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Editing: Sharpening Your Understanding

In the ‘editing’ section of your primary 5 English exam or the PSLE, you will be tested on the following

  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Punctuation

In this article, we will go deeper into the following subtopics related to editing

  1. Articles
  2. Commonly confused/similar-sounding words
  3. Commonly misspelt words
  4. Conjunctions/connectors
  5. Gerunds

Editing might appear difficult and sound confusing. However, it is really easy. You simply need to break down the questions into smaller parts while solving them. 

Go through the complete article to get a good understanding of the basic concepts.

1. Articles

There are only three articles in the English language - a, an, the

  1. A: singular, nonspecific object
  2. An: same, but only with words that begin with a vowel sound
  3. The: Used to refer to specific object/s


When Harry was a baby, he earned the nickname The Boy Who Lived. The nickname stuck with him for the rest of his life.

Question 1:

A magician’s performance.

“For my next trick, I’ll need (1)__________ volunteer. (2) __________ woman.

How about (3) __________ one laughing right now? Yeah, you! A round of applause, ladies and gentlemen!”

And that was the day Jennifer fell in love..., not with the magician, with MAGIC.


(1) a

(2) A

(3) the


Recall the vowel sounds associated with A-E-I-O-U. When you’re doing these questions, you must take note of vowel SOUNDS (NOT spelling).

‘An’ is used with vowel sounds and ‘a’ is used with everything else.

Which articles, ‘a’ or ‘an’, will go with the following words?

  • University : (a)
  • Honour : (an)
  • Degree : (a)

Question 2:

Identify the article to be used with the words Unicorn & X-Ray

  1. A unicorn, a x-ray
  2. An unicorn, an x-ray
  3. A unicorn, an x-ray
  4. An unicorn, a x-ray


(3) A unicorn, an x-ray

2. Commonly Confused/ Similar Sounding

These types of words are normally of two types:

  1. Some are HOMOPHONES (different spelling, same sound)
  2. Some are plain old typos (typo means typographical error)

Some examples of homophones are

  • Bear and bare
  • Ice and eyes
  • Bee and be
  • Loose and lose

Question 3:

The dessert was well put-together, it truly delighted my palette.

  1. Palate
  2. Palace
  3. Plate
  4. Pellet


(1) Palate


  • Pallet: means a portable platform on which goods can be stacked, stored, and moved
  • Pellet: means a small, rounded, compressed mass of a substance
  • Palate: means taste or a person's ability to distinguish between and appreciate different flavours
  • Palette: is related to painting and refers to a thin board or slab on which an artist lays and mixes colours

More Examples of Confusing Words

  • Flesh & Flash
  • Flesh : means meat
  • Flash : means bright light or fast
  • Worse & Worst
    • Worse : refers to a comparison between two things and means that one of them is ‘more bad’ than the other.
    • Worst : refers to the ‘most bad’ in a group or batch. It cannot get more bad than this. It means the ‘highest degree’ of being bad.

In terms of increasing intensity, we use the word ‘bad’ as bad, worse and worst.

  • Magnificent & Maleficent
    • Magnificent : means wonderful
    • Maleficent: means causing harm or destruction, especially by supernatural means

Question 4:

“In my work, I do a lot of _________ and _________.”

Murders and executions?!”

“WHAT?! That’s not what I said! I said:

Adapted from Bret Easton Ellis’ work.

  1. Mergers and acquisitions
  2. Maternal and accidental
  3. Emergencies and exe-cuse-mee


(1) Mergers and acquisitions

3. Commonly Misspelt Words

Here are a few tricks to gain mastery at solving such questions.

  1. Read often; you’ll get a sense of how words should look
  2. In English, we tend to use certain letters in a few specific ways (e.g. it’s always a “c” and never a “k”: Combat, cost, colour)
  3. Make a smart guess if you really don’t know the spelling 

Question 5:

“HURRY UP OR YOU WILL BE LATE FOR TIUSHEN!” I screamed at my reflection in the mirror, as I took my time combing my hair.




More Examples of commonly misspelt words for practice

  • Pronounciation? : Correct spelling is Pronunciation
  • Conveniantly? : Correct spelling is Conveniently
  • Sacrifised? : Correct spelling is Scarificed
  • Jenetically? : Correct spelling is Genetically
  • Confrontashen? : Correct spelling is Confrontation
  • Oobikuwittes? : Correct spelling is Ubiquitous (means ‘everywhere’)
  • Sucess? : Correct spelling is Success

Question 6:

Richard was doing his math homework, so he reached into his pencil case to take out his protector. To his surprise, he found a folded note. On the outside was written, “Richard, you are a good student. - Ms Tan”.

His heart was warm with pride as he unfolded the note. Inside, it said...

“lol sike”

Richard hung his head in shame and swore never to read notes again.

  1. Protectar
  2. Protrector
  3. Protractar
  4. Protractor


(4) Protractor

4. Conjunctions/Connectors

They connect clauses in different ways

  1. Take note, you CAN start a sentence with a conjunction like “and” and “but”
  2. Quite straightforward once you get the hang of it

Let’s practice using a few connectors so we understand the concept.

Unless you run, you will be late.

Means: You will be late if you do not run.

You will reach on time unless there is a traffic jam.

Means: You will reach on time provided that there is no traffic jam.


“Since” can often (not always!) be replaced with: { because, for, as }

“It will remain hidden since it is invisible.” / “Since it is invisible, it will remain hidden.” {Here ‘since’ means ‘because’}


Since you’ve been gone, I can’t breathe for the first time. {Here ‘since’ refers to ‘from the time’}

Question 7:

Reading helps you improve your language and allows you to learn new things. Furthermore, you look smart when you sit there with a book, a serious expression on your face.

Which word cannot replace “furthermore”?

  1. Moreover
  2. Besides
  3. Also
  4. However


(4) However

5. Gerunds

In most cases when we transform the verb to a noun, we add the ‘ing’ in the end.

  • Ends with an “ing”


“I love to run. Running is the best.”

Running is a good sport. (Gerund)

I am running. (Verb)


Question 8:

It seems I have been consumption too many sweet treats at late hours.

  1. Consume
  2. Consumed
  3. Consuming
  4. Consumes


(3) Consuming

Some points to remember when converting verb to noun:

  1. Identify the root verb
  2. Add an “ing” to the end


  • Verb - estimate
  • Noun - estimating


  • Verb - cooperate
  • Noun - cooperating


  • Verb - neglect
  • Noun - neglecting


In this article, we covered a few common topics in editing - articles, commonly confused/ similar sounding words, misspelt words, conjunctions/ connectors and gerunds. The more you read, the more familiar you’ll get with the language and you’ll get better at spotting spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. So make it a point to read as much as you can. Read daily and develop mastery in the language.

Continue Learning
Synthesis & Transformation : Reason Relative Pronouns: Who, Whom & Whose
Vocabulary: Synonyms & Word Substitution Pronouns: Demonstrative, Possessive & Reflexive
Editing: Sharpening Your Understanding Synthesis & Transformation: Reported Speech
Verbs: Modals & Interrogatives Synthesis & Transformation - Active And Passive Voice
Character Development: ALTOS & Creating A Memorable Character Grammar Cloze - Revision
Expand Your Vocabulary: Different Ways To Express Speech, Hearing & Seeing Comprehension & Question Tags
The Difference in Some Clozes Perfect Tense & Common Tense Errors
Interrogative Words & Modal Verbs Prepositions - All Types
Comprehension - Factual Questions Simple, Perfect And Continuous Tenses
Resources - Academic Topics
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