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Identifying Subject & Verb in a Sentence

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New post 19 Dec 2011, 20:42
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Hi,

I know definition of a subject & verb. But I am find it difficult to identify correct subject and verb in a sentence (implementing definition correctly). Can some one provide me guidance/tips, how to best identify subject and verb in a sentence. Due to this I am getting SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT problems incorrect most of the time.

Thanks for you help.
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New post 28 Dec 2011, 14:40
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Hi there! :) That's a great question --- in practice, how do you identify the subject and verb of a sentence? Here's a complex sentence:

Policymakers must confront the dilemma that fossil fuels continue to be an indispensable source of energy even though burning them produces atmospheric accumulations of carbon dioxide that increase the likelihood of potentially disastrous global climate change.

I highlighted in color the verbs that appear, and the question is: how does one determined which is *the* the verb of the sentence?

A sentence like this more complicated than a sentence like "The man walks" because of the phrases that describe things. The grammatical name is a "dependent clause": this is a mini-sentence within the sentence that describes one particular element. Let's start with the simple sentence "The man walks" and add a couple dependent clauses.

The man (who arrived yesterday from Canada) walked to the place (where they have been selling snowshoes throughout the summer).

Notice, I put the dependent clauses in parentheses, which makes the core sentence easier to see. Notice that these clauses that describe individual nouns often begin with the words: who, which, that, where. Notice, also, they are called "dependent" because they can't stand on their own as sentences --- "who arrived yesterday from Canada" is not a complete sentence.

Dependent clauses also can describe the time or manner or quality of an action: these begin with words like after, although, as, as far as, as if, as long as, as soon as, as though, because, before, if, in order that, since, so, so that, than, though, unless, until, when, whenever, where, whereas, wherever, and while. These words (called "subordinating conjunctions") make one part of the sentence dependent, unable to stand on its own. ---- e.g. (After the woman came home), the man went to the store.

The trick is to identify and mentally block out the dependent clauses; being familiar with the list of subordinating conjunctions above will help you. After you have eliminated anything that's a dependent clause, you will be left with the *independent clause*, the core part that could stand on its own as a sentence. Back to the sentence I cited above:

Policymakers must confront the dilemma that fossil fuels continue to be an indispensable source of energy even though burning them produces atmospheric accumulations of carbon dioxide that increase the likelihood of potentially disastrous global climate change.

When we mark off the dependent clauses with conjunctions in color, we have:

Policymakers must confront the dilemma (that fossil fuels continue to be an indispensable source of energy) (even though burning them produces atmospheric accumulations of carbon dioxide) (that increase the likelihood of potentially disastrous global climate change.)

This makes it easier to see that the core sentence is: "Policymakers must confront the dilemma." That's the independent clause, which can stand alone as a sentence.

Notice you have to have subject-verb agreement in the independent clause, and in each dependent clause:
Independent: Policymakers . . . must confront.
Dependent #1: fossil fuels . . . continue
Dependent #2: burning . . . produces
Dependent #1: [atmospheric accumulations] . . . increase

I hope that's helpful! :)

Mike
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New post 28 Dec 2011, 17:14
Thanks Mike for answering this question. Really very helpful
+1 kudo to you
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Identifying Subject & Verb in a Sentence  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Feb 2016, 19:21
Help! Please help me identifying the Subject and Verb of the following sentence

LONG after the dust settles in Iowa — and New Hampshire, and even the 2016 campaign itself — one question will remain: Why, after decades of supporting the liberal and conservative establishments, did the white middle-class abandon them? (A extract from NYT).

How to master S V identification in complex sentences? I have completely studied the rules but still lack the confidence to put them to practice in long sentences. Can you please suggest me a resource where I can get practice and master identification of SV pairs in GMAT type questions?
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Re: Identifying Subject & Verb in a Sentence  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Feb 2016, 00:15
Hi DBM,

You'll likely get a much bigger response if you post this question the SC sub-Forum here:

gmat-sentence-correction-sc-138/

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Re: Identifying Subject & Verb in a Sentence  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Feb 2016, 08:18
gargmanu wrote:
Hi,

I know definition of a subject & verb. But I am find it difficult to identify correct subject and verb in a sentence (implementing definition correctly). Can some one provide me guidance/tips, how to best identify subject and verb in a sentence. Due to this I am getting SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT problems incorrect most of the time.

Thanks for you help.

Hi Manu, the key actually is to find out the subject and a subject is defined as the doer of the verb. So, from the intended meaning of the sentence, you need to find who the doer of the verb is.

If that doer turns out to be singular, it means that the subject is singular (and hence you need to choose singular verb); else the subject is plural (and hence you need to choose plural verb).

Perhaps you already know this but the complexities are tripping you off. In that case, please PM me your mail-id and I will be happy to send the entire Subject-Verb agreement chapter from our book, by mail. In addition, the entire Grammar section of the book is also available for free preview at pothi.
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Sentence Correction Nirvana available on Amazon.in and Flipkart

Now! Preview the entire Grammar Section of Sentence Correction Nirvana at pothi.com

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Re: Identifying Subject & Verb in a Sentence  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Feb 2016, 12:50
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DBM wrote:
Help! Please help me identifying the Subject and Verb of the following sentence

Long after the dust settles in Iowa — and New Hampshire, and even the 2016 campaign itself — one question will remain: Why, after decades of supporting the liberal and conservative establishments, did the white middle-class abandon them? (A extract from NYT).

How to master S V identification in complex sentences? I have completely studied the rules but still lack the confidence to put them to practice in long sentences. Can you please suggest me a resource where I can get practice and master identification of SV pairs in GMAT type questions?

Dear DBM,
I'm happy to respond. :-)

First of all, this sentence from the NYT is somewhat colloquial and catchy. It is not an academic sentence. The NYT used to have exceptionally high standards, but in these rough times for newspapers, apparently even the finest are pandering to low tastes in writing.

The sentence begins with a long adverbial clause, a verb-modifying clause:
Long after the dust settles in Iowa—and New Hampshire, and even the 2016 campaign itself—
The word "after" is a subordinate conjunction, which begins a subordinate clause. It's extremely important to recognize subordinate conjunctions, because they help you distinguish the subordinate clauses from the independent clause.
The word "long" is an adverb, modifying the clause beginning with "after."
The word "after" is a subordinate conjunction that begins a subordinate clause.
The words "the dust" = subject of the subordinate clause
The word "settles" = the verb of the subordinate clause
Then the word "in" begins a prepositional phrase that has one object, "Iowa," and then additional objects in parallel between the dashes. The prepositional phrase is also an adverbial phrase, a verb-modifying phrase: it tells us metaphorically "where" the dust settles.

That entire first part of the sentence is a long subordinate clause that is a verb-modifier for the main verb. It answers the question "when?" which is an adverbial question.

Then, we get to the relatively short independent clause, the heart of the sentence:
"one question will remain"
Main Subject = "one question"
Main Verb = "will remain" (future tense)

Then, there's a colon. One use of the colon is to identify an element mentioned in the first half of the sentence. We mentioned "one question." The part after the colon identifies this question. This question is a complete sentence on its own.
"Why, after decades of supporting the liberal and conservative establishments, did the white middle-class abandon them?"
The word "why" is an interrogative adverb, that is, a "question-starting" word

The part set apart in commas are just two prepositional phrases. The words "after" and "of" are prepositions, and each begins a prepositional phrase. Notice: like many other words, the word "after" can be either a preposition or a subordinate conjunction, depending on context. The first preposition phrase is in the simple form of [preposition] + [noun] = "after decades"
The second prepositional phrase is trickier, because the object is not a simple noun: the object is a gerund phrase. The gerund "supporting" has a long direct object, "the liberal and conservative establishments."
This pair of prepositional phrases form another adverbial phrase, a verb-modifying phrase, that answers the question "when?"

After the commas, we get to the heart of the question:
did the white middle-class abandon them
The main subject of the question "the white middle-class"
The main verb of the question: "did . . . abandon"---auxiliary verb at the beginning of the clause, as is typical in a question.
Direct object: "them" (Pronoun whose antecedent = "the liberal and conservative establishments")

My friend, it is not enough to study just nouns and verb. You need to be able to recognize different types of clauses, as well as gerunds, infinitives, and participles. Perhaps most difficult is that virtually any structure can be nested inside another structure.

I would say that many students find that when they purchase Magoosh and watch all the SC video lessons, they have a much better idea of how sentences fit together. That's what I would recommend. Here's a sample lesson:
Substantive Clauses

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)
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Identifying Subject & Verb in a Sentence  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Sep 2018, 22:27
Hello everyone,

Need help in understanding how does the first part underlined not have a main verb? My understanding is that "surge" and "drop" are verbs.

A surge in new home sales and a drop in weekly unemployment claims suggest that the economy might not be as weak as some analysts previously thought.
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Identifying Subject & Verb in a Sentence  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Sep 2018, 23:16
Hi Muskan01

This question is discussed at length here
One of the fruitful ways to get your query resolved faster is to search appropriately in the correct forums.
See this post for details.

Coming to your question:
Quote:
Need help in understanding how does the first part underline not have a main verb? My understanding is that "surge" and "drop" are verbs.

A surge in new home sales and a drop in weekly unemployment claims suggest that the economy might not be as weak as some analysts previously thought.


I assume you are just starting with your prep. One of the crucial ways to tackle SC qs is to start breaking them in to phrases and clauses
(with practice, you must get this mentally done in your head)

A surge (noun- 1) in new home sales
and a drop (noun- 2) in weekly unemployment claims

suggest (plural verb for above two nouns joined by AND)

that

the economy might not be as weak as some analysts previously thought.

red= nouns/ subjects
blue = verbs

Hope this helps.
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Identifying Subject & Verb in a Sentence &nbs [#permalink] 29 Sep 2018, 23:16
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