ENGLISHTables of Important Words



Here are some of the very important words and expressions that a candidate of any competitive exam should understand to crack an exam with good marks. They will be very useful for the competitive exams of the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) or Grade-II DASS Exam of the DSSSB, and other similar exams:

1. Combined Graduate Level (CGL) Exam Tier-I & Tier-II
2. Combined Higher Secondary (10+2) Exam (CHSL) Tier-I
3. SI in Delhi Police and CPO Exam Paper-I & Paper-II
4. Stenographers Exam
5. Grade-II DASS Exam conducted by Delhi Staff Subordinate Services (DSSSB)

List of expressions in this post 

1. Each & Every 5. After & Before 9. Fairly & Rather 13. Alone & Lonely
2. Each Other & One Another 6. Bad & Badly 10. Seldom & Rarely 14. Against & With
3. Another & Other 7. Hard & Hardly 11. Beside & Besides 15. With & By
4. Behind & After 8. Barely & Rarely 12. After & Afterwards 16. Lest

1. Each & Every

A) When we speak of two we can only use EACH (not EVERY), but if we speak of more than two we can use either EACH or EVERY without a difference in meaning; e.g.

i) She had a bag in each hand. (You cannot use EVERY here as a person only has two hands.)
ii) EACH member has given the dues. (If the number of members is two only you can use EACH, if the number of members is more than two you can use either EACH or EVERY.)

NOTE: When the number of things/persons in a group is limited, means they can be counted, we prefer EACH (not EVERY). But when the number of things/persons is indefinite, means can’t normally be counted, we can only use EVERY (not EACH); e.g.

Every person in the rally was looking enthusiastic. (here the number of persons is indefinite, though limited. So we can use EVERY only (not EACH).

B) With words ALMOST, PRACTICALLY, NEARLY, WITHOUT EXCEPTION we cannot use EACH; with these words we can only use EVERY; e.g.

Almost every car in the car park was new.

INCORRECT: Practically each part of the banana tree is useful.
CORRECT: Practically every part of the banana tree is useful.

2. Each Other & One Another

Both EACH OTHER and ONE ANOTHER are pronouns. They are used to show that each member of a group does something to or for the other members. EACH OTHER is used for two persons, and ONE ANOTHER is used for more than two; e.g.

i) Mohan and Pooja never liked each other. (means Mohan never liked Pooja and Pooja never liked Mohan.)
ii) Everyone in the family gave one another presents. (EVERYONE means more than two.)

NOTE-I: EACH OTHER/ONE ANOTHER is often left out if the meaning is clear from the context; e.g.

Ram and Mohan met EACH OTHER in 1993.
= Ram and Mohan met in 1993.

NOTE-II: EACH OTHER and ONE ANOTHER cannot be used as subject of a sentence. Therefore this sentence is incorrect: EACH OTHER WERE READY TO GO TO THE PARTY.

NOTE-III: Be careful not to use US or OURSELVES instead of EACH OTHER/ONE ANOTHER; e.g.

INCORRECT: We’ve known us for twelve years or We’ve known ourselves for twelve years.
CORRECT: We’ve known each other/one another for twelve years.

NOTE-IV: We use EACH OTHER’S and ONE ANOTHER’S as possessive adjectives:

a) Rachna and Mansi hated each other’s husbands. (Means Rachna hated Mansi’s husband and Mansi hated Rachna’s husband.)
b) They all know very little about one another’s working habits.

NOTE-V: We don’t use EACH OTHER or ONE ANOTHER in plural form; e.g.

INCORRECT: We like each others.
CORRECT: We like each other.

3. Another & Other

ANOTHER = one extra, or an alternative or different.
OTHER = extra, or alternative, or different types of

A) Other/Another as adjectives

As adjective ANOTHER is singular, and therefore takes a singular noun; and plural for this is OTHER, we use OTHER with uncountable nouns and plural nouns.

i) Would you like another banana?
ii) What other books do you need for your daughter?
iii) Some music calms people; other music has the opposite effect. (different types of music)

NOTE: We can use OTHER as an adjective before a singular countable noun also, but in this use we must put another adjective before it; e.g.

INCORRECT: I don’t like this one. I prefer other shirt.
CORRECT: I don’t like this one. I prefer the other shirt.

INCORRECT: Hema is at university; other daughter is still at school.
CORRECT: Hema is at university; our other  daughter is still at school.

B) Other/Another as pronouns

As pronoun ANOTHER again is singular. We use OTHER as a singular pronoun but it has an adjective before it then, and we use OTHERS as a plural pronoun; e.g.

i) I saw the document and passed to another.
ii) He can solve this problem, more than any other.
iii) I’ll write only one letter today and I’ll write others tomorrow.

4. Behind & After

If something happens after a particular time or event, we use AFTER. If something is at the back of something else we use BEHIND; e.g.

INCORRECT: I parked my car after the school.
CORRECT: I parked my car behind the school.

INCORRECT: She entered the classroom behind me.
CORRECT: She entered the classroom after me.

5. After & Before

A) Common feature for all types of time clauses i.e. clauses beginning with AFTER, BEFORE, AS, AS SOON AS, etc. is that we do not use a future tense form, or a conditional tense (would) in them. To refer to the future we normally use the present simple instead of a future tense in such clauses; e.g.

INCORRECT: I’ll do another course after I will finish this one.
CORRECT: I’ll do another course after I finish this one.

B) When we use a time expression e.g. AFTER, BEFORE, WHEN, etc. to say that one event happened after another, we normally use Past Perfect Tense for the event that happened first and the Past Simple Tense for the event that happened second.

i) The patient had died before the doctor came.
ii) After Mohan had finished reading, he went to meet one of his friends.
iii) When Ritu had taken her meal, she started to read.
iv) He had worked for three hours when I met him.

NOTE-I: However Past Simple can also be used sometimes in both the clauses in such situations. Two simple past tenses are used in this way to emphasize that the second event is the result of the first, or there is no gap between the occurrence of two events; e.g.

a) After I left him a message, he phoned me immediately.
b) She worked in a hospital after she graduated.

NOTE-II: We also use Past Simple in both the clauses if the action or the event in the main clause has little or no duration and does not take place until the time mentioned in the BEFORE-clause; e.g. She walked out before I had a chance to explain.

NOTE-III: We also use Past Simple in both the clauses when a situation described in the main clause lasts until a time indicated in the BEFORE-clause; e.g.

a) It was two days before my brother returned from Agra.
b) I didn’t think I would like playing football before I tried it.

C) In time expressions, with ALREADY and JUST we use the Present Perfect Tense or the Past Perfect Tense, not the Past Simple Tense; e.g.

i) I had already finished my homework by the time my mother returned.
i) She had just entered her room when the telephone rang.
iii) I’ve just decided to sell my apartment.
iv) The train has already left.
v) I’m on my way to the station. Their train has just arrived.

D) To talk about the present in clauses beginning with AFTER, AS, AS SOON AS, UNTIL, WHEN or WHILE, we use the present tense in the main clause also; e.g.

I look after the children while she is practicing.

NOTE: However, we use the Present Perfect if we talk about an action that takes  place over a period of time; e.g.

a) After I have finished typing this paper, I’m going to meet my uncle.
b) You can leave when you’ve washed the clothes.

E) If two actions take place at the same time, we use a simple tense, not a perfect tense; e.g.

INCORRECT: Lock the door of the house as you have left.
CORRECT: Lock the door of the house as you leave.

INCORRECT: When I had seen Madhu, I invited her for lunch.
CORRECT: When I saw Madhu, I invited her for lunch.


BAD is an adjective and BADLY is an adverb; e.g.

INCORRECT:  He did bad in the exams.
CORRECT: He did badly in the exams.

INCORRECT: She speaks English very bad.
CORRECT: She speaks English very badly.

NOTE-I: When BADLY is used like this, its comparative and superlative forms are WORSE and WORST; e.g.

a) He performed worse than in his last exam.
b) Gujrat was the worst affected area in the earthquake.


INCORRECT: He wanted to be with his daughter who was badly ill.
CORRECT: He wanted to be with his daughter who was seriously ill.


HARD is both an adjective and an adverb, whereas HARDLY can only be an adverb. HARDLY is not the adverb form of the adjective HARD. The adverb form of HARD is HARD itself. When HARD is an adverb, it means ‘with a lot of effort’ or ‘heavily or severely’. We use it after the main verb. HARDLY has a negative meaning. It normally means ‘almost not’ or ‘only just’. We put HARDLY before the verb.

i) I studied hard for my exams but could not pass.
ii) The government is coming down hard on rape crime.
iii) There is so much noise in the other room. I can hardly hear what you are saying.
iv) The instructions are printed so small I can hardly read them.

INCORRECT: I tried hardly to find the key.
CORRECT: I tried hard to find the key.

INCORRECT: It was raining hardly and we all got wet.
CORRECT: It was raining hard and we all got wet.

INCORRECT: You must not have beaten him too hardly.
CORRECT: You must not have beaten him too hard.

NOTE-I: As HARDLY is a negative word we don’t use NOT or any other negative words with it; e.g.

INCORRECT: I did not hardly know him.
CORRECT: I hardly knew him.

INCORRECT: There are hardly no mangoes left.
CORRECT: There are hardly any mangoes left.

NOTE-II: If needed, HARDLY takes WHEN, not THAN; e.g.

INCORRECT: The doctor had hardly arrived than the patient died.
CORRECT: The doctor had hardly arrived when the patient died.

NOTE-III:  HARDLY and SCRACELY are the same thing and both are replaceable with each other. Like HARDLY, if needed we also use WHEN with SCARECELY in the next clause.

8. Barely & Rarely

BARELY = almost not; only just; RARELY = almost never; e.g.

i) The fog was so thick that I barely reached my office.
ii) He rarely makes any serious mistakes.

INCORRECT: Although I am a member of the club, I barely go there.
CORRECT: Although I am a member of the club, I rarely go there.

NOTE-I: We must not use NOT with BARELY/RARELY.

INCORRECT: The temperature was not barely above freezing.
CORRECT: The temperature was barely above freezing.

NOTE-II: You use WHEN or BEFORE after barely. Don’t use THAN.

INCORRECT: We had barely started the meal than Ritu arrived.
CORRECT: We had barely started the meal when Ritu arrived.


Both can mean MODERATELY (to an average extent; means not more not less). But FAIRLY is mainly used with FAVOURABLE ADJECTIVES AND ADVERBS such as bravely, good, nice, well etc., while RATHER is mainly used before UNFAVORABLE ADJECTIVES AND ADVERBS such as bad, stupidly, ugly etc.; e.g.

i) Ram is fairly clever, but Mohan is rather stupid.
ii) I walk fairly fast but Reena walks rather slow.

NOTE-I: If required we can use the article A/AN before FAIRLY (not after), whereas we can us A/AN  before as well as after RATHER; e.g.

It’s a rather heavy box.
= It’s rather a heavy box.

INCORRECT: It’s fairly a heavy table.
CORRECT: It’s a fairly heavy table.

NOTE-II: With adjectives/adverbs such as fast, slow, thin, thick, hot, cold etc, which are not either favourable or unfavourable, we can use FAIRLY if we want to express approval, and we can use RATHER if we want to express disapproval.

a) This soup is fairly hot. (means the speaker likes hot soup)
b) This soup is rather hot. (means the speaker does not prefer hot soup)

NOTE-III: We cannot use FAIRLY with comparative degrees of adjective/adverbs; e.g.

INCORRECT: This book is fairly better.
CORRECT: This book is fairly good.

10. Seldom & Rarely

We use IF between SELDOM and EVER, and OR between SELDOM and NEVER. Same is the case with RARELY; e.g.

SELDOM OR NEVER / SELDOM IF EVER = never or almost never

INCORRECT: Seldom if never have I hurt you. OR Seldom or ever have I hurt you.
CORRECT: Seldom or never have I hurt you. OR Seldom if ever have I hurt you.

INCORRECT: It is rarely if never used that way. OR It is rarely or ever used that way.
CORRECT: It is rarely or never used that way. OR It is rarely, if ever, used that way.


11. Beside & Besides

A) BESIDE = next to. It also means ‘compared to’

i) She sat beside me after the class. (वह class ke baad मेरे साथ बैठ गयी.)
ii) These problems seem unimportant beside the potential benefits of the new system. (ये उलझने नए सिस्टम के संभावित फायदों की तुलना में अनावश्यक लग रही हैं.)

B) BESIDES = in addition to something/somebody

i) My brother is also here besides me. (मेरे अतरिक्त मेरा भाई भी यहाँ है.)
ii) She also wants to learn other languages besides English and Hindi. (अंग्रेजी और हिंदी के साथ साथ वह दूसरी भाषाएं भी सीखना चाहती है.)
iii) Besides TVs we also sell computers here.
iv) Besides working as a teacher, he also writes novels.

12. After & Afterwards

A) AFTER as a preposition is always followed by a noun, pronoun or gerund (-ing form); e.g.

i) We ate ice-cream after lunch. (LUNCH is a noun.)
ii) You should not have a meal and bathe immediately after it. (IT is a pronoun.)
iii) After running, I took a rest. (RUNNING is a gerund.)

B) AFTERWARDS is normally used alone or with a clause; e.g.

INCORRECT: We had tea, and after we sat in the garden.
CORRECT: We had tea, and afterwards we sat in the garden.

INCORRECT: We’ll go to the park first and eat after.
CORRECT: We’ll go to the park first and eat afterwards.

13. Alone & Lonely

ALONE = without other people around you; e.g.

My wife has gone to live with her parents for some days, so I’m forced to live alone.

LONELY = sad because you are alone and feel that nobody loves you or cares about you; e.g.

I didn’t know anyone in Mumbai and felt very lonely.

INCORRECT: I was very alone at first but then I made some friends.
CORRECT: I was very lonely at first but then I made some friends.

14. Against & With

A) With verbs and nouns connected with sport and competitions, such as competition, final, game, match, play, semi-final we use AGAINST (not WITH); e.g.

INCORRECT: India competed with Pakistan in the semi-final.
CORRECT: India competed against Pakistan in the semi-final.

INCORRECT: Delhi’s match with Mumbai was cancelled.
CORRECT: Delhi’s match against Mumbai was cancelled.

NOTE: However if it’s not a sport completion we use WITH; e.g.

INCORRECT: All my friends play tennis and sometimes we play against each other in competitions.
CORRECT: All my family play tennis and sometimes we play with each other in competitions.

B) When we don’t use AGAINST

i) To refer to taking action to solve problems we use ABOUT (not AGAINST); e.g.

INCORRECT: There was so much noise in the restaurant that we had to ask waiter to do something against it.
CORRECT: There was so much noise in the restaurant that we had to ask waiter to do something about it.

ii) To make contrasts we use expressions such as CONTRARY TO, IN CONTRAST TO and  COMPARED WITH (not AGAINST); e.g.

INCORRECT: Her opinion is against mine.
CORRECT: Her opinion is contrary to mine.

iii) We don’t use AGAINST to talk about medication; e.g.

INCORRECT: Have you got something against a headache?
CORRECT: Have you got something for a headache?

15. WITH & BY

We use WITH for an instrument, and we use BY for the performer of the action; e.g.

INCORRECT: She cut the banana in two halves by a knife.
CORRECT: She cut the banana in two halves with a knife.

16. LEST

LEST is a conjunction that either takes SHOULD with the verb, or the verb is without s/es even if the subject is third person singular; e.g.

a) He is anxious lest he become ill.
= He is anxious lest he should become ill.

b) She was worrying lest her daughter be attacked.
= She was worrying lest her daughter should be attacked.

INCORRECT: She is using headphones lest she disturbs anyone.
CORRECT: She is using headphones lest she disturb anyone.


For more chapters/topics on English Grammar read the following book authored by me.

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For English Practice Sets on various topics read the following book authored by me.

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Maha Gupta

Maha Gupta

Founder of www.examscomp.com and guiding aspirants on SSC exam affairs since 2010 when objective pattern of exams was introduced first in SSC. Also the author of the following books:

1. Maha English Grammar (for Competitive Exams)
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