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Subject-Verb Agreement

1. In English, the norms of subject-verb agreement apply only to five of the tenses. These are the Present Simple, Present Continuous, Present Perfect Simple, Present Perfect Continuous, and Past Continuous. They also apply to the Past Simple of the verb TO BE. 

2. Thus, if a subject is singular, the verb is singular. If the subject is plural, the verb is plural. This very simple norm is basic in the GMAT, because almost all examples in Sentence Correction are written in the third person - either singular or plural.

3. Nevertheless, the simple norm starts to look a lot more complex once one goes into the matter a little more. For example, is the pronoun NONE singular or plural? In which cases can the pronoun ALL be singular and in which plural? Is the subject BACON AND EGGS singular or plural? And what about the game of DARTS and the NEWS that we listen to on the radio and the DIABETES that some people suffer or the TROUSERS that we wear: are these nouns singular or plural? ARE GYMNASTICS a complete sport, or IS GYMNASTICS a complete sport? And THREE QUARTERS: does this term go with a singular or a plural verb? Are there cases in which HALF could be singular and others in which it could be plural? And A MAJORITY and A MINORITY: singular or plural? And EACH - always singular, or sometimes one and sometimes the other? What about if we mention THE CHINESE or THE ENGLISH or THE UNFORTUNATE: do these subjects require singular or plural verbs?

4. These are only some of the dilemmas posed by the matter of subject-verb agreement, which is one of those that appear most often in the GMAT. In order to begin to understand the problem, you need to be clear about the ways in which singular subjects can become plural.

5. One of the two most common ways of making plural subjects is to add S or ES to a singular noun: thus, bicycle-bicycleS, and dish-dishES

6. There are other changes and inflections that can make a singular noun plural, such as [ ... ]

7. Subjects can also become plural by conjoining a noun with a noun, a noun with a pronoun, or a pronoun with a pronoun. The way to do this is [ ... ]

 

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