early may be both adjective and adverb:

  • I take the early train.
  • I get up early to take the train.

Adjective Only

Notice that some verbs may take adjectives to complete the meaning required (complementary adjectives). These verbs cannot form a complete thought without the required adjectives:

  • He looks confused today about the GMAT class.
  • The music seemed loud where they were studying for the GMAT.

Likely

Special care must be taken with the adjective likely. It is often mistaken for an adverb because of its form, but this is not an acceptable usage. For example:

  • Correct: The GMAT is likely to be difficult.
  • Wrong: The GMAT will likely be difficult.

Like (used as adjective or preposition)

Like, with its opposite unlike, should be treated as an adjective or a preposition; that is, it must always have a noun to relate to. A predicate is formed with the verb to be:

  • The GMAT is like a box of chocolates. (the GMAT resembles a box of chocolates.)

Used in the form of a phrase, like will link two nouns (or noun phrases) of the same kind. In this case, like functions as a preposition, a phrase-maker, and it is categorized so in some grammar books.

  • Like any politician, the GMAT instructor told half-truths about his personal life.

Like vs Such As

In the above example, like is used to introduce similarity between two items or persons. This is an accepted usage in Sentence Correction on the GMAT. In other words, like cannot be used to introduce examples or a subset of a category, which should be used following such as.

  • Correct: I enjoy playing musical instruments such as piano and violin.
  • Wrong: I enjoy playing musical instruments like piano and violin.

In sum, on the GMAT, use like before a noun or pronoun when emphasizing similar characteristics between two persons, groups or things. Use such as before a noun or phrase when introducing examples.

Like vs. As/As If/As though

Use like before a noun or pronoun. Use as before a clause, adverb or prepositional phrase. Use as if and as though before a clause. Like is generally used as a preposition in such a context. As is generally used as an adverb while sometimes serving as a preposition with the meaning of "in the capacity of". As you can tell, the focus of the comparison shifts from the noun when used with like to the verb when used with as, as if, or as though.

  • My GMAT tutor’s cheesecake tastes like glue.
  • "I love frozen pizza because there is no other snack like it,” said the GMAT instructor.
  • My GMAT instructor’s mother’s cheesecake tastes great, as a GMAT instructor’s mother’s cheesecake should.
  • There are times, as now, that learning GMAT grammar becomes important.
  • The GMAT tutor golfed well again, as in the tournament last year.
  • He served as GMAT student in the GMAT course.
  • The GMAT instructor often told half-truths, as any politician would.
  • The GMAT tutor looks as if he knows me.
  • It looked as if his GMAT prep was working in his favor.
  • The GMAT proctor yelled at me as thoughit was my fault the tests were misplaced.

The same rule applies when you use the expressions seem likeand look like.

  • The GMAT test seemed like an easy test at first.
  • That looks like a very easy GMAT practice test.
  • Wrong:It seemed like the GMAT tutor liked me.
  • Correct: It seemed as if the GMAT tutor liked me.

Here the comparison is with a clause, not a noun.

GMAT Verbal Grammar Quick Tip - Phrases - Jakarta

Due to

Due to is also used adjectivally, and must have a noun to attach itself to:

  • due to a long-term illness during the semester, was disappointing.

(That is, the failure was attributable to the long-term illness, not the disappointment, which would have had other causes, such as the failure.)

Owing to

If an adverbial link is needed, the expression owing to has lost its exclusively adjectival quality:

  • My poor score on the GMAT was disappointing owing to a long-term illness during the semester.

(In this case, the disappointment at the failure was caused by the long-term illness during the semester.)

Preposition

Prepositions are words that are placed before a noun making a particular relationship between it and the word to which it is attached.