Advanced GMAT SC subject-verb agreement questions : GMAT Verbal Section
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# Advanced GMAT SC subject-verb agreement questions

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Joined: 11 Jan 2012
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12 Feb 2012, 15:47
Dear GMAT experts,

I have a few questions regarding indefinite pronouns and quantity words.

1. The SC guide states that to determine where SANAM pronouns are singular or plural, you can look at the Of phrase which usually follows the pronoun. However, what if no "of" phrase follows the pronoun?

Eg. Some are good to eat. (Does "some" become plural if there is no "of" phrase aft Likewise for the other SANAM pronouns...)

2. Is the word, "group" a collective singular noun? I get the impression that it can be categorized as an idiomatic expression that designates quantity, but if that is the case, then the verb would be determined by the "of phrase." Is that correct?

Eg1. A group of soldiers [verb]... (is this plural or singular?)

Eg2. A group is going...

3. The SC guide states that subjects preceded by "each" are singular. However, what if you have a compound subject where one subject is preceded by "each" and the other is not:

Eg. Each dog and all of the cats [verb]... (is this subject singular or plural?)

4. The SC guide states that to find the subject, you flip certain sentences. For example, "there are 3 dogs." -> 3 dogs are there.

However, what if the sentence is more complex:

Eg. There are 3 apples or 1 pear.

Do you flip it like this:
3 apples or 1 pear is there.
or like this:
1 pear or 3 apples are there.

Do the two different ways result in different verbs because the verb tense depend on the last noun after the "or"? In other words, should the original sentence have a singular or plural verb?
If you have any questions
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13 Feb 2012, 06:36
3
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workingonit121 wrote:
Dear GMAT experts,

I have a few questions regarding indefinite pronouns and quantity words.

1. The SC guide states that to determine where SANAM pronouns are singular or plural, you can look at the Of phrase which usually follows the pronoun. However, what if no "of" phrase follows the pronoun?

Eg. Some are good to eat. (Does "some" become plural if there is no "of" phrase aft Likewise for the other SANAM pronouns...)

It depends on what you are talking about. The GMAT would never use the phrase "Some are good to eat" without something in the sentence making it clear what the "some" refers to. It would depend on whether the thing in question were countable or uncountable. For example:

"There are many wild nuts in the forest; some are good to eat." (nuts: countable; use plural)
"There is a lot of bacon in the fridge; some is good to eat." (bacon: uncountable; use singular)

Don't be so hung up on looking for specific clues that you miss the larger point (whether the reference is logical and whether the construction matches with what it logically refers to).

Quote:
2. Is the word, "group" a collective singular noun? I get the impression that it can be categorized as an idiomatic expression that designates quantity, but if that is the case, then the verb would be determined by the "of phrase." Is that correct?

Eg1. A group of soldiers [verb]... (is this plural or singular?)

Eg2. A group is going...

"Group" is singular if it is referring to a group acting in tandem as a unit. In the case of soldiers, if they all belonged to the same army, then a "group of soldiers" would almost always be used in such a way as to portray them acting as one unit, in sync. Thus, a sentence would be, "A group of soldiers is training for combat."

Now, suppose that the soldiers are retreating in battle and NOT in an orderly fashion. In that case, everyone is going his own way and they are not acting together. For example, "A group of soldiers are retreating haphazardly and cowardly."

Quote:
3. The SC guide states that subjects preceded by "each" are singular. However, what if you have a compound subject where one subject is preceded by "each" and the other is not:

Eg. Each dog and all of the cats [verb]... (is this subject singular or plural?)

If you have a compound subject with "and" it is always plural unless the "and" is part of a title or amount (in which case it is NOT in fact a compound subject on the level of the sentence but a singular subject with a compound depicted within its own world).

Each dog is rushing toward his food bowl.
The dogs are each rushing toward their food bowls.
All of the cats are rushing toward their food bowls.
Each of the dogs and all of the cats are rushing toward the food bowls.

The pronoun in that last sentence is tricky; I would avoid using "their food bowls" since I'm not sure about melding the dogs one by one onto the plurality implied by the cats but it might be acceptable; I'll look into that.

Quote:
4. The SC guide states that to find the subject, you flip certain sentences. For example, "there are 3 dogs." -> 3 dogs are there.

However, what if the sentence is more complex:

Eg. There are 3 apples or 1 pear.

Do you flip it like this:
3 apples or 1 pear is there.
or like this:
1 pear or 3 apples are there.

Do the two different ways result in different verbs because the verb tense depend on the last noun after the "or"? In other words, should the original sentence have a singular or plural verb?

With "or," it depends on which subject is closer to the verb.

"There are 3 apples or 1 pear." ("apples" is closer, so use "are.")
"There is 1 pear or 3 apples." ("pear" is closer, so use "is.")

Hope this helps!
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Nicholas MOSES

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13 Feb 2012, 07:26
wow, great reply. Thanks! +1 Kudos
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13 Feb 2012, 09:11
1
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workingonit121 wrote:
The SC guide states that to find the subject, you flip certain sentences. For example, "there are 3 dogs." -> 3 dogs are there.

One more thing... just to be aware of. The inversion of subejct and verb is OBLIGATORY when sentences begin with adverbs/adverbial phrases that tell:

- Where
- To what extent

... and there is no comma after the adverb or adverbial phrase.

Here are some examples with adverbs of place:

Between the two coffee shops is a nice little newsstand.
There are no girls who can jump higher than Karen.

(Yes, "there" is an adverb telling us "where.")

Here are some examples with adverbs of degree:

Not in a million years will I find a maid so lovely as she.
Never have I ever been arrested.
Twice did he call for his son.

Note: in contemporary English, inversion is no longer obligatory for non-negative adverbs of degree, so "Twice he called for his son" would also be acceptable. However, "Never I have ever been arrested" would be completely wrong, as would be, "Between the two coffee shops a nice little newsstand is" (unless your name is Yoda).
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Nicholas MOSES

c/o MBA Center Paris

Re: Advanced GMAT SC subject-verb agreement questions   [#permalink] 13 Feb 2012, 09:11
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