Answers: Subject-verb agreement 01

May 20, 2013 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: exercises, teaching journalism.

Subject-verb agreement exercise 01

1. None of the members of the first team are playing in the fourth quarter.

Words such as none, anyone, everybody, each, either, neither and one are singular when used as subjects in a sentence. In this case, none is the subject of the sentence, not members. The verb “are” is incorrect; it should be “is.”

2. The family was gathering from around the country for the funeral.

The noun family is a collective noun. Collective nouns refer to a group of things or people as a unit. Some other examples of such words are class, committee, team, number, majority, group, herd and jury. When these words are used as subjects and denote the unit as a whole, they are singular and take singular verbs.

3. Today’s news media is generally considered to be politically liberal.

Some words retain their Latin origins. “Media” is such a word. “Data” is another word of this kind. Although they are often used as singular nouns, they are plural and should be used with plural verbs. “Media” is plural for “medium,” and the verb should be “are” rather than “is.”

4. Rachel, despite everyone’s best efforts, was not able to pass the test.

The subject of the sentence is Rachel, not efforts. The verb is correct.

5. Present at the ceremoney was the big league pitcher Mike O’Kelley and his brother Robert.

This sentence has a compound subject – Mike O’Kelley and Robert. Compound subjects joined by the conjunction “and” usually take plural verbs. The verb should be “were” rather than “was.” Don’t be fooled by the fact that the subject comes after the verb rather than before it.

6. Thelma and Louise, the movie, make some telling points about women in our society.

Titles of books, movies and other works should be treated as singular nouns even though they may be plural in form. In this case Thelma and Louise is the title of the move and should be treated as a singular noun. The verb should be “makes” instead of “make.”

7. Everyone, even the smartest ones among us, has a bad day now and then.

Words such as everyone, none, anyone, everybody, each, either, neiher and one are singular when used as subjects in a sentence. Don’t be fooled by the plural nouns in the parenthetical phrase that follows the subject.

8. Either her doctor or her lawyer has a standing appointment to visit her every morning.

Compound subjects joined by the conjunction “or” or in the constructions “either . . . or” and “neither . . . nor” usually take singular verbs.

9. “Ty Cobb plays baseball with fire in his belly,” one of his contemporaries said.

“Ty Cobb” is a singular subject and properly takes a singular subject – in this instance, “plays.”

10. Both Mary and Joan play the piano with ease and grace.

This sentence has a compound subject that is joined by the conjunction “and.” The subject thus requires a plural verb.

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