Syntax: Pronoun-Subject-Verb Agreement

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Are either of the 2024 candidates acceptable to you? Or is neither candidate acceptable to you?

Distributive Determiners that Always Require a Singular Verb:

  • Either/Neither: Refers to one (or not one) out of two items: “Neither of your claims is sufficient to convey standing.”
    • Exception—Neither/Nor OR Either/Or Constructions: Agree the verb with the noun that’s closer to nor/or: “Neither the plaintiff nor the defendants are willing to compromise.”
  • Each: Refers to every one of two or more items, taken one-by-one: “Each additional day you wait is another day that justice is delayed.”

Distributive Determiners that Always Require a Plural Verb:

  • Both: Refers to two items collectively: “Both parties are unwilling to compromise.”
  • Few: Refers to a small number (but more than one) of something: “Few judges would entertain these claims.”
  • Many: Refers to a larger number of something: “Many judges would reject this claim out-of-hand.”
  • These/Those: Refer to multiple items that are either nearby (these) or further away (those): “These circumstances are unfortunate but not illegal.”

Context-Specific Distributive Determiners: Agreement depends on the noun referred to.

  • Such:
    • Singular: “Such behavior is prohibited. ”
    • Plural: Such actions are prohibited by law.”
  • Any:
    • Singular: Is any book missing from the stack?”
    • Plural: Are there any books missing from the stack?”
  • Some:
    • Singular: “There is some time left on the claim because of the tolling provision.”
    • Plural: Some judges are more open to abstract state-standing theories than others.”

And now that each of you is well-versed in distributive determiners, here are a few practice problems!

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1. For the following sentence, determine the correct verb: Each of the speeches was about as long as War and Peace.

2 / 10

2. For the following sentence, determine the correct verb and best parallel construction: In the section of its filing addressing the risks of doing business overseas, the company cited several potential pitfalls, each of which entail a greater risk of global upheaval than of internal failure.

3 / 10

3. For the following sentence, determine the proper verb: Each of our initial encounters was awkward, but we eventually found common ground.

4 / 10

4. Which of these sentences has a subject-verb agreement error?

5 / 10

5. Imagine two sentences, each of which begins with “A number of” or “The number of.” Which of these is true?

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6. In the next sentence, which of the underlined words or phrases, if any, has an error? Gervonta Davis, whose defensive instincts hew to the style of Mayweather, is undefeated in 17 professional fights, and all but one of those victories was by knockout.

7 / 10

7. Choose the correct verb for the underlined portion of the following sentence: When they arrived at the reception, half of the room holding the 200 guests was swarming with activity, but the other half seemed surprisingly somber.

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8. Choose the correct verb for the underlined portion of the following sentence: Most of the available information about how resistance genes are transferred have come from studies of enteric pathogens.

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9. In the next sentence, which of the underlined words or phrases, if any, has an error? Neither the frontrunner nor her primary challenger are likely to win over a plurality of the delegates, making a contested convention all the more possible.

10 / 10

10. In the next sentence, which of the underlined words or phrases, if any, has an error? Neither the brief nor the supporting declaration detail in any way that customers can actually purchase or use the product or that any purchase has occurred at all.

Your score is

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