Recognizing Common Errors in TOEFL iBT Speaking and Writing

Use correct grammar!
Use correct grammar!


Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL iBT

Exam!”

In your TOEFL iBT writing and speaking,  some grammatical problems may interfere in the reader being able to understand your ideas: subject-verb agreement, pronouns, differentiating between adjectives and adverbs, and verb tenses. It is important to to minimize these errors if your want to get a high TOEFL iBT score.

Subject-verb Agreement:

Rule: The verb agrees with the subject, not the object of the sentence.

Incorrect: Each of the girls are going to the movies.

Revised: Each of the girls is going to the movies.

Rule: There are a few isolated cases where the verb agrees with the object. This occurs after expressions of quantity (i.e., all, most, some, half, and part.)

Incorrect: All of the book are interesting to me.

Revised: All of the book is interesting to me.

Incorrect: Some of the students is sick today.

Revised: Some of the students are sick today.

Rule: After question words, comparisons, negative expressions, place expressions, and conditions without “if,” the verb agrees with the subject, which may come after the verb.

Incorrect: On the table is the ungraded final exams.

Revised: On the table are the ungraded final exams.

Rule: Verbs are singular after certain kinds of words:

All of the these words or expressions are singular. Consequently, they require singular verbs.




anybody

everybody

nobody

somebody

anyone

everyone

no one

someone

anything

everything

nothing

something

each + noun

every + noun

Problems with Pronouns:

Rule: Do not shift from I, you, he, we, or they unnecessarily. Use one point of view consistently without distracting shifts.

Incorrect: I think that it is important for you to study every day. Additionally, we should consider asking the teacher for help when you do not understand. I have done this numerous times as an undergraduate student.

Revised: Daily studying is important. Additionally, we should consider asking the teacher for help when we do not understand. I have done this numerous times as an undergraduate student.

More Problems with Pronouns ; Problems with Possessive Adjectives:

Rule: Make sure the pronoun agrees with the noun to which it refers.

Incorrect: A student should do their homework.

Revised: A student should do his/her homework.

Revised: Students should do their homework.

Rule: Use subject pronouns, object pronouns, possessive adjectives, and possessive pronouns correctly in a sentence.

Incorrect: I brought my notebook paper with me. Did you bring your?

Revised: I brought my notebook paper with me. Did you bring yours?

Incorrect: Me and Susan are going to the park.

Revised: Susan and I are going to the park.

Incorrect: We have brought ours pencils with us.

Revised: We have brought our pencils with us.

Subject Pronouns         Object Pronouns          Possessive Adjectives           Poss. Pronouns

I

you

he

she

it

we

they

me

you

him

her

it

us

them

my

your

his

her

its

our

their

mine

yours

his

hers

—–

ours

theirs

Use in the subject position of a sentence.

Use in the object position of a sentence.

Use before a noun.

Do not use before a noun.

Differentiating between Adjectives and Adverbs

An adjective is a word that limits the meaning of a noun or pronoun. Adjectives have only one form, which is used with singular and plural nouns. With the exception of ‘this’/’these’, ‘that’/those’, adjectives have no singular or plural form.

Common Endings for Adjectives

Adjective + er/est º taller, tallestMore/most + adjective º more studiousAdjectives can take the following suffixes:

-al -ial -ical -ant -ate -en

-ese -ful -ian -ic -ing -y

-ed -er -able -ile -ish -ive

-ative -itive -less -like -ly -ous

-eous -ious

Word Order for Adjectives

Determiner + adjective + noun º the big house

Linking verb + adjective º is trueAdverb + adjective º very tallSubject + linking verb + adjective º She is intelligent.

Linking verbs: appear, be, become, feel, look, prove, seem, smell, and taste

Subject + linking verb + adverb + adjective º She is very intelligent.

“Ly” Words Which Are Both Adjectives and Adverbs

costly likely daily quarterly northerly

early lively hourly weekly easterly

friendly lonely monthly yearly southerly

kindly manly nightly lovely westerly )

Example: I pay quarterly taxes. (adjective)

Example: I pay my taxes quarterly. (adverb

An adverb is a word that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. Adverbs may indicate manner (hurriedly), place/direction (outside), time (quickly), and frequency (seldom).

Common Endings for Adverbs

Adjective+ ly ºrelativelyOther possible suffixes: -ward and -wise

Word Order for Adverbs

Adverb + adjective º extremely hot

Adverb + verb or verb phrase ºslowly ambled

Auxiliary verb + adverb + main verb º is anxiously studying

Adverb + adverb ºquite fast

Subject + regular verb + adverb ºShe acts intelligently.

Subject + linking verb + adverb + adjective º She is very intelligent.

Adverbs can be used in many positions in the sentence.

Frequently

I eat out. I frequently eat out. I eat out frequently.

Words Which Are Both Adjectives and Adverbs

deep hard late

low early high leisurely

much far kindly little near fast

Example: He runs fast. (adverb)

Example: He is a fast runner. (adjective)

Rule: Do not randomly shift verb tenses in writing.

Incorrect: Jerry nodded, and the clerk looked at me with a sorrowful face. I smiled. Having arrived at the bus station only a few minutes prior to departure, we quickly begin to say our good byes. Jerry walks me to my car. Looking deep into one another’s eyes, we hold our last conversation before he left.

Revised: Jerry nodded, and the clerk looked at me with a sorrowful face. I smiled. Having arrived at the bus station only a few minutes prior to departure, we quickly began to say our good byes. Jerry walked me to my car. Looking deep into one another’s eyes, we held our last conversation before he left.

Rule: In some cases, it is possible to use the present with the past.

I know that she went to the concert last week.

Rule: When using “by + time phrase,” use a past perfect or future perfect tense.

Incorrect: By 1990, she graduated from college.

Revised: By 1990, she had graduated from college.

Incorrect: By next week, I will finish my research paper.

Revised: By next week, I will have finished my research paper.

Rule: When using “since,” or “for + time,” use present perfect tense.

Incorrect: Since I was a child, I lived in this city.

Revised: Since I was a child, I have lived in this city.

Example: I have lived in this city for seven years. (Speaker still lives in the city.)

Example: I lived in this city for seven years. (Speaker no longer lives in the city.

Rule: When using “in + time,” use simple past.

Incorrect: In 2000, Tom graduate from college.

Revised: In 2000, Tom graduated from college.

For information, go here:

Michael Buckhoff’s “7 Step System to Pass the TOEFL  iBT

Exam!”


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