ACT English : Agreement Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Pronoun Antecedent Agreement Errors

Jimmy is annoyed at the video game that he was playing. For one thing, there was not nearly enough interesting characters suspenseful moments or exciting escapes in the game to satisfy him. For another, it was incredibly hard while playing the game to control the cars. It always wanted to veer to the left when he tried to steer to the right. But the ending of the game was worst. By the time he got to the end, the hero had decided to stop chasing rogue spies and therefore marry his girlfriend, a surprise attack resulted in her being kidnapped, and the hero must go on a final mission to save her before the game can be completed. That would of been fine, except it involved tracking the enemy using a helicopter, and Jimmy much to his chagrin never mastered flying the helicopter.

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

Possible Answers:

The game

They

Jimmy

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

They

Explanation:

The previous sentence makes it clear that it is the cars that Jimmy cannot control. "Cars" is a plural noun, so the pronoun should be changed to the plural "they."

Example Question #51 : Act English

Jimmy is annoyed at the video game that he was playing. For one thing, there was not nearly enough interesting characters suspenseful moments or exciting escapes in the game to satisfy him. For another, it was incredibly hard while playing the game to control the cars. It always wanted to veer to the left when he tried to steer to the right. But the ending of the game was worst. By the time he got to the end, the hero had decided to stop chasing rogue spies and therefore marry his girlfriend, a surprise attack resulted in her being kidnapped, and the hero must go on a final mission to save her before the game can be completed. That would of been fine, except it involved tracking the enemy using a helicopter, and Jimmy much to his chagrin never mastered flying the helicopter.

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

Possible Answers:

thus

consequently

NO CHANGE

OMIT the bolded and underlined selection.

Correct answer:

OMIT the bolded and underlined selection.

Explanation:

The hero's action of deciding to stop chasing rogue spies does not entail his marrying his girlfriend; he could have simply decided he needed a career change. Since there is no causal connection between the two actions, it is incorrect to use a conjunction like "therefore," "consequently," or "thus," and the conjunction should simply be omitted from the sentence: "the hero had decided to stop chasing rogue spies and marry his girlfriend."

Example Question #1 : Subject Verb Agreement Errors

Jimmy is annoyed at the video game that he was playing. For one thing, there was not nearly enough interesting characters suspenseful moments or exciting escapes in the game to satisfy him. For another, it was incredibly hard while playing the game to control the cars. It always wanted to veer to the left when he tried to steer to the right. But the ending of the game was worst. By the time he got to the end, the hero had decided to stop chasing rogue spies and therefore marry his girlfriend, a surprise attack resulted in her being kidnapped, and the hero must go on a final mission to save her before the game can be completed. That would of been fine, except it involved tracking the enemy using a helicopter, and Jimmy much to his chagrin never mastered flying the helicopter.

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

Possible Answers:

there had been not nearly enough

there were not nearly enough

there is not nearly enough

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

there were not nearly enough

Explanation:

The verb in this phrase needs to agree with the phrase that follows it, which is a list of plural nouns; thus, the phrase "there were not nearly enough" is most appropriate.

Example Question #2 : Subject Verb Agreement Errors

The common goose is one type of bird that flies south for the winter.

Possible Answers:

birds that flies

NO CHANGE

birds that are flying

birds that fly

bird that fly

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

The original word choice is the only noun-verb pairing that correctly pairs the singular "type" with the underlined portion. Remember: all connected nouns in a name or clause must match, either singular or plural.

Example Question #1 : Subject Verb Agreement Errors

Make any necessary changes to the underlined word or phrase in the sentence.

The entire cast from her favorite television show, except the actress who plays the main character, were present at the event.

Possible Answers:

was present

had been present

is present

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

was present

Explanation:

A television "cast" is singular, so “was” matches the singular noun. All other options change the tense.

Example Question #2 : Subject Verb Agreement Errors

One of the most popular programs of all those featured on the Internet (1) is a video clip show.  The format of the show is simple, each (2) week the host, a short but attractive New York native named John Jackson introduces (3) a set of three video clips from all over the Internet.  These clips shows (4) people hurting themselves in accidents, getting into crazy situations, interacting stupidly with animals, and et cetera. (5) Jackson introduces each clip comically and often comments on the action with animations where (6) he makes fun of the people in the videos.  While the videos are often funny, there is definitely an element of schadenfreude involved in watching these clips.  Schadenfreude is a German word for "the pleasure one takes at seeing the suffering of others".  (7) Jacksons (8) show are (9) not far removed from popular TV programs like (10) The U.S. Laughs at You there is also a version of which (11) on the Internet.  It is an open question whether laughing at these videos is a harmless activity or it causes harm to us. (12)

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number.  If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

These clips showing

NO CHANGE

These clips show

Those clips shows

Correct answer:

These clips show

Explanation:

The error is subject-verb agreement, so the correct answer should be "these clips show."

Example Question #4 : Agreement Errors

One of the most popular programs of all those featured on the Internet (1) is a video clip show.  The format of the show is simple, each (2) week the host, a short but attractive New York native named John Jackson introduces (3) a set of three video clips from all over the Internet.  These clips shows (4) people hurting themselves in accidents, getting into crazy situations, interacting stupidly with animals, and et cetera. (5) Jackson introduces each clip comically and often comments on the action with animations where (6) he makes fun of the people in the videos.  While the videos are often funny, there is definitely an element of schadenfreude involved in watching these clips.  Schadenfreude is a German word for "the pleasure one takes at seeing the suffering of others".  (7) Jacksons (8) show are (9) not far removed from popular TV programs like (10) The U.S. Laughs at You there is also a version of which (11) on the Internet.  It is an open question whether laughing at these videos is a harmless activity or it causes harm to us. (12)

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number.  If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

shows is

shows are

show is

Correct answer:

show is

Explanation:

Johnson has only one show with several episodes, and thus the error is a subject-verb agreement problem that can only be fixed with "show is."

Example Question #1 : Simple Subject Errors

Many people watch football however (1) some do not. With (2) those who do not watch this sport (3) football is an incomprehensible pastime. Non football (4) fans cannot understand what is so exciting about watching two packs of grown men running away or toward each other, while (5) clinging for dear life to a piece of pigskin. It also makes from little to no sense (6) why those whom (7) play the sport gets (8) paid the exorbitant amounts that they do, even though he is (9) in effect doing the same thing that high school and college students do on a daily bases (10). But as the French would say, "Chacun à son goût" (11) though its (12) highly doubtful that most football fans (or even people who are not fans) would know what that means.

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number. If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

get

have gotten

has gotten

Correct answer:

get

Explanation:

The verb should be conjugated to agree with the plural "those" and should remain in present tense, so "get" is the most appropriate answer.

Example Question #1 : Simple Subject Errors

The student the hand of whom was up (1) gave the wrong answer. She was asked what was a substantive adjective (2), and she answered that a substantive adjective is one that describe (3) a substance. "No!" (4) the teacher barked. "A substantive adjective takes the place of a noun in a sentence, as when someone talks about the rich and the poor (5). Did you learn nothing in this class?" He then asked what a superlative adjective was, to which she replied (6) that a superlative adjective was one that took the place of a noun in a sentence. "But thats (7) what I just said," the teacher screamed! (8) The student had said (9) that she had heard him, therefore (10) she answered his question. "You answered my question previously, (11)" he bellowed, "not the last one!" "Ah, you mean the latest one," the student replied, the moment at which (12) the teacher turned to the wall and started beating his head against it.

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number. If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

one that describes

ones that describe

those that describe

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

one that describes

Explanation:

The phrase "one that describes" is the only one that maintains the correct subject-verb agreement and also agrees with the rest of the sentence.

Example Question #1 : Subject Verb Agreement Errors

Adapted from Sozein ta Phainomena: An Essay Concerning Physical Theory from Plato to Galileo by Pierre Duhem (translated by Matthew Minerd)

What are physical theories’ value? What relation does it have with metaphysical explication? These are questions that are greatly stirred and raised in our days. However, as with other questions, they are in no manner completely new. It is a question that has been posed in all ages. As long as there has been a science of nature, they have been posed. Granted, the form that they assume changes somewhat from one age to another, for they borrow their various appearance from the scientific vocabularies of their times. Nevertheless, one need only dismiss this outer vestment in order to recognize that they remain essentially identical to each other.

The science of nature offers us up until the 17th century at least, very few parties that managed to create theories expressed in a mathematical language. . . . If we leave aside several exceptions, an historical investigation places before our eyes strong evidence of a type science that would indeed be a prediction of modern mathematical physics. This science is astronomy. That is, where we would say, “Physical theory,” the Greek, Muslim, Medieval, and early Renaissance sages would say, “Astronomy.” However, for these earlier thinkers, the other parts of the study of nature did not attain a similar degree of perfection. That is, they did not express the laws of experience in a mathematical manner similar to that found in astronomy. In addition, during this time, the study of the material realities generally were not separated from what we would call today, “metaphysics.”

Thus, you can see why the question that concerns us takes two related, though different forms. Today, we ask, “What are the relations between metaphysics and physical theory?” However, in past days; indeed, for nearly two thousand years; it was formulated instead as, “What are the relations between physics and astronomy?”

What is the best form of the underlined selection, “during this time, the study of the material realities generally were not separated”?

Possible Answers:

during this time, the study of the material realities generally was not separated

during this time, the study of the material realities generally is not separated

NO CHANGE

during this time the study of the material realities generally were not separated

Correct answer:

during this time, the study of the material realities generally was not separated

Explanation:

The primary issue with the sentence, as written, is that the subject and verb do not agree in number. The main clause of the sentence reads: "The study . . . were . . ." The prepositional phrase "of the material realities" modifies the subject—"study"—which is singular. The tense must remain in the past, so the best option is the one that alters the verb to be singluar while remaining in the past—i.e. "was."

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