Syntax: Subject-Verb Agreement (General)

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Would a coalition of companies and their lawyer decide to sue? Or would that be “decides.”

Basic Subject-Verb Agreement Rules:

  • Singular Subjects: Singular subjects take singular verbs: “The dog barks at the mailman.”
  • Plural Subjects: Plural subjects take plural verbs: “The dogs bark at the mailman.”
  • Compound Subjects:
    • Connected with “and”: If a compound subject is connected by “and,” use a plural verb: “John’s friends and Sarah’s ex are going to the party.”
    • Connected with “or” or “nor”: If a compound subject is connected by “or” or “nor,” then the verb must agree with the closer subject: “John’s friends or Sarah’s ex is going to the party.”
  • Collective Nouns: Collective nouns are generally treated as a singular unit and take singular verbs: “The team is practicing for their upcoming match.”
    • Exception—Group Acting as Individuals: “The team members are going to complain to the Professor about the late assignment upload.”
  • Indefinite Pronouns: Singular indefinite pronouns take singular verbs (“Somebody is knocking on the door”); plural indefinite pronouns take plural verbs (“Several are interested in the job”).
  • Intervening Phrases and Clauses: Phrases and clauses between a subject and its verb do not affect the agreement: “The book, along with those pens, is on the desk.”

And since this lesson, along with the several others you’ve reviewed, needs some practice problems to ensure your mastery, please attempt the following.

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1 / 5

1. In the next sentence, which of the underlined words or phrases, if any, has an error? Both her jaw-dropping performance in “12 Years a Slave” and her distinctive fashion sense has won Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o, a graduate of the Yale School of Drama, plaudits from even the most jaded film critics.

2 / 5

2. In the next sentence, which of the underlined words or phrases, if any, has an error? In the next sentence, which of the underlined words or phrases, if any, has an error? If there are more than one lawyer working on the case, it is very helpful to circulate your outline and get feedback on it before beginning to draft your document in earnest.

3 / 5

3. Which rewrite of the underlined portion of the following sentence is correct? Missouri is one of several states that have struggled to procure drugs for lethal injection, as manufacturers have declined to sell the drugs to prisons.

4 / 5

4. In the next sentence, which of the underlined words or phrases, if any, has an error? Of the museum’s many recent changes, the most immediately obvious is the form and style of the exhibits, which have been adapted to a younger demographic.

5 / 5

5. 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.

Your score is

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