ESSENTIAL GRAMMAR SKILLS
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. Subject-Verb Disagreement Trimming Sentences Parallelism Comparison Problems Pronoun-Antecedent Disagreement Pronoun Case Dangling and Misplaced Participles Other Misplaced Modiﬁers Tricky Tenses Idiom Errors Diction Errors Other Modiﬁer Problems Irregular Verbs The Subjunctive Mood Coordinating Ideas
Lesson 1: Subject-Verb Disagreement
The verb is the most important part of a sentence, but verbs aren’t always easy to spot. Consider the word swim in the sentences The ducks swim in the pond and The ducks love to swim. In the ﬁrst sentence, swim is the verb. In the second sentence, swim is part of a noun phrase. (To swim is the thing that the ducks love.) So how do we spot verbs? A verb is what conveys the essential meaning of a clause (a string of words that convey an idea). Every idea requires a verb. The sentence The ducks swim in the pond says that Something swims somewhere, so the verb is swim. The sentence The ducks love to swim says that Something loves something, so the verb is love. Every verb requires a subject, that is, what does the verb. In both sentences, the subject is ducks. A verb may also require an object, that is, what receives the verb. In The ducks love to swim, the object is to swim, because that is the thing that is loved. Example: When David approached third base, the coach waved him home. This sentence contains two related ideas, so it contains two clauses, and therefore two verbs: Clause 1: When David approached third base Verb: approached Subject: David Object: third base Clause 2: the coach waved him home Verb: waved Subject: the coach Object: him “third person singular” form—as in he spends—but people is plural, so the phrase should be people spend.
Tricky Plurals and Singulars
These rules will help you to check whether a verb agrees in “number” with its subject: Phrases like Sam and Bob are plural, but phrases like Sam, in addition to Bob, are singular. Phrases that start as well as . . . , together with . . . , along with . . . , or in addition to . . . are interrupters, which are not part of the main subject.
These words are singular: each, anyone, anybody, anything, another, neither, either, every, everyone, someone, no one, somebody, everything, little, and much. To check for SVD, you can replace any of them with it.
These words are plural: phenomena (singular: phenomenon), media (singular: medium), data (singular: datum), and criteria (singular: criterion). To check for SVD, you can replace any of them with they.
All of the following can be either singular or plural, according to the noun that follows the of: none (of), any (of), some (of), most (of), more (of), and all (of).
Subject-Verb Disagreement (SVD)
Every verb must agree in number (singular or plural) with its subject. Subject-verb disagreement is one of the most common errors tested for on the SAT. If you are a native speaker of English, the best way to check for subject-verb disagreement is to ﬁnd the subject and verb (ignoring all the intervening words) and say them together. Example: The people, who are easily persuaded by corporatesponsored media, spends very little time analyzing issues. The subject of the verb spends is people. But people spends sounds wrong, because spends is the
Verbs that follow subjects of the form either A or B and neither A nor B must agree with B, the noun closer to the verb.
Usually the subject comes before the verb, but inverted clauses have the subject after the verb. For instance, sentences that start There is . . . or There are . . . are inverted. To check subject-verb agreement in these sentences, ﬁrst “uninvert” them. Example: There are many ﬂies in the barn. (inverted) V S Many ﬂies are in the barn. (uninverted) S V
CHAPTER 15 / ESSENTIAL GRAMMAR SKILLS
Concept Review 1: Subject-Verb...
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