ENGLISHTables of Important Words

EXPRESSIONS (PART-3) Neither & Either; Or & Nor; Although & Though, etc.

IMPORTANT WORDS & EXPRESSIONS (PART-3)

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. Neither & Either 5. Across & Through 9. In, At & On 13. Else
2. . Or & Nor 6. In spite of & Despite 10. On time & In time 14. Ability
3. Till/Until & To 7. Although & Though 11. And 15. Back
4. To & Towards 8. Good, Well & Bad, Ill 12. But 16. Bed

1. Neither & Either

NEITHER = not either of two things or people++++++++++
EITHER = any one of two

i) Neither

We use NEITHER or NEITHER OF to make a negative statement about two people or things. There is no difference in meaning. It takes a singular verb. For more than two we use NONE; e.g.

Neither parent went to the club.
= Neither of the parents went to the club.

NOTE: We don’t use BOTH to make a negative statement for two, we use NEITHER OF; e.g.

INCORRECT: Both of these shirts aren’t dry yet.
CORRECT: Neither of these shirts is dry yet.

ii) Either

We use EITHER or ‘EITHER OF’ to make a choice between two possibilities. You use EITHER before a singular countable noun, and EITHER OF before a plural pronoun or before a plural countable noun having an adjective. There is no difference in meaning. It takes a singular verb; e.g.

You can take either watch.
= You can take either of the watches.

They didn’t want either child to know about this.
= They didn’t want either of the children to know about this.

I don’t know either of them.

INCORRECT: I don’t like either pens.
CORRECT: I don’t like either pen. OR I don’t like either of the pens.

NOTE-I: ONE OF & EITHER OF

When we talk about two or more people or things and there is no idea of a choice, we use ONE OF (not EITHER OF); e.g.

INCORRECT: Either of your parents has beaten him.
CORRECT: One of your parents has beaten him.

INCORRECT: Either of their daughters has just had a baby.
CORRECT: One of their daughters has just had a baby.

NOTE-II: EITHER cannot be the subject of a negative verb. However, it can be subject or object of an affirmative or interrogative verb; e.g.

INCORRECT: Either will not serve well.
CORRECT: Neither will serve well.

2. Or & Nor

i) OR

A) When you use OR to join two verbs, both verbs should be in the same form; e.g.

INCORRECT: In the morning we used to go for a morning walk or did exercise at home earlier.
CORRECT: In the morning we used to go for a morning walk or do exercise at home earlier.

(GO is V1, so it will be DO, not DID).

COMPARE
a) We used to go to the cinema or watch the television.
b) We went to the cinema or watched the television.

B) We use OR (not AND), after the negative form of a verb; e.g.

INCORRECT: There were no books, pens and pencils with him.
CORRECT: There were no books, pens or pencils with him.

INCORRECT: I do not like coffee and tea.
CORRECT: I do not like coffee or tea.

COMPARE
a) I like tea and coffee. (I like both tea and coffee.)
b) I don’t like tea or coffee. (I don’t like tea and I don’t like coffee.)

C) For emphasis, we can use EITHER – OR instead of OR; e.g.

Bring me either tea or coffee.
= Bring me tea or coffee.

ii) NOR

A) We use NOR with NEITHER or A NEGATIVE CLAUSE to make a negative statement about two people or things; e.g.

i) Neither Ritu nor Ruchi was there.
ii) The sheets were never washed, nor the towels, nor his shirts.
iii) No one knows his address, nor his phone number.
iv) I can’t make head nor tail of these instructions on the packet.

B) When a verb is negated by NOT or NEVER, and is followed by a negative verb phrase (but not an entire clause), we can use any of OR and NOR; e.g.

He will not permit the change nor even consider it.
= He will not permit the change or even consider it.

C) NOR in replies

We can reply to a negative statement using NOR. We do this to show that what has just been said also applies to another person or thing. We can also use NEITHER in the same way with the same meaning; e.g.

I don’t like him. – Nor does she.
= I don’t like him. – Neither does she.

3. Till/Until & To

TO = We use TO for both time and place; TO can be used of time in ‘FROM — TO’ construction only, otherwise TO is never used of time.

TILL/UNTIL = We use TILL/UNTIL for time only, TILL and UNTIL mean same thing.

INCORRECT: She sleeps to 7 o’clock.
CORRECT: She sleeps till/until 7 0’clock.

INCORRECT: I’ll accompany you till the end of the street.
CORRECT: I’ll accompany you to the end of the street.

4. To & Towards

A) TO is used for destinations
B) TOWARDS is used to show direction

COMPARE
i) Karun is going to the station.
ii) Karun is going towards the station.

[In sentence ‘i’ we mean that Karun will go to the station itself, whereas in sentence ‘ii’ we do not know where Karun is going, the station itself or anywhere else.]

INCORRECT: You can walk towards the bus stand in ten minutes.
CORRECT: You can walk to the bus stand in ten minutes.

INCORRECT: I went towards her and started talking.
CORRECT: I went to her and started talking.

INCORRECT: He leaned to his wife and said, “Can we go home soon?”
CORRECT: He leaned towards his wife and said, “Can we go home soon?”

INCORRECT: The country seems to be drifting to war.
CORRECT: The country seems to be drifting towards war.

NOTE-I: TOWARDS and TOWARD are the same thing, TOWARDS is used in British English, but TOWARD is used in the American English. In exams British English is taken as correct, so we must not use the word TOWARD.

NOTE-II: Some verbs take FOR (not TO) for showing a destination; e.g.

INCORRECT: I’m following to the bus stop.
CORRECT: I’m following for the bus stand.

INCORRECT: This train is to Patna only.
CORRECT: This train is for Patna only.

INCORRECT: They were running to the bus.
CORRECT: They were running for the bus.

NOTE-III: With the verb HEAD we can use either of TOWARDS and FOR; e.g.

They were heading towards the police station.
= They were heading for the police station.

5. Across & Through

ACROSS is used for the following two meanings:

A) from one side to the other side of something which has sides or limits such as a city, road or river
B) opposite side of something

THROUGH is used for movements from one side to another while surrounded by something; e.g.

i) Can you swim across this river? (means from one side to the another)
ii) See those birds flying across the sky. (means from one side to the another)
iii) Across the house, I can see some old friends. (means opposite side of the house)
iv) She is waiting for me across the road. (means opposite side of the room)
v) The teacher drew a diagram showing how the blood flows through the heart.

INCORRECT: We walked across a number of villages yesterday.
CORRECT: We walked through a number of villages yesterday. (Of course the path on which we walked was surrounded by villages.)

INCORRECT: While going to Shimla our train passed across some tunnels.
CORRECT: While going to Shimla our train passed through some tunnels. (A tunnel is always surrounded by walls, etc.)

NOTE-I: When we move from one side to another ‘in something’ such as long grass or a forest, we use THROUGH (not ACROSS); e.g.

INCORRECT: I love walking across the forest.
CORRECT: I love walking through the forest.

NOTE-II: ACROSS/ON
When we talk about something extending or moving from one side to another, we use ACROSS, not ON.

INCORRECT: The papers were spread on the table.
CORRECT: The papers were spread across the table.

6. In spite of & Despite

IN SPITE OF and DESPITE are exactly equal in use. DESPITE does not take OF; neither is it preceded by IN. In spite of = Despite = Although

The construction is:

In Spite Of/Despite + Noun/Pronoun
OR
In Spite Of/Despite + Gerund (ing form)

IN SPITE OF my sickness I went to the office. (noun construction)
= DESPITE my sickness I went to the office.

IN SPITE OF being sick I went to the office. (gerund construction)
= DESPITE being sick I went to the office.

NOTE: IN SPITE OF/DESPITE are never followed by a clause; e.g.

INCORRECT: In spite of/Despite she fell midway through the race, she won.
CORRECT: In spite of/Despite falling midway through the race she won.

However, we can use a clause if IN SPITE OF/DESPITE are followed by THE FACT THAT; e.g.

IN SPITE OF/DESPITE the fact that she fell midway through the race, she won.

7. Although & Though

Both ALTHOUGH and THOUGH mean ‘in spite of something. Both are the same thing, and are replaceable with each other. For emphasis, we often use EVEN with THOUGH (but we can’t use EVEN with ALTHOUGH); e.g.

The match was beautiful although we lost it.
= The match was beautiful though we lost it.

INCORRECT: Even although she is very busy, she still found time to help me.
CORRECT: Even though she is very busy, she still found time to help me.

NOTE-I: When a sentence begins with ALTHOUGH or THOUGH, we don’t use BUT or YET before the main clause, we usually put a comma rather; e.g.

INCORRECT: Although he was late, yet he stopped to buy fruit.
CORRECT: Although he was late, he stopped to buy fruit.

NOTE-II: Don’t use ALTHOUGH or THOUGH in front of a noun phrase, you use IN SPITE OF or DESPITE instead in such a case; e.g.

INCORRECT: Although his hard work, he failed his exam.
CORRECT: In spite of his hard work, he failed his exam.

NOTE-III: THOUGH sometimes is an adverb. You use it when you are making a statement that contrasts with what you have just said. You usually put THOUGH after the first phrase in the sentence. ALTHOUGH is never used an adverb; e.g.

INCORRECT: Very nice although, this dress is too expensive.
CORRECT: Very nice though, this dress is too expensive.

8. ‘Good & Well’; ‘Bad & Ill’

Degrees of comparison

Good Better Best
Well Better Best
Bad Worse Worst
Ill Worse worst

i) Good & Well

GOOD is an adjective but WELL is both an adjective and adverb.

A) We use GOOD for people/things to say that they are very satisfactory, enjoyable,  pleasant, interesting, morally right, kind, helpful, able to do well or successful, whereas we use WELL as an adjective to tell one’s health condition; e.g.

i) Climate of this place is really good.
ii) My wife is very good with children
iii) He is not very well today.
iv) When she came home from school she really didn’t look well.

B)  WELL can be used as an adverb also. We use WELL to say that something is done to a high standard or to a great extent. We can’t use GOOD as an adverb; e.g.

INCORRECT: He speaks English good.
CORRECT: He speaks English well.

C) GOOD = large

Used to emphasize the large number, amount, or level of something; e.g.

i) I’ve run a good distance today.
ii) There is a good-sized crowd waiting for the minister.

ii) Bad & Ill

BAD is an adjective but ILL is both an adjective and adverb.

A) We use BAD for people/things to say that they are unpleasant and causing difficulties or harm, of low quality, not acceptable, whereas we use ILL as an adjective to tell one’s health condition. ILL (=sick) is usually used after a verb, before a noun use SICK; e.g.

i) I could not leave home because of bad weather.
ii) My father had a very bad night last night. (= did not sleep well)
iii) He’s been ill with dengue.
iv) My father is a very sick man.

INCORRECT: She is well trained to look after ill children.
CORRECT: She is well trained to look after sick children.

NOTE-I: Normally we don’t use ILL before a noun, but we can do so when we are also using an adverb such as seriously, chronically, or terminally; e.g. That ward is for chronically ill patients.

NOTE-II: We don’t use ILL or SICK to say that someone has received an injury. Say that they are injured or hurt; e.g.

INCORRECT: He was ill and taken to hospital after the accident.
CORRECT: He was injured and taken to hospital after the accident.

B) ILL can be used as an adverb also. ILL as an adverb means BADLY, IMPERFECTLY, UNFAVOURABLY; e.g.

i) He treated me really ill.
ii) They were ill provided with weapons. (here ILL = insufficiently)

9. IN, AT & ON (for places)

i) In & At

A) We use IN when we see a place as an area; we use AT when we see a place as a point.

i) I arrived AT New Delhi Station at 7.30. (place as a point)
ii) I’ll wait AT the far end of the room.
iii) We stayed IN Mumbai for five days. (here the city Mumbai means an area)
iv) My train stopped AT Mumbai on the way to Delhi. (place as a point; Mumbai = Mumbai Railway Station)
v) How long are you going to live IN this village? (place as an area)

NOTE: We use AT to talk about an event where there is a group of people and places we see them as a place of activity; e.g.

a) We last met AT the conference IN Delhi. (CONFERENCE = an event where there is a group of people. DELHI = a place as an area)
b) She always did well at school.
c) Buy me some biscuits AT baker’s. (BAKER’S means a shop that a baker runs.)

INCORRECT:  Did you see Sarla in the party?
CORRECT: Did you see Sarla AT the party?

INCORRECT:  There weren’t many people in the meeting.
CORRECT: There weren’t many people AT the meeting.

B) Workplaces when we see them as a physical location, we use IN (not AT). But if the workplace is a farm we use ON (not IN); e.g.

INCORRECT:  I work at a factory.
CORRECT: I work in a factory.

INCORRECT:  We sell garments at our shop.
CORRECT: We sell garments in our shop.

INCORRECT:  I want to work in a farm.
CORRECT: I want to work on a farm.

C) Before the names of streets we use IN and before a house-number we use AT; e.g.

i) He lives in Jawahar Street.
ii) He lives AT 45 Jawahar Street.

ii) On

A) For a position touching a surface; things we think of as a line such as a road, a river; sea or lake we use ON; e.g.

i) Put your bag on the floor. (position touching a surface)
ii) I have my house on a river. (river thought as a line)
iii) The train is going to arrive on platform two. (platform thought as a line)

B) When we talk about a floor in a building we use ON; e.g.

INCORRECT: She lives at the 3rd floor.
CORRECT: She lives on the 3rd floor.

10. On Time & In Time

i) On Time

ON TIME = at a fixed/planned time established (not before, not after); e.g.

i) My train is on time, so I’ll have to leave just now.
ii) The train arrived at 5.25 – exactly on time.

ii) In Time

IN TIME = not late; doing something ‘in time’ means doing it before a deadline; e.g.

i) I could not get admission because I didn’t submit my application in time.
ii) Make sure you arrive in time to see the beginning of the film.

INCORRECT: I had to rush to reach school in time.
CORRECT: I had to rush to reach school on time.

NOTE-I: If we want to convey that something happened with a comfortable margin (means well before of an event) we use ‘IN GOOD TIME’ or ‘IN PLENTY OF TIME’; e.g.

I reached the cinema hall in good time.

NOTE-II: We say ‘JUST IN TIME’ or ‘IN THE NICK OF TIME’ to emphasize that something happened immediately before the limit/deadline; e.g.

i) I could leave home a little late and arrived just in time to catch my bus.
ii) In movies, a bomb is disarmed in the nick of time, with just a few seconds left to explode.

NOTE-III: We do not use the word TIME after NOT LONG or NOT BE LONG; e.g.

INCORRECT: The dinner won’t take long time, it’ll be ready just in five minutes.
CORRECT: The dinner won’t take long, it’ll be ready just in five minutes.

11. And

A) Do not use AND between two adjectives that come before a noun unless they describe similar qualities, e.g.

i) a red and green umbrella (two colours, means similar qualities)
ii) a gold and silver bracelet (two materials, means similar qualities)
iii) a hunting and fishing knife (two functions, means similar qualities)

INCORRECT: There is a beautiful and old temple in our colony.
CORRECT: There is a beautiful old temple in our colony.

(BEAUTIFUL and OLD are not similar qualities)

B) Do not use AND after MANY, means you should say ‘many + adjective + noun (without AND)’; e.g.

INCORRECT: I had never seen so many and bright stars in the sky.
CORRECT: I had never seen so many bright stars in the sky.

12. But

A) We use BUT to link contrasting items which are the same grammatical type.

i) I have bought a new car but I still haven’t sold the older one. (joining two clauses)
ii) The hotel was inexpensive but very comfortable. (joining two adjectives)
iii) Quickly but silently he ran out of the house. (joining two adverbs)

NOTE-I: We can’t use HOWEVER as a conjunction instead of BUT to connect words and phrases; e.g.

INCORRECT: This dress is expensive however beautiful.
CORRECT: This dress is expensive but beautiful.

NOTE-II: BUT & HOWEVER

We can also use HOWEVER in the meaning of BUT i.e. when you are adding a comment that contrast with what has just been said, but HOWEVER can’t be used as a conjunction when used like this. It then generally starts a new sentence or clause; e.g.

Some of the food crops failed. However, the cotton did quite well.

INCORRECT: Ravi always cooks dinner, however I usually wash up afterwards.
CORRECT: Ravi always cooks dinner. However, I usually wash up afterwards. (or Ravi always cooks dinner but I usually wash up afterwards.)

NOTE-III: We use objective pronouns (me, you, him, us, etc.) after BUT even in subject position; e.g.

a) Everybody but me has finished work.
b) No one but him would get a job like that.

B) But For

BUT FOR = Were it not for. BUT FOR is used to introduce the reason why something didn’t happen; e.g.

i) But for the traffic, I would have reached half an hour early. (The traffic was very heavy – if it was normal, I’d have reached here half an hour early.)
ii) I would have reached here on time but for the weather. (means I could not reach on time because of the weather)

C) All But

ALL BUT = almost completely; I had all but finished the letter when the computer crashed and I lost it all.

13. ELSE

 ELSE = other; different; extra

A) We use ELSE after the following words to mean other, another, different or additional:

Anyone Anywhere Everything Nobody Someone Somewhere What
Anybody Everyone Everywhere Nothing Somebody How Where
Anything Everybody No one Nowhere Something Who Why

i) Is there anything else with you?
ii) No seat is vacant here. Let’s go somewhere else.
iii) I had nothing else to do.
iv) What else do you need apart from new shoes?

NOTE-I: We don’t use ELSE after WHICH; e.g.

INCORRECT: Which else do you want apart from this red shirt?
CORRECT: Which other one do you want apart from this blue shirt?

B) Or Else
OR ELSE is a conjunction with a similar meaning to OR; e.g.

I’ll have to leave now, or else I’ll miss my train.

NOTE: Sometimes OR is dropped from OR ELSE, and we use only ELSE; e.g. My brother is poor,  and I want to look as much like him as I can, else he may feel distant from me

C) Preposition with ELSE
If needed we use prepositions such as BUT, EXCEPT, and BESIDES with ELSE (not THAN); e.g.

No  one else but Reema saw the accident.

INCORRECT: I have nobody else with me to play than Kanchan.
CORRECT: I have nobody else with me to play but Kanchan.

D) Possessive Pronouns with ELSE
When a possessive pronoun is needed with ELSE, the possessive form is generally written by putting ( ‘s ) with ELSE; e. g.

INCORRECT: That must be someone’s else book.
CORRECT: O  That must be someone else’s book.         P

NOTE: We do not use WHOSE ELSE’S, instead we say WHO ELSE’S or WHOSE ELSE; e.g.

INCORRECT: Whose else’s book could it have been?
CORRECT: Who else’s book could it have been? OR Whose else book could it have been?

14. Ability

We say ‘ABILITY TO DO SOMETHING’ (not OF DOING); e.g.

i) Nobody doubts his ability to get the project finished in time.
ii) Your ability to work under pressure is great.

INCORRECT: These machines are destroying our ability of thinking.
CORRECT: These machines are destroying our ability to think.

NOTE-I: We say ABILITY IN A LANGUAGE/SUBJECT (not OF A LANGUAGE/SUBJECT); e.g.

Ruchika has demonstrated considerable ability in Mathematics.

INCORRET: I want to improve my ability in English.

NOTE-II: We say reading/writing/teaching/acting ability (not OF READING, ETC.); e.g. Her acting ability was recognized at a very early age.

INCORRECT: I want to improve my ability of reading.
CORRECT: I want to improve my reading ability.

15. Back

We do not say BACK SIDE, we say BACK; e.g.

INCORRECT: Paste your time table on the back side of the door of your room.
CORRECT: Paste your time table on the back of the door of your room.

INCORRECT: Sign on the back side of the prescription form.
CORRECT: Sign on the back of the prescription form.

16. Bed

A) GET UP = to get out of bed and start your day. So we don’t use the word BED with GET UP; e.g.

INCORRECT: Every morning I have to get up from my bed very early.
CORRECT: Every morning I have to get up very early.

B) We use the following expressions without an adjective (my, his, the, etc):

Stay in bed Go to bed Get out of bed Lie in bed Be in bed

INCORRECT: I decided to stay in my bed this morning.
CORRECT: I decided to stay in bed this morning.

INCORRECT: I never go to my bed before 11 p.m.
CORRECT: I never go to bed before 11 p.m.

COMPARE
“Who’s been sleeping in my bed?” asked my father.

[ Here MY before BED is correct as here the verb is SLEEP, not anyone of the one said above.]

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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:

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