Subject-Verb Agreement Exercise (345)

Edit the following sentences to correct any errors of subject-verb agreement.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: The Chicago native and prize-winning scientist was killed in a plane crash.
Correct : The Chicago native and prize-winning scientist was killed in a plane crash.

The sentence was originally correct, but the subject could be misconstrued as referring to two people instead of one. It would be clearer to treat part of the subject as an appositive: "The prize-winning scientist, a Chicago native, crashed the SUV into the side of a church."

2.
Original: Neither George Clooney nor Meryl Streep were there.
Correct : Neither George Clooney nor Meryl Streep was there.

In an either...or, neither...nor construction, the verb will be singular because the words either and neither are singular.

3.
Original: His pedantry, as well as his lack of academic qualifications, prevent him from functioning well as a school principal.
Correct : His pedantry, as well as his lack of academic qualifications, prevents him from functioning well as a school principal.

Parenthetical phrases such as "together with" and "as well as" do not affect a singular subject. "His pedantry" is singular, so the verb must be singular: prevents.

4.
Original: Forty bushels of beans are certainly enough to feed this small group.
Correct : Forty bushels of beans is certainly enough to feed this small group.

In American usage, when a numerical phrase refers to an amount, distance, fraction, or percentage, it is treated as singular. For example, "Twenty miles is not too far to go for a concert."

5.
Original: One out of every three American children are overweight or obese.
Correct : One out of every three American children is overweight or obese.

In a "one out of so many" construction, the verb will agree with singular "one."

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