Saturday, April 29, 2006

Subject Verb Agreement

GMAT Verbal Section -- Sentence Correction

Subject - Verb Agreement

The Verbal section of the GMAT includes about 14 Sentence Correction questions. These questions test your grammar skills and the use of proper words. It also tests your knowledge of punctuation.

Each question is a sentence which has been underlined partly or wholly. The answer choices represent different ways of expressing the underlined part.Choice A is always the repetition of the original words stated in the question.The right answer corrects all of the errors without introducing any new mistakes.

Subject verb agreement is one of the most important categories of grammer employed in sentence correction questions.

The subject of the sentence must agree with the verb of the sentence.They must agree in number ( singular or plural ) and person ( first, second or third).e.g

1). He and his friends are at college.
He and his friends--(plural subject).
are---(Plural verb).

2). The pen or the pencil is in the drawer.
The pen--( singular subject)
The pencil--(singular subject)
is---(singular verb)

The following are the situations where subject verb disagreement is there but it is difficult to spot:-

1). Compound subjects

i). When the subject of a sentence is formed of two or more nouns or pronouns connected by "and",we use a plural verb.e.g

Gold and silver are precious metals.
gold and silver--(plural subject)
are---(plural verb).

Note: Exception to the above rule is --- when the compound subjects are preceded by “every,” “no,” or “nothing”

ii). When two or more singular nouns or pronouns are connected by "or" or "nor", we use a singular verb.e.g

The book or the dictionary is in the last drawer of the table.
The book or the dictionary --( two singular nouns connected by "or")
is---(singular verb)

iii). If the subjects are joined by “nor” or “or,” the verb agrees with the subject closer to the verb i.e (the last one).e.g

Neither Peter's relatives nor his wife agrees with his decision.
"his wife" is the subject closer to verb "agree "
his wife --(singular).
agrees---(Verb with s-ending).

Neither Peter's wife nor his relatives agree with his decision.
"his relatives" is the subject closer to verb "agree".
his relatives--(plural subject)
agree---(verb without s- ending:in diction form)

2). "Doesn't" is a contracted form of "does not" , so it should be used only with a singular subject. "Don't" is a contracted form of "do not" . It should be used only with a plural subject.
The exception to this rule-- in the case of the first person and second person, pronouns "I " and "you" as with these pronouns, the contraction "don't" should be used.e.g

I don't want it.
I--(singular pronoun)
don't is used.

He doesn't want it
He--(singular pronoun apart from I and you)
doesn't is used.

3). Intervening phrases and clauses do not affect the subject-verb agreement.The verb agrees with the subject, not with a noun or pronoun in the phrase or the sentence.e.g

One of the books is costly.
One--(singular subject)
is---(singular verb)

The people who appreciate art are many.
The people--(plural subject)
are---(plural verb)

4). The indefinite pronouns somebody, someone, each, each one, either, neither, everyone, everybody, anybody, anyone, nobody, and no-one are singular and require a singular verb.e.g

Each of these recipies is delicious.
Each---( indefinite singular pronoun)
is---(singular verb)

5). Plural indefinite pronouns both, few, many, several require a plural verb.e.g

Many of the riders were skinny, bold boys.
Many--(indefinite plural pronoun)
were---(plural verb)

6). A noun meaning one thing is always third -person singular, even if it ends in -s:

The news was shattering.
news---(singular noun)
was---(singular verb)

Mumps is a painful disease.
Mumps--(singular noun)
is---(singular verb)

Note: When talking about an amount of money, the word "dollars" requires a singular verb, but when referring to the dollars themselves, a plural verb is required.

7). In sentences starting with there or here, the subject follows the verb.e.g

There were three cars outside the office.
Cars---(plural subject)
were---(plural verb)

8). Collective nouns are singular when they refer to a unit and plural when they refer to the individuals or elements of a unit.
The committee meets every friday evening.
Committee---(it is singular)
meets---(verb with s- ending)

9). The number of modified noun and pronoun depends on the noun or pronoun itself--- not on the modifiers attached to it.

The clouds that hovered over Delhi were thick.
Clouds---(plural subject)
were---(plural verb)

The President, accompanied by his wife, is travelling to New York.
The President--(singular subject)
is---(singular verb)

10). Pronouns variable in number include all, any, many, more, most, some ,that,which and who.The number of these pronouns depend on the number of the word or phrase to which they refer.e.g

Some of the ice was melting.
was---(singular verb)

Phrases such as together with, as well as, and along with are not the same as and. The phrase introduced by as well as or along with will modify the earlier word (chief in this case), but it does not compound the subjects (as the word and would do).

The chief
as well as his supporters is going to prison.
The chief and his supporters are going to jail.