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    Default Common Mistakes (aLL part)

    Common Errors in the Use of Tenses

    Present continuous and present perfect continuous

    Incorrect: I am working for the last two hours.

    Correct: I have been working for the last two hours.

    Incorrect: He is working in this office for three years now.

    Correct: He has been working in this office for three years now.

    Incorrect: She is working since morning.

    Correct: She has been working since morning.

    Here the error lies in using the present continuous instead of the present perfect continuous. The present continuous tense is used to talk about an action that is going on at the time of speaking. Here the emphasis is simply on the continuity of the action. The present perfect continuous is used to talk about an action which started in the past, has gone on till the present and is still continuing. In the sentence I have been working for two hours, I started working two hours ago, worked without stopping for two hours and am still working. The present perfect continuous tense is used to show emphasis on the duration and continuity. The adverbs since and for are very common in these sentences.

    Present perfect and simple past

    Incorrect: I have written to him yesterday.

    Correct: I wrote to him yesterday.

    Incorrect: We have visited them last week.

    Correct: We visited them last week.

    Incorrect: He has died two years ago.

    Correct: He died two years ago.

    Here the error lies in using the present perfect instead of simple past.

    The present perfect tense is a present tense. You cannot use an adverb of past time with a present tense. If you have to mention a point of past time, use the simple past.

    I saw him last week. (NOT I have seen him last week.)

    Present tense and future tense

    Incorrect: I shall call you when the dinner will be ready.

    Correct: I shall call you when the dinner is ready.

    Incorrect: They will come if you will invite them.

    Correct: They will come if you invite them.

    When the verb in the main clause is in the future tense, the verb in the subordinate clause should be in the present and not in the future.

    Simple past and past perfect

    Incorrect: I had been to Bombay recently.

    Correct: I went to Bombay recently.

    Incorrect: I had spoken to him last night.

    Correct: I spoke to him last night.

    Here the error lies in using the past perfect tense instead of the simple past tense. The past perfect tense indicates that an action completed at some point in the past before another past action commenced.

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    Common Errors in the Use of Prepositions

    Knowing how to use prepositions correctly shows your mastery of the language. This post is about the common errors in the use of prepositions.

    Since and For

    Since means ‘from a point of time in the past’. It should be used with the present perfect tense.

    He has been ill since last week. (He fell ill two weeks ago and has been ill ever since. He is still ill.)

    It has been raining continuously since yesterday morning. (It is still raining.)

    Don’t use the simple present or present continuous tense with since. It is wrong to say ‘He is ill since last week’ or ‘It is raining since yesterday morning’.

    For is used to refer to a period of time. It shows duration.

    He has been ill for two weeks.

    It has been raining for two days.

    She has been sleeping for 10 hours.

    Many ESL students commit the mistake of using since when referring to a period of time.

    He has been working for two hours. OR He has been working since 11 am. (NOT He has been working since two hours.)

    We have been living here for ten years. OR we have been living here since 1999. (NOT We have been living here since ten years.)

    Beside and Besides

    ESL students often get confused about the meaning and use of these two words. Note that beside means ‘by the side of’ and besides means ‘in addition to’.

    She sat beside him. (= She sat by his side.)

    Besides being a good writer, he is an excellent orator. (In addition to being a good writer, he is an excellent orator.)

    Between and Among

    Between is used when the reference is to two people or things.

    She stood between Alice and Peter.

    You have to choose between these two options.

    Among is used when the reference is to more than two people or things.

    The British were able to conquer India because Indian princes quarreled among themselves.

    She sat among the children.

    By and With

    Use by when you want to refer to the doer of an action. Use with when you want to refer to the instrument with which the action was performed.

    The spider was killed by John. (John is the doer. He killed the spider.)

    The spider was killed with a stone. (Stone is the instrument with which the spider was killed.)

    The spider was killed by John with a stone.

    On, In and At

    Use At with clock times.

    I will meet you at 4 pm.

    We had a party at 11 am.

    Use on with days of the week and dates.

    We met on a Monday.

    The meeting is on the 21st of this month.

    Use in with morning, evening, afternoon, years, months and seasons.

    She was born in October.

    The postman brought this letter in the morning.

    We visited Kashmir in the summer.

    We bought this house in 2002.

    Note that we use at with night.

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    Common Errors in the Use of Pronouns

    Rule 1

    A personal pronoun is used instead of a noun, so it must be of the same number, gender and person as the noun it stands for.
    All of them were supposed to bring their tickets.
    John lost his ticket.
    Mary left her ticket at home.
    We had had our dinner.

    Rule 2

    A pronoun used to represent two singular nouns joined by and should be plural in number. Note that the pronoun should be singular if the two nouns are preceded by each or every.

    Tom and Sam have finished their work.
    Each man and each boy has to be ready to defend his country.

    When a singular noun and a plural noun are joined by or or nor, the pronoun used for them must be plural.

    Neither the officer nor his assistants did their duty.

    Rule 3

    When you have to put pronouns of different persons together, put them in this order of precedence: second person, third person and first person.

    John and I went on a picnic. (NOT I and John …)
    You and John can leave now. (NOT John and you …)
    You and George and I can do this together. (NOT I and George and you …)

    Rule 4

    A pronoun following a preposition should be in its object form (e.g. me, us, them etc.)

    Between you and me, I don’t trust him. (NOT Between you and I …)

    Rule 5

    Than is a conjunction joining two clauses. The pronoun following than should be in the same case as the pronoun preceding it.

    She is taller than he (is). (NOT She is taller than him.)
    I know you better than he (knows you). (NOT I know you better than him.)

    Note that this rule is no longer strictly followed and even educated native speakers use object forms after than.

    He is cleverer than her. (OR He is cleverer than she (is).)
    He is five years older than me. (OR He is five years older than I (am).)

    Rule 6

    When but is used as a preposition, it means except. The pronoun following the preposition but must be in the object form:

    Everybody came but him. (=Everybody came except him.)
    None but me could solve the problem. (=None except me could solve the problem.)

    Notes:
    A pronoun can be used in three cases: nominative case, objective case and possessive case.

    Pronouns in the nominative case (e.g. he, she, they, we, you, I and it) are used as subjects. Pronouns in the objective case (e.g. him, her, them, us, you, me and it) are used as objects. Pronouns in the possessive case (e.g. his, her, hers, their, theirs, our, ours, my, mine and its) are used to show possession.

    I have seen him.
    He has invited me.
    They have arrived.
    We have visited them.
    My house is bigger than your house.
    His dog is smarter than your dog.
    I have lost my pen. Could you lend me yours?

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    Common Errors in the Use of Conjunctions

    As and Like

    As is a conjunction. It is used to connect two clauses or words of the same grammatical class. Like is a preposition. It is used to show the relationship between a noun/pronoun and some other word in the sentence. Note that like is used before a noun or pronoun.

    She looks like her mother.
    He fought like a tiger.
    Like his father, he is a doctor.
    He did as he was told. BUT NOT He did like he was told. (Here the conjunction as joins the clauses ‘He did’ and ‘he was told’.)
    He fought as a tiger does. BUT NOT He fought like a tiger does. (Here the conjunction as joins the clauses ‘he fought’ and ‘a tiger does’.)

    Notes:

    In informal English like is often used as a conjunction instead of as. This is very common in American English. So sentences like ‘He fought like a tiger does’ are common in colloquial English.

    As and though

    As can be used in the sense of though, but they are used in different structures.

    Though he was young, he fought bravely.
    Young as he was, he fought bravely.
    Though he is poor, he is happy.
    Poor as he is, he is happy.

    As if and as though

    As if and as though are now more or less used synonymously.

    It looks as if it might rain. OR It looks as though it might rain.
    I felt as if I was dying. OR I felt as though I was dying.

    Like cannot be used instead of as if/as though. It is wrong to say ‘I felt like I was dying’.

    Notes:
    In informal English like is often used instead of as if and as though. This is very common in American English.

    So as and such as

    So as indicates purpose; such as indicates result.

    We started early so as to get a good seat.
    His actions were such as to offend everyone.

    Than

    Than is a subordinating conjunction. The noun or pronoun following than should be in the same case as the noun or pronoun preceding it.

    She is taller than he is.
    You are younger than she is.

    Note that in informal English, object pronouns (him, her, them etc.) are used after than. So sentences like ‘She is taller than him’ and ‘You are younger than her’ are common in informal speech and writing.

    Unless and if

    Unless itself means if not. You don’t have to use another not in clauses with unless.

    Unless you start early, you will miss the train. OR If you don’t start early, you will miss the train. (NOT Unless you don’t start early, you will miss the train.)

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    Comparison of Adjectives: Common Errors

    Adjectives that do not have comparative forms

    Most adjectives have three forms: the positive, the comparative and the superlative. There are, nevertheless, some adjectives that do not admit any comparison because their meaning is already superlative. Examples are: perfect, round, universal, unique, extreme, square etc. Nothing can be more perfect, more round or more unique.

    The following sentence is therefore incorrect in standard English.

    Incorrect: This is the most perfect specimen I have ever seen.
    Correct: This is the perfect specimen I have seen.

    Comparison using comparative adjectives

    When a comparison is made using comparative adjectives followed by than, the thing that is compared must be excluded from the thing or group of things with which it is compared.

    Read the sentence given below:

    Alice is cleverer than any other girl in the class.

    Here the use of the word other is very important. Consider the sentence without other:

    Alice is cleverer than any girl in the class.

    In the term ‘any girl’ Alice is also included. So the sentence would mean that Alice is cleverer than Alice. (!?)

    More examples are given below.

    Gold is more precious than any other metal. (NOT Gold is more precious than any metal.)
    Iron is more useful than any other metal. (NOT Iron is more useful than any metal.)

    Comparison using superlative adjectives

    When a comparison is made using superlative adjectives, the thing that is compared must be included in the group of things with which it is compared.

    Gold is the most precious of all metals. OR Gold is the most precious metal.
    Alice is the cleverest of all girls in the class. OR Alice is the cleverest girl in the class.

    Double comparatives and superlatives

    Avoid the use of double comparatives and double superlatives.

    Incorrect: Solomon was the most wisest person on earth.
    Correct: Solomon was the wisest person on earth.
    Incorrect: He is more cleverer than his brother.
    Correct: He is cleverer than his brother.

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    Comparison of Adjectives: Common Errors – Part II

    Comparison can be made using several different structures. Note that the second part of the comparison must have the same grammatical structure as the first part.

    Study the example given below.

    The population of Mumbai is greater than any city in Europe.

    In the sentence given above comparison is made between ‘population’ and ‘city’ whereas it should have been between ‘population’ and ‘population’.

    To balance the construction we must say:

    The population of Mumbai is greater than the population of any city in Europe.

    Superlatives without the

    The superlative adjective most is sometimes used before an adjective without the. This happens when no comparison is made.

    He delivered a most impressive speech.
    We had a most enjoyable time.

    Comparison between two people or things

    To make a comparison between two people or things, we do not normally use the superlative adjective.

    Take the shorter of the two routes. (More correct than Take the shortest of the two routes.)
    He is the smarter of the two brothers. (More correct than He is the smartest of the two brothers.)
    Of the two plans this is the better. (More correct than of the two plans this is the best.)

    Prepositions after superlatives

    After superlatives, we do not normally use of with singular nouns.

    She is the most beautiful woman in the world. (NOT She is the most beautiful woman of the world.)
    He is the fastest man on earth. (NOT He is the fastest man of the earth.)

    But note that of can be used before plural nouns.

    She is the most beautiful woman of them all.

    Elder and older

    Note that we do not use older to talk about the members of the same family.

    He is my elder brother. (NOT He is my older brother.)

    We do not use than after elder.

    He is older than me. (NOT He is elder than me.)
    He is the oldest man in the village. (NOT He is the eldest man in the village.)

    Older and oldest can be used to talk about people and things.

    This fort is older than that fort. (NOT This fort is elder than that fort.)

    Singular noun after any other

    When a comparison is made with a comparative adjective we use a structure with any other. Note that the noun that comes after any other should be singular in number.

    Shakespeare is greater than any other poet. (NOT Shakespeare is greater than any other poets.)

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    Common Errors with Nouns and Noun Phrases

    Incorrect: Kashmir is known for its sceneries.
    Correct: Kashmir is known for its scenery.
    Incorrect: We have bought some furnitures.
    Correct: We have bought some furniture.
    Incorrect: Have you received any informations?
    Correct: Have you received any information?
    Incorrect: We must buy some breads.
    Correct: We must buy some bread. OR We must buy some loaves.
    Incorrect: Have you packed your luggages?
    Correct: Have you packed your luggage?
    Incorrect: Could you give me some advices?
    Correct: Could you give me some advice?

    Reason

    Some nouns have only a singular form. Examples are: furniture, wheat, happiness, gratitude, abuse, information, clothing, gossip, poetry, scenery, advice and news.

    Incorrect: He wore a white trouser.
    Correct: He wore white trousers.
    Incorrect: We must buy a binocular.
    Correct: We must buy a pair of binoculars.

    Reason

    Some nouns have only a plural form. Examples are: police, cattle, oats, tweezers, pants, remains, scissors, binoculars, shorts, trousers, drawers and socks. It is wrong to say a pant or a trouser.

    Incorrect: The rich should help the poors.
    Correct: The rich should help the poor.
    Incorrect: He provided the blinds with food and clothes.
    Correct: He provided the blind with food and clothes.
    Incorrect: The unemployed is losing hope.
    Correct: The unemployed are losing hope.

    Reason

    The phrases the blind, the rich, the poor, the employed, the dead etc. are always plural and should be followed by plural verbs. It is therefore wrong to say the blinds or the poors.

    Man and Gentleman

    Incorrect: I met a tall gentleman.
    Correct: I met a tall man.

    Reason

    ‘I met a tall gentleman’ is of course correct English. But gentleman is a difficult word to use correctly in standard English. Students are therefore advised to use gentleman only when they are referring to a man’s character. Say ‘He is a gentleman’ if you want to praise his character. Say ‘He is not a gentleman’ if you want to criticize his character. To denote an adult of the male sex, simply use ‘man’.

    Woman, female and lady

    Incorrect: I saw two females.
    Correct: I saw two women.

    Reason

    We don’t say I saw a male. Similarly we don’t say I saw a female.

    Incorrect: I saw a beautiful lady.
    Correct: I saw a beautiful woman.

    Reason

    ‘I saw a beautiful lady’ is of course correct English. But woman is the usual word to denote an adult of the female sex. Say ‘She is a lady’ when you mean that she is a woman of particularly good birth and taste.

    Cousin

    Incorrect: He is my cousin brother.
    Correct: He is my cousin.

    Cousin means any child of any uncle or aunt. Phrases like cousin brother and cousin sister are wrong in standard English.

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    Correct Use of Some Adjectives – Part I

    Some and any

    Both some and any can be used to talk about degree or quantity. Some is used in affirmative clauses; any is used in negative and interrogative clauses.

    I need some bloating paper.
    Have you got any bloating paper?
    No, I don’t have any bloating paper.
    I need some razors.
    Have you got any razors?
    No, I haven’t got any razors.

    Note that some can be used in questions expressing commands or requests.

    Will you get me some milk?

    Each and every

    Each is used to talk about two or more people or things. Every is used to talk about more than two people or things. Each is preferred when the group consists of a definite number of people or things. Every is preferred when the group consists of an indefinite number of people or things.

    Last week it rained each day. (The number of days in a week is limited.)
    Every player did his best for the team. (Indefinite number of players)

    Every can be used with abstract nouns. Each cannot be used with abstract nouns.

    He has every chance of success. (NOT He has each chance of success.)

    Every can be used with numbers. Each cannot be used with numbers.

    Trains leave every 15 minutes.

    Either and Neither

    Either means one or the other of two. Neither means not one nor the other of two. Note that neither means not either.

    I don’t like either of them. = I like neither of them.

    Either can also mean each of the two.

    There were trees on either side of the road.

    Either and any

    Use either to talk about two people or things. Use any to talk about more than two people or things.

    You may take either of the two books.
    You may take any of the three books. (NOT You may take either of the three books.)

    Neither and none

    Use neither to talk about two people or things. Use none to talk about more than two people or things.

    You can have neither of the two prizes.
    You can have none of the three prizes.

    Nearest and next

    Nearest denotes distance or space. Next denotes position. Next can also mean immediately following.

    Can you tell me where the nearest hospital is?
    When I returned my next patient was waiting.
    Our next meeting is on May 2nd.

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    Correct Use of Some Adjectives – Part II

    Elder and older, Eldest and oldest

    Elder is used to talk about people. Older can be used to talk about both people and things. Elder is usually used in speaking of members of the same family. Older is not used with this meaning.

    She is my elder sister. (NOT She is my older sister.)
    My eldest brother is a doctor.

    Note that than is not used after elder.

    He is older than me. (NOT He is elder than me.)

    This building is older than that building. (NOT This building is elder than that building.)

    Later, latter, latest, last

    Later and latest refer to time; latter and last denote position.

    We can discuss this matter later.
    She arrived later than him.

    Latest means newest.

    What is the latest news?

    Latter means second of two.

    She spent the latter part of the day relaxing by the pool.

    He got to the meeting last.

    A little, little, the little

    A little means some; little means hardly any; the little means not much but all of that much. Note that a little, little and the little are used with uncountable nouns.

    There is a little food left. (some)
    There is little water in the bottle. (There is hardly any water left in the bottle.)
    He drank the little water left in the bottle. (There was not much water left in the bottle, but he drank the whole of that.)

    A few, few and the few

    A few, few and the few are used with countable nouns. A few means some; few means hardly any; the few means not many, but all of them.

    I have a few friends. (=I have some friends.)
    I have few friends. (=I have hardly any friends.)
    I lost the few friends I had. (I didn’t have a lot of friends, but I lost all of them.)

    Each other and one another

    Each other is usually used to talk about two people or things. One another is used to talk about more than two people or things.

    The two brothers love and respect each other.
    We must love one another.

    Note that this grammatical rule is no longer strictly followed. Even educated native speakers now use each other to talk about more than two people or things.

    Much and many

    Much is used with uncountable nouns; many is used with countable nouns.

    I have many friends.
    There isn’t much food left.

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    Common Errors in the Use of Verbs – Part I

    Incorrect: He told her that he will come.
    Correct: He told her that he would come.

    Reason
    When the principal verb is in the past tense the verb in the subordinate clause should also be in the past tense. When the principal verb is in the present tense, the verb in the subordinate clause can be in any tense.

    Incorrect: He told me that honesty was the best policy.
    Correct: He told me that honesty is the best policy.
    Incorrect: Teacher said that the earth revolved around the sun.
    Correct: Teacher said that the earth revolves around the sun.

    Reason
    To talk about general truths, we always use the present tense.

    Incorrect: The cashier-***-accountant have come.
    Correct: The cashier-***-accountant has come.

    Reason
    Here the nouns cashier and accountant refer to the same person, so we use a singular verb.

    Incorrect: The manager and the accountant has come.
    Correct: The manager and the accountant have come.

    Reason
    Two nouns connected by and are followed by a plural verb.

    Incorrect: I am so weak that I may not walk.
    Correct: I am so weak that I cannot walk.

    Reason
    To talk about ability we use can, not may.

    Incorrect: Tell me why are you abusing him.
    Correct: Tell me why you are abusing him.
    Incorrect: I wonder why don’t you listen to me.
    Correct: I wonder why you don’t listen to me.

    Reason
    In indirect questions we put the auxiliary verb after the noun. Note that we do not use question mark in indirect questions.

    Incorrect: Alice as well as her sisters are beautiful.
    Correct: Alice as well as her sisters is beautiful.

    Reason
    When the noun that precedes as well as is in the singular, the verb should also be in the singular.

    Incorrect: I am ill for two weeks.
    Correct: I have been ill for two weeks.
    Incorrect: I am waiting since morning.
    Correct: I have been waiting since morning.

    Reason
    We use perfect continuous tenses with the prepositions since and for. Here the error lies in using the present continuous instead of the present perfect continuous.

    Incorrect: The ship drowned.
    Correct: The ship sank.
    Incorrect: The passengers aboard the ship sank.
    Correct: The passengers aboard the ship were drowned.

    Reason
    We use drown with people and other animate objects. We use sink with inanimate objects like ship and boat.

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    Common Errors in the Use of Verbs – Part II

    Incorrect: He has stole my pen.
    Correct: He has stolen my pen.
    Incorrect: John has often beat me at tennis.
    Correct: John has often beaten me at tennis.

    Reason
    After the auxiliaries has, have and had, we use the past participle form of the verb.

    Incorrect: They didn’t invited us.
    Correct: They didn’t invite us.
    Incorrect: He did came.
    Correct: He did come.

    Reason
    After did, we use the present tense form (bare infinitive) of the verb.

    Incorrect: Neither he came nor he wrote.
    Correct: Neither did he come nor did he write.
    Incorrect: Seldom I go to the hills.
    Correct: Seldom do I go to the hills.

    The adverbs neither and seldom have negative meanings. When sentences begin with a negative word we use the inverted word order with do/did.

    Incorrect: Never I have seen such a mess.
    Correct: Never have I seen such a mess.

    Reason
    When sentences begin with a negative word, we use the inverted word order. When there is an auxiliary verb in the sentence, we put that auxiliary verb before the noun (subject). When there is no auxiliary verb, we put do/did before the subject.

    Incorrect: He said that he saw him last year.
    Correct: He said that he had seen him last year.

    Reason

    Here the error lies in the failure to use the past perfect tense when the time of one past tense verb is more past than that of another.

    Incorrect: If I shall do this, I shall be wrong.
    Correct: If I do this, I shall be wrong.
    Incorrect: If I did this, I shall be wrong.
    Correct: If I do this, I shall be wrong.

    Reason

    When the main clause is in the future tense, the subordinate clause should be in the present tense.

    Incorrect: He had to leave his rights.
    Correct: He had to abandon (or relinquish) his rights.

    Reason

    We ‘leave a place’ or ‘leave something at some place’ or ‘leave someone to do something’. We do not ‘leave our rights’ or something like that.

    Incorrect: I take my food.
    Correct: I have my food.

    Reason
    ‘Take my food’ is not wrong, but English people do not normally use this expression.

    Incorrect: I take your leave.
    Correct: I must leave now. OR I must say goodbye.

    Reason
    I take your leave is not wrong, but is extremely formal.

    Incorrect: They cut Charles I’s head.
    Correct: They cut off Charles I’s head.

    Reason
    When the cutting divides what is cut into pieces, use cut off, cut up or cut into.

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    Common Errors with Prepositions

    Incorrect: He is ill since last week.
    Correct: He has been ill since last week.
    Incorrect: He has been working since two hours.
    Correct: He has been working for two hours.
    Incorrect: I have not played cricket since a long time.
    Correct: I have not played cricket for a long time.

    Explanation

    When reckoning from a particular date we use ‘since’. Examples are since last Friday, since May, since morning, since July 8th. But note that we always use ‘for’ for a period. Examples are: for a week, for a long time, for two hours etc.

    Incorrect: This paper is inferior than that.
    Correct: This paper is inferior to that.
    Incorrect: He is junior than me.
    Correct: He is junior to me.
    Incorrect: He is superior than you in strength.
    Correct: He is superior to you in strength.

    Explanations

    The comparatives senior, junior, superior, inferior etc., are followed by to, and not than.

    Incorrect: He rides in a cycle.
    Correct: He rides on a cycle.
    Incorrect: He rides on a car.
    Correct: He rides in a car.
    Incorrect: He sat in a table.
    Correct: He sat on a table.
    Incorrect: The cat is in the roof.
    Correct: The cat is on the roof.

    Explanation

    Use ‘on’ when the meaning is clearly ‘on top of’. For example, on a horse, on a bicycle, on a table, on the roof etc. Use in when ‘on top of’ is not appropriate. For example, in a car, in an airplane etc.

    Incorrect: There was a match between team A against team B.
    Correct: There was a match between team A and team B.
    Incorrect: The meeting will be held between 4 pm to 6 pm.
    Correct: The meeting will be held between 4 pm and 6 pm.

    Explanation

    Between is followed by and, not to or against.

    Incorrect: The First World War was fought during 1914 – 18.
    Correct: The First World War was fought between 1914 and 1918.
    Incorrect: There was a fight with John and Peter.
    Correct: There was a fight between John and Peter.
    Incorrect: England grew prosperous between Queen Victoria’s reign.
    Correct: England grew prosperous during Queen Victoria’s reign.

    Explanation

    Two events or people should be mentioned if you want to use between.

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    Correct Use of the Present Perfect Continuous Tense

    The present perfect continuous tense is used to talk about an action that started in the past, has continued up to the present and is still continuing.
    Structure: Subject + has/have + been + -ing form of the verb + object/complement/adverbials etc.

    Alice has been reading a novel for two hours.
    Susie has been knitting a sweater for her mother.
    Scientists have been working on the human genome project for several years.
    The Americans have been spending billions of dollars on space research.
    We have been waiting for him since morning.
    It has been raining since yesterday.
    The anxious mother has been waiting for a phone call from her daughter in the US.
    We have been trying to find a solution to this vexed problem.

    Notes:

    The question form in this tense will be as follows:

    Has Alice been reading a novel for two hours?

    Have scientists been working on the human genome project for several years?
    Has it been raining since yesterday?

    The negative form in this tense will be as follows:

    Alice has not been reading a novel for two hours.
    It has not been raining since yesterday.

    The present perfect continuous tense shows an action that started in the past and has been continuing ever since. Therefore, the only point of time that can be mentioned in such a sentence is the time at which the action started.

    He has been working here since 2002.
    I have been waiting for a bus since 8 o’clock.

    It is also possible to mention the period of time during which the action has been going on.

    He has been working here for 7 years.
    I have been waiting for a bus for two hours.

    But it is wrong to say:

    We have been working all yesterday. (Here the action took place in the place and present perfect continuous tense cannot be used to talk about past actions.)
    It has been raining during the whole of last week. (Wrong)

    Instead you must say:

    We worked all yesterday.
    It rained during the whole of last week.

    Present perfect continuous and simple past

    Note how the meaning changes when the present perfect continuous tense is replaced by a simple past tense.

    We have been working since yesterday. (= We started the work yesterday and we are still working.)
    We worked all yesterday. (= We have stopped working.)
    It has been raining since yesterday. (= It is still raining.)
    It rained all yesterday. (= It has stopped raining.)

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