SAT Study Guide/Part 4 - The Writing Section/Identifying Sentence Errors/Identify the correct subject

Identify the correct subjectEdit

Problems often arise when test takers mistake another word as the subject of the sentence. Both of the following questions feature errors with a mistaken subject.

1) His understanding of the project requirements are what guaranteed him the job.
2) The reforms to the election process, despite the popular opposition, was carried out.

In example 1, the subject His understanding of the project requirements is singular. He only has one understanding and this understanding encompasses all the project requirements. The subject is not the plural project requirements because the project requirements didn't guarantee him the job, it was his understanding. To correct this sentence, change ..are what.. to ...is what....

In example 2, the subject reforms to the election process is a plural subject but the verb was is singular. "He was tired" is grammatically correct but "They was tired" is incorrect . To correct this sentence was to were. Were is the plural form of the verb to be. "They were tired" is grammatically correct.

Try these two on your own:

1)The problems created by a faulty engine is fatal.
2)The wildfire near Athens, which has been burning all day, are expected to be put out within the hour.


Answers

1) The problems created by a faulty engine are fatal.
problems is plural and is is a singular verb. "He is tired." is correct but "They is tired" is incorrect. This should be "They are tired."

2) The wildfire near Athens, which has been burning all day, is expected to be put out within the hour.
wildfire near Athens is singular and needs a singular verb to agree with it


The subject of a sentence is not affected by phrases like

  • along with
  • in addition to
  • as well as
  • including

These phrases act more like adjectives. While the subject Jack and Jim were at home has a plural subject, Jack, along with Jim, was at home. has a singular subject. The subject is still Jack but the sentence also gives us the extra information that Jim is also home. This second sentence is centered around Jack and Jim's status is only an afterthought. Take at look at this example:

One of his cars, along with 3 other motorcycles, are in the shop

One of his cars is the singular subject in this sentence. The 3 other motorcycles are just afterthoughts and is extra information. Think of this sentence as "One of his cars are in the shop". This sounds wrong. One of his cars is singular and are is a plural verb. We correct this sentence by changing the are into is.

Try these examples:

1) The President, as well as members of congress, make laws.
2) The brunt of the effects of war, including poverty and fatality, are bore by civilians.
3) Infectious diseases, including malaria and syphilis, continues to plague mankind.

Answers

1) The President, as well as members of congress, makes laws.
The President is a singular subject so it needs the singular makes to agree. Think of this sentence as "The President makes laws."

2)The brunt of the effects of war, including poverty and fatality, is bore by civilians.
brunt of the effects is our singular subject. and it needs a singular verb to go along with it.

3)Infectious diseases, including malaria and syphilis, continue to plague mankind.
Infectious diseases is plural and therefore needs a plural verb

Last modified on 27 August 2009, at 20:53