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Subject – Verb agreement is the most commonly tested question type on the GMAT.
Every sentence has a subject and a verb which must agree in number.
The GMAT tries to make the subject of sentence as confusing as possible, so that you do not know whether the subject is singular or plural.
The key to making subjects and verbs agree in GMAT sentence is to first determine whether the subject of each sentence (or clause) is singular or plural.
There are two important review points pertaining to the Subject-Verb agreement
1. Subject and Verb must agree in Numbers
Rule: A singular subject must take a singular verb and a plural subject must take a plural verb.
The key to making subjects and verbs agree in GMAT sentences is to find the subject that goes with a particular verb. To find the subject, you must ignore all the words that are not the subject
A Singular subject requires a singular verb form: The dog runs out of the house. A Plural subject requires a plural verb form: The dogs run out of the house. REMEMBER: Only the third person singular subjects (e.g. he, she, it) takes the –S ending. All other subjects use the base form. (Except with the verb be)
2. Subject and Verb must make sense together.
THE MEANING PRINCIPLE: A CORRECT ANSWER MUST HAVE A CLEAR MEANING.
Thus the subject-verb must make logical sense.
e.g. The development of a hydrogen car based on expected performance parameters will be able to travel hundreds of miles without refueling. The development of a hydrogen car……..will be able to travel…..? It is not the development that will be able to travel. We want to say that the hydrogen car itself will be able to travel. Make sure that the subject and the verb actually have a sensible meaning together. Correct: Once developed, a hydrogen car based on expected performance parameters will be able to travel hundreds of miles without refueling.
How will the Subject-Verb Agreement be tested on the GMAT
 By Putting Interrupters between the subject and the verb
There are three types of interrupters commonly placed between the subject and the verb.
Appositives: Appositives are nouns, pronouns, or noun phrases that are placed next to nouns to further describe them. Consider this Sentence: [i]The concert, featuring the Oak City Bango Kings, begin at 7.00. Here the phrase featuring the oak…….kings describes the subject The Concert. The sentence tries to confuse us by ending the phrase with the plural kings. To avoid such confusion, omit the part between commas, and the error will immediately become obvious. Correct: The concert, featuring the Oak City Bango Kings, begins at 7.00
[ii] Relative Clauses: A part of the sentence preceded by relative pronoun modifying the antecedent. Incorrect:The Spanish artist, who is one of the world’s leading exponents of salsa and is known to have taught thousands of students, are living in exile.
Here the relative clause ends with the plural students confusing us whether to use are or is. We should note that the main subject is Artist and main verb must agree with it.
Correct:The Spanish artist, who is one of the world’s leading exponents of salsa and is known to have taught thousands of students, is living in exile.
[iii] Prepositional Phrases: Phrases beginning with preposition and ending with noun/pronoun modify the first word (a noun or verb) in the relationship.
Incorrect:The Animals in the zoo is hungry.
The subject is the plural Animals, so the verb must be the plural are.
Correct: The Animals in the zoo are hungry.
 By putting Additives after subject.
In English, only the word "and" can give a plural subject. All other phrases (such as as well as, including, in addition to) merely add extra information to the subject. So when you see the sentence like one below, do not fall in to the trap. Eliminate the additive phrase and then check Subject-verb agreement.
Incorrect: John, as well as his friend, are coming for dinner Correct: John, as well as his friend, is coming for dinner.
Incorrect: Mathematics, in addition to history and science, are a required subject. Correct: Mathematics, in addition to history and science, is a required subject. Correct: Mathematics, history, and science, are required subjects.
Some common Additives: in addition to along with as well as together with including
IMPORTANT NOTE: In the following two cases, even though two subjects are connected by “and” they will be considered singular subject. Case 1: If the parts refer to the same person or thing, or works as a single unit, then the verb should be singular e.g. Strawberries and cream is a high calorie snack.
Case 2: If the compound subject is preceded by each or every (thus referring to each subject individually), then the verb should be singular e.g. Every freshman and transfer student is required to take student life.
A hint is to look at the word that follows the verb. If this word is singular, the verb most probably will be singular. For example, in the sentence in Case 1, the singular word snack follows is and this implies that strawberries and cream is a singular subject.
 Either or / Neither nor.
In either…..or and neither ……..nor structure, the verb always agree with the subject that is closer to it. e.g. Neither the president nor his cabinet membersare in Washington this week. e.g. Neither the cabinet members nor the presidentis in Washington this week.
IMPORTANT NOTE: When either or neither is used in a sentence without the or or nor, then the verb has to be singular. e.g. Neither of john’s friends is here.
 Collective Nouns.
A collective or group noun identifies a single entity that is composed of more than one unit: class, team, faculty, majority, family, series, committee, audience, crowd. Collective nouns are singular when they act as one unit. e.g. The committeemeets Friday at noon. e.g. A majorityis needed to pass the bill.
But if the context of the sentence emphasizes the individual members of the group, collective nouns are plural. e.g. The committeesmeet each Friday at noon.
NOTE: On the GMAT, collective nouns are almost always considered singular and therefore require singular verb forms. (Reference :- (1) Aristotle SC Grail, 3rd Edition, Page No 55. (2) MGMAT SC Guide 4th Edition, Page No 40.)
 Commonly confused singular subjects. Each/Every Anyone/Everyone/Someone Anybody/Everybody/Somebody Anything/Everything/Something Whoever/Whatever Either/Neither (unless accompanied with ‘or/nor’) Nobody/Nothing/No one
NOTE:each following a subject has no bearing on the verb form. e.g. They eachare great tennis players
 The number/A number
The number is singular: The number of acres destroyed by wildfires has increased dramatically over the past several years.
A number is plural: A number of students are standing outside the office.
 Quantity Words and Phrases When discussing fractions or percentages, always get the verb to agree with the subject after the preposition. This is an exception to the preposition rule discussed earlier. e.g. Half of the money is stolen e.g. Half of the books are stolen
IMPORTANT NOTE:Majority by itself is singular but when majority refers to a set of people it is plural. e.g. A majority is always right. e.g. A majority of students are right.
 Subject Phrases and Clauses: Always Singular Sometimes the subject of a sentence is an -Ing phrase or even a whole clause. This sort of subject is always singular and requires a singular verb form.
Examples: Having good friendsis a wonderful thing. Whatever they want to dois fine with me. Delivering pizzasis not a glamorous job, but it pays my bills.
 Indefinite Pronouns
Most of the indefinite pronouns are considered singular except for SANAM pronouns
SANAM:Some, all, none, any, most. In case of SANAM pronoun, it can be singular or plural depending on the context of the sentence. e.g. Some of the students are in the class. e.g. Some of the water is in the glass.
 Inverted Sentences
Usually in a sentence the subject always precedes the verb, but sometimes the GMAT can reverse this order, so that the verb comes before the subject.
Incorrect: Through the Golden Eagle Bridge passes thousands of vehicles every day.
In the above sentence, the singular verb passes is not referring to the singular Golden Eagle Bridge but to the plural thousands of vehicles. Hence, the correct verb will be the plural pass.
Correct: Through the Golden Eagle Bridge pass thousands of vehicles every day.
Summing Up All
If the sentence is very long, omit the part between commas.
Collective Nouns (class, faculty, majority) are almost always singular.
Whenever you see the words each, every, and, as well as, or, etc. in a sentence, always check for subject-verb agreement mismatch.
If you are still confused, go with the singular.
SANAM (some, all, none, any, most) can be both singular and plural.
Edit: Disclaimer: This Article is the collection of notes/strategy tips/rules discussed in the strategy guides listed below. For the deep insights of Subject-Verb Agreement error type, readers can refer to these strategy guides.
Re: Subject-Verb Agreement + Pronouns [#permalink]
02 Jan 2015, 21:49
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Re: Subject-Verb Agreement + Pronouns
02 Jan 2015, 21:49