ACT English : Subject-Verb Agreement Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

Example Question #31 : Subject Verb Agreement Errors

When the patent on Alexander Graham Bell’s revolutionary invention, the telephone, expired in 1894 thousands of new firms entered the telecommunication industry. Among them were a collection of profitable companies that merged to form what would later become known as The Bell System. The Bell System had amassed such weight in the industry that in 1933, when Congress passed a law declaring phone service a public utility, the Bell System quickly transformed into a monopoly. Lawmakers enthusiastic supported a series of provisions intended to stimulate competition. Appointed as the nation’s sole provider of telecommunication services, widespread criticism about the Bell System began to surface. 

The Federal Communications Act has so far been highly effective and the industry has grown tremendously as a result. In fact, for the past three years, the profitability of the largest three telecommunication companies has been greater than the largest three automotive companies. The number of calls provided by the top three companies range from five billion to six billion per day. Today, virtually everyone has made a phone call over the course of their lives. Most people do not know, however, that payment for swaths of electromagnetic wavelengths have become commonplace.

One explanation for such high call volume and large profits is that calls are becoming much less expensive for companies to provide, regardless for many large fixed expenses such as communication towers, base stations, and paying for utility poles. Over the last century, telephones had become an important part of modern society. In fact, the cost of delivering one telephone call today is about a thousandth of the cost in the 1950s. The increasing affordability and abundance of phone calls mark the progress made since the time of Alexander Graham Bell and the Bell System.

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the passage. If the bolded portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

will be

exist

was

are

Correct answer:

was

Explanation:

The subject of the predicate "were" in the sentence is "collection," a singular nouns phrase. We need its predicate to be in singular form as well for proper verb-noun agreement. The only answer choice that is in singular form is "was," so "was" is the correct answer. Each of the other answer choices—"were," "are," and "exist"—are in plural form, and are therefore incorrect.

Example Question #32 : Subject Verb Agreement Errors

Choose the answer that best corrects the underlined portion of the sentence. If the underlined portion is correct as written, choose "NO CHANGE."

The number of students chosen for the community service award have more than doubled in the past fifteen years.

Possible Answers:

has been more than doubling

NO CHANGE

were doubled

have been more than doubling

has more than doubled

Correct answer:

has more than doubled

Explanation:

The underlined portion of this sentence is referring to "the number of students," a single subject—"students" is not the subject that needs to match the verb in number; it is the object of the preposition "of." The subject is "number." Try taking out all the extra information between the subject ("number") and the verb phrase ("have more than doubled"), and you will be able to see more clearly that the singular "has" is needed in this case. If you take out this information, the sentence reads, "The number have more than doubled," which is incorrect. There is no need for the "has been doubling" in the sentence as there is no reason to switch to a tense other than the present perfect.

Example Question #33 : Subject Verb Agreement Errors

Select the correct form of the underlined portion of the sentence. If it is correct as it is, select "NO CHANGE." 

The trial is at a standstill because the jury are sharply divided over the case.

Possible Answers:

the jury is sharply divided

the jury will be sharply divided

the jury were sharply divided

NO CHANGE

the jury are being sharply divided

Correct answer:

the jury is sharply divided

Explanation:

With a collective noun like "jury," if the group or collective is all acting in a unified way it takes the singular "is" instead of the plural "are." Here, the entire "jury" is "being sharply divided," so "is" is the correct verb to use.

Example Question #4 : Correcting Subject Verb Agreement Errors

The boy, among many friends, celebrate his birthday in lavish style.

Possible Answers:

having been celebrated

is celibrant

is celebrated

celebrate

celebrates

Correct answer:

celebrates

Explanation:

The subject of the sentence is singular, "the boy," and not the plural "many friends," meaning the verb needs to be singular as well. Additionally, the sentence must keep the same meaning, that they boy is doing the celebrating. "Celebrates" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #5 : Correcting Subject Verb Agreement Errors

Autocratic styles of leadership frequently annoys the people who must work under such leaders.

Possible Answers:

frequently annoys

frequently annoy

frequent annoys

frequented annoying

frequent annoy

Correct answer:

frequently annoy

Explanation:

The verb "annoy" is used with the subject "styles," although the prepositional phrase "of leadership" and the adverb "frequently" come between the two words. Therefore, the verb form must take a plural form to match the subject. "Styles...frequently annoy" is the correct answer form.

Example Question #6 : Correcting Subject Verb Agreement Errors

Every one of the new coaches face serious troubles with their teams.

Possible Answers:

the new coach face

the new coaches faces

the new coaches face

the new coach faces

new coaches face

Correct answer:

the new coaches faces

Explanation:

The verb in the sentence, written in the underlined portion as "face," must actually be in the singular form "faces." The subject of the sentence is "every," which is actually a singular form, even though the verb sits next to "new coaches." "The new coaches faces" is the correct answer.

Example Question #7 : Correcting Subject Verb Agreement Errors

One of the boys are coming over to help build the model car.

Possible Answers:

One boy comes over

One of the boys is came over

One of the boys is coming over

One of the boys are came over

One of the boys are coming over

Correct answer:

One of the boys is coming over

Explanation:

The problem with the sentence is that the verb "are" is a plural form, but is matched with "One," a singular noun, even though "boys" is the closest word to the verb in the sentence. The correct answer is "One of the boys is coming over."

Example Question #1 : Correcting Subject Verb Agreement Errors

There is no players in the league who would be comfortable in such a situation.

Possible Answers:

There are no players

There's no players

There is no players

They're no players

There is not players

Correct answer:

There are no players

Explanation:

The underlined phrase has an incorrect use of the verb "is," as the subject, "players," is a plural form. The verb needs to be similarly plural. "There are no players" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #9 : Correcting Subject Verb Agreement Errors

The youngest girl among the students have dark hair.

Possible Answers:

have dark hairs.

has dark hair.

have dark hair.

have darker hair.

has darkest hairs.

Correct answer:

has dark hair.

Explanation:

The subject of the sentence is "youngest girl," a singular noun. Although the verb is next to the plural "students," a plural, the verb form must be a singular verb. Additionally, a superlative need a comparison to be used appropriately, making "has dark hair" the correct answer choice.

Example Question #10 : Correcting Subject Verb Agreement Errors

Every night for five straight nights were well below freezing.

Possible Answers:

Every night for five straight nights was well below freezing.

Every night for five nights straight were well below freezing.

Each of the nights for five straight nights were well below freezing.

Each night for five straight nights were well below freezing.

Every night for five straight nights were well below freezing.

Correct answer:

Every night for five straight nights was well below freezing.

Explanation:

The issue with the sentence as it is written is that the subject of the sentence, "every night," is singular, but the verb "were" is plural. The subject and the verb must agree. The correct answer is "Every night for five straight nights was well below freezing."

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