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subject verb agreement help

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subject verb agreement help [#permalink] New post 25 May 2011, 13:10
Here are 2 snippets of correct sentences:

The members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries usually comply with its decisions, which are designed to maximize the long term profits of member nations.

Here the subject is singular and uses "its"

Members of Congress were surprised to learn that legislation that was passed to prevent.....

Here the subject is plural and uses "were"

Can someone explain? I used "their" for the 1st sentence instead of its because I thought the subject is plural due to "members". My thought was to take out the middlemen: 'The members usually comply with their decisions...'

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Re: subject verb agreement help [#permalink] New post 25 May 2011, 15:11
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In the first sentence, "its" refers to OPEC, not its members. The sentence is saying that members of a group comply with its decisions. Here I'll use bold & italics to link the matching terms:

The members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries usually comply with its decisions.

This makes more sense than the alternate interpretation, that the members comply with their own individual decisions.

In the second sentence, however, "were" makes sense, as it is the members, and not Congress, that were surprised. Here, we can ignore the modifier "of Congress" and just say "Members were surprised."

I hope this helps!
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Re: subject verb agreement help [#permalink] New post 25 May 2011, 18:07
Thanks that really helped!
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Re: subject verb agreement help [#permalink] New post 29 May 2011, 07:07
Nice, I had the same question!
Re: subject verb agreement help   [#permalink] 29 May 2011, 07:07
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