How to Approach Phrase Replacement in SSC Exams

Phrase replacement is one of the scoring topics and difficult questions are not asked from this topic in SSC exams including SSC CGL tier 1 and tier 2, SSC CHSL and SSC CPO , defence exams including AFCAT. The focus is on testing the candidate’s understanding of English through contextual errors and understanding of basic grammar through grammatical errors. Let us understand how to approach Phrase replacement in ssc and defence exams.


How can you start ?

Go through previous years’ papers (at least 2-3 years) of SSC and defence exams and go through each phrase replacement question asked in the paper. You will get an idea about different concepts that have been in focus since 2-3 years. Better it would be if you write down the concepts somewhere and revise at least these concepts before examination. If you have sufficient time, then kickstart your preparation with these concepts and then practice more and more of phrase replacement questions so that you will get acquainted with varieties of phrase replacement which can be asked in the SSC and defence examination.

How to Approach Phrase Replacement in SSC – 5 sure shot tips

Tip 1: Always mind the tense of the given sentence i.e. tense of the part of the sentence which is not underlined. Only that part which does not have any error will decide the tense of the whole sentence.

Tip 2:Try to understand the sentence contextually as sometimes in phrase replacement errors are not just grammatical. Sometimes they do not fit in the sentence meaningfully. So, if you have the understanding about what the sentence wants to convey then it will be easy to identify such incorrect phrases.

Tip 3: The all-time favourite elimination method. This helps you to weed out options which you are sure that they cannot be the answer.

Tip 4: Keep in mind some frequent concepts related to grammar which are asked in SSC and defence exams.

Tip 5: In many cases different concepts are mixed in a question. For ex: both tenses and subject verb agreement are tested together in a question and different options will have different concept related error. On should know how to identify them.

Important Concepts in the Exam Point of View


This concept is frequently tested in the examination at least 3-4 questions must be related to subject verb agreement.

II .To+ Infinitive

This concept is also often asked in the SSC exam i.e. when used as infinitive marker ‘to’ is followed by a root verb.

III. Helping Verbs

One should know this concept also i.e. need of helping verb and where to place helping verb in a sentence. As in an interrogative sentence helping verb is placed differently than an assertive sentence.

IV.Use of phrases

Sometimes in phrase replacement ‘phrasal verbs’ and certain known phrases such as ‘get used to’(means ‘become familiar with it or get to know them, so that you no longer feel that the thing or person is unusual or surprising’).

V.Use of correct tense

Use of correct tenses is very important, and many questions are based on it. Though extensive knowledge of tenses is not required as focus is on basic concepts related to tenses.

VI.Use of correct preposition

There are phrases where incorrect preposition is used, and you need to identify it. Go through previous years papers and see how you find these preposition questions. Make a list of prepositions which can be asked. Usually they are easy and solvable.

VII.Rule related to Modal verbs

Modal verbs such as should, would, can, may, must are followed by a root verb. This concept is often asked in the exam. So, the best way is to know which are modal verbs and they should be followed by a root verb in the given sentence.

VIII. Use of WHO and WHICH

One should know some general rules such as ‘who’ is used with living things and ‘which’ is used with non-living things.

IX.Use of participle after HELPING VERB (‘be’) and auxiliary verb ‘has/have

There are a few concepts which are asked in the exam such as: Use of present and past participle after helping verb ‘is/are/was/were’, use of past participle after auxiliary verb has/have.

X.Use of correct ARTICLE

Knowledge of use of articles ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘an’ is also tested in the SSC exam.

XI.Use of COMPARATIVE DEGREE when needed

Correct use of comparative degree in a sentence when needed is also asked in exam.

These are a few concepts which important as per the previous years’ papers and also are important in general. We hope you got an idea about how to approach phrase replacement for SSC and defence exams. Practice as much as possible to understand variety in questions.

We present you with a few phrase replacements questions below. Try them to get a better understanding of phrase replacement questions asked in SSC and Defence exams.


Sample Phrase Replacement Questions with Explanation

Identify the best way to improve the underlined part of the given sentences. If there is no improvement required, select ‘no improvement’.

I. They believe that capitalism is not a better economic system for India.

(a).No improvement

(b)Not a good

(c)None a bad

(d)Not a worst

Answer Key: b)

Solution: The underlined part is incorrect as the sentence does not compare any two entities. So, use of comparative degree is incorrect here. ‘Better’ needs to be replaced by ‘good’. Use of ‘none’ is incorrect in option c). In option d) use of superlative degree ‘worst’ of adjective ‘bad’ is incorrect with article ‘a’. Hence, the answer is option b).

II. The guests did not want to eat anything since they were not hungry after the party.

(a) doesn’t wanted to eat

(b) didn’t wanted to eat

(c) don’t wants to eat

(d) No improvement

Answer key: d)

Solution: The underlined phrase of the sentence is both contextually and grammatically correct. Hence, the answer is option d).

III. This use of technology help farmers with existing credit to enhance their eligibility

(a) Will helping farmers

(b) Helps farmers

(c) Helping farmers

(d) No improvement

Answer Key: b)

Solution: The underlined part is incorrect as the singular noun ‘technology’ will take a singular helping verb after it. So, ‘help’ needs to be replaced by ‘helps’ as per the subject verb agreement rule. In option a) ‘will’ needs to be followed by ‘be’ for being followed by a present participle (i.e. ‘helping’ here) (The rule is ‘will’+ ‘be’+ ‘present/past participle’). In option c) the present participle ‘helping’ needs a helping verb before it (i.e. is/was). Hence, the answer is option b).

IV. His comments come a day after the World Bank announced the decision with pause publication of its global ‘Doing Business Report.

(a) announces the decision to

(b) No improvement

(c) Announced the decision to

(d) Declared that

Answer Key: c)

Solution: The underlined part is incorrect as the use of preposition ‘with’ needs to be replaced by ‘to’ as ‘to’ is used as an infinitive marker which is followed by a root verb i.e. ‘pause’ here. Use of ‘announces’ is incorrect in option a) as the given sentence talks about an event of the past. In option d) the phrase ‘declared that’ is incomplete and does not add meaning to the sentence. Hence, the answer is option c).

V.  Maguire claimed that incident took place outside a police station after he attempt to take his younger sister Daisy to a hospital.

(a) Attempted to take

(b) Will attempt to take

(c) No improvement

(d) Was attempting to have

Answer Key: a)

Solution: The given sentence talks about an event of the past so use of present tense is incorrect. So, the underlined part is incorrect.  This eliminates option b) also where future tense is used. In option d) use of ‘have’ is incorrect as it does not fit contextually in the sentence. Hence, the answer is option a).

how to approach phrase replacement in ssc and defence exams

To attempt Phrase Replacement Topic test  and master this concept –  Register here

That brings us to the end of the article. In this blog, we explained how to approach phrase replacement in ssc and defence exams with sample questions.Stay tuned with Oliveboard for more such articles to master English section of SSC.


Also read: SSC CGL TIER 2 English Section – Best Preparation Strategy




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