New SAT Writing and Language : Agreement

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for New SAT Writing and Language

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Example Questions

Example Question #101 : New Sat Writing And Language

There are two different ways to consider the so-called “Dark Ages.” On the one hand, you can think of the period directly after the fall of the Roman Empire, when civilization began to collapse throughout the Western Empire. On the other hand, you can consider the period that followed this initial collapse of society. It is a gross simplification too use the adjective dark to describe the civilization of either of these periods.

As regards the first period, it is quite a simplification to consider this period to be a single historical moment. It is not as though the civilization switched off like a lightbulb. At one moment light and then, at the next, dark. Instead, the decline of civilization occurred over a period of numerous decades and was, in fact, already occurring for many years before the so-called period of darkness. Thus, the decline of civilization was not a rapid collapse into barbarism, but instead, was a slow alteration of the cultural milieu of a partition of Europe. Indeed, the Eastern Roman Empire retained much of it’s cultural status during these years of decline!

More importantly, the period following the slow collapse of the Western Empire was much less “dark” than almost every popular telling states. Indeed, even during the period of decline, the seeds for cultural restoration was being sown. A key element of this cultural revival were the formation of monastic communities throughout the countryside of what we now know as Europe. Although these were not the only positive force during these centuries, the monasteries had played an important role in preserving and advancing the cause of culture through at least the thirteenth century and arguably until the Renaissance.

How should the underlined section be corrected?

Possible Answers:

Indeed, even during the period of decline the seeds for cultural restoration was being sown.

Indeed, even during the period of decline, the seeds for cultural restoration were being sown.

NO CHANGE

Indeed, even during the period of decline the seeds, for cultural restoration was being sown.

Indeed, even during the period of decline, the seeds, for cultural restoration were being sown.

Correct answer:

Indeed, even during the period of decline, the seeds for cultural restoration were being sown.

Explanation:

The issue with the sentence as written is the fact that its main verb does not match the number of the sentence's subject. The subject is "seeds." Think of a simple sentence to check the verb: "The seeds were . . ." If you were to say, "The seeds was," you would immediately be aware of the error! The intervening expression "for cultural restoration" can distract you if you are not careful. Now, no additional commas are necessary. The "for" is a preposition, not a conjunction.

Example Question #1 : Agreement

To be considered true niche constructors, however, earthworms must change the environment in such a way as to alter the evolution of another species. One of the easiest ways to measure this effect on evolution has been in the effect that the number of earthworms have on soil fertility, a measure of how hospitable an environment is to plant growth. Even the least fertile soil has around 62 worms per square meter, and as the number of worms increases so does soil fertility. As worms move through the different layers of soil, they eat, digest, and excrete massive amounts of organic matter. They leave their excretions behind in the form of nutrient-rich droppings known as casings. As these casings decompose, they release nutrients into the soil. is process not only moves nutrients from one layer of the soil to another but also converts the nutrients to forms that plants can absorb and process more easily.

Possible Answers:

it has on

can be to

NO CHANGE

 

has on

Correct answer:

has on

Explanation:

The error in the original sentence is one of subject-verb agreement.  The subject is “the number,” with “of earthworms” serving as a prepositional modifier that tells us more about the number.  So the correct phrasing should be “the effect that the number (of earthworms) has on soil fertility…” Note that this occurs often on the SAT, with the authors of these questions adding descriptions (often in the form of prepositional modifiers) that include nouns, making your job of determining which subject goes with the verb a difficult one.

"Has on" is therefore correct.  Among the other answer choices, "it has on" is incorrect because of the pronoun “it” between the subject, number of earthworms, and verb, has.  And "can be to" uses improper diction: something can have an effect on something else, but to say that “its effect can be to” is an improper sentence structure.

 

Example Question #1 : Agreement

The traditional view of archaeologists usually involves a college professor who spends much of his or her time digging and researching in ancient foreign libraries or a museum curator who works every day to preserve the artifacts the museum holds. While this view isn’t completely incorrect, it is incomplete, both in terms of the types of jobs available to archaeologists and in the types of work within those jobs. For example, college professors may spend summers at dig sites, but much of their time is also spent writing grants, teaching students, and writing about their research projects. Additionally, although there are still many people who work in archaeology as professors and museum curators, the demand for these jobs far outstrips the number of positions available, making the positions difficult to acquire.

Possible Answers:

worked

NO CHANGE

work

do work

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

This problem asks you to find the proper form of the verb “work,” and showcases a handful of important lessons.  For one, note that the verb “works” follows the relative pronoun “who” - this means that this verb applies specifically to the word that “who” is modifying, which is “curator.”  So while this sentence involves many nouns, the only one that matters here is “curator.” For that reason, the noun must be singular, eliminating choices "work" and "do work", which are plural.  

"Worked" is also incorrect, as the past tense implies that this curator in question has completed this work.  Note that everything else in the sentence is ongoing: the traditional view “involves,” the professor “spends.” Therefore to suggest that this one action is completed while the others are ongoing is illogical, making this incorrect.  The correct answer is "NO CHANGE", which uses a singular, ongoing verb “works.”

 

Example Question #4 : Agreement

Even today, lions can be seen ruling the African plains, hunting almost any animal that crosses its path and intimidating all but the most intrepid hunters.

Possible Answers:

lions are able to be seen ruling

lions can be seen ruling

lions rule

the lion rules

Correct answer:

the lion rules

Explanation:

In this example, we need to seek out relevant cues from outside the underlined portion of the sentence to identify what is needed out of the underline. Here, the singular vs. plural nature of the subject, lion vs. lions, is at question. If we continue to the latter portion of the sentence, we find the pronoun “its.” Since “its” refers back to the subject and is singular in nature, the subject, “the lion,” must also be singular. This leaves us with only “the lion rules,” our correct answer, as “lions can be seen ruling,” “lions are able to be seen ruling,” and “lions rule” all utilize the plural subject, “lions.”

Example Question #101 : New Sat Writing And Language

The damage caused by the series of storms was relatively minimal, but among the casualties were a cluster of farmhouses on the western outskirts of the town.

Possible Answers:

are

NO CHANGE

have been

was

Correct answer:

was

Explanation:

In this example, we are being tested on subject-verb agreement. In order to effectively eliminate wrong answers and arrive at the correct answer, we’ll need to determine the subject by addressing who or what “was/where/are/have been among the casualties. This case is particularly tricky, as it involves subject-verb inversion - where the subject comes after the verb. The subject of the sentence that is referred to as “among the casualties” is “a cluster.” We describe the cluster as “a cluster of farmhouses” to provide additional context, but the subject “a cluster” itself is singular, despite being accompanied by a plural noun in its modifying context. With this in mind, the only answer option that agrees with the singular subject “a cluster” is “was.” “Were,” “are,” and “have been” are all plural verbs that would require a plural subject.

Example Question #341 : New Sat

The quality of the new products that ACME Corporation has developed over the past year and that has recently arrived on retailers’ shelves worry many investors.

Possible Answers:

have recently arrived on retailers’ shelves worry

has recently arrived on retailers’ shelves worries

NO CHANGE

have recently arrived on retailers’ shelves worries

Correct answer:

have recently arrived on retailers’ shelves worries

Explanation:

In this example, we are being tested on subject-verb agreement. In order to effectively eliminate wrong answers and arrive at the correct answer, we’ll need to determine the subject by addressing who or what takes on each of our verbs: “have/has” at the start of our answer choices and “worry/worries” at the end. Using both logic and sentence structure, we can identify that what “have recently arrived on retailers’ shelves” are the products. So, the plural verb “have” is appropriate here, and we can eliminate all options that use the singular “has.”

From here, we’ll want to look to the subject taking on the verb “worry/worries.” If we read past or eliminate the modifying phrase “of the new products that ACME Corporation has developed over the past year and that [have] recently arrived on retailers’ shelves,” the core of the sentence reads “the quality worry.” Since quality is singular, the verb we need is “worries,” and we can eliminate any answer option that uses the plural “worry.” This leaves us with our correct answer: “have recently arrived on retailers’ shelves worries.”

 

Example Question #102 : New Sat Writing And Language

Each of the members of the board have at least ten years of experience working in nonprofit organizations.

Possible Answers:

have had

has

NO CHANGE

had

Correct answer:

has

Explanation:

In this example, we are being tested on subject-verb agreement. In order to effectively eliminate wrong answers and arrive at the correct answer, we’ll need to determine the subject by addressing who or what takes on the verb “have/has/have had/had.” If we break down the construction of the sentence, “of the members of the board” is a modifying phrase referring back to the singular noun, “each.” Since “each” is singular, we need singular agreement with our verb. Only “has” provides us with singular agreement, as all other options either use the plural “have” or seem to imply that each member had experience, but does not anymore, an illogical construction.

Example Question #342 : New Sat

The long-term effects of a high-sugar diet poses several consequences that should be considered when planning one’s trip to the grocery store.

Possible Answers:

has posed

has the potential to pose

pose

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

pose

Explanation:

In this example, we are being tested on subject-verb agreement. In order to effectively eliminate wrong answers and arrive at the correct answer, we’ll need to determine the subject by addressing who or what takes on the verb “pose/poses/has posed/has the potential to pose.” In this case, “of a high-sugar diet” is a modifying phrase. The core of the sentence reads “effects poses.” since “effects” are plural, we need the plural verb “pose.” Each of our incorrect answers incorrectly utilizes a singular verb in some form, which does not agree with the plural term “effects.”

Example Question #341 : New Sat

The number of applicants to top colleges and universities are increasing each year, even though there have been fewer high school graduates in each graduating class for the last seven years.

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

have been increasing

are continuing to increase

is increasing

Correct answer:

is increasing

Explanation:

In this example, we are being tested on subject-verb agreement. In order to effectively eliminate wrong answers and arrive at the correct answer, we’ll need to determine the subject by addressing who or what takes on the verb “are increasing,” or its alternative options. Here, “of applicants” and “to top colleges and universities” are both modifying phrases. The subject of the sentence taking on the verb is “the number.” Since “the number” is singular, we need singular agreement, and only the option “is increasing” provides us with this singular agreement. We can also use logic for much of this question. Is the sentence trying to say that the universities are physically getting bigger? That the applicants are physically growing? Since both of these constructions are illogical, logic can point us to the correct and logical subject “the number.”

Example Question #7 : Agreement

Australia is known not only for its diverse landscapes, but also for their unique and often dangerous indigenous species.

Possible Answers:

but also for its

but also because it has

NO CHANGE

also having

Correct answer:

but also for its

Explanation:

In this example, we are being tested on noun-pronoun agreement and parallelism. In order to effectively eliminate wrong answers and arrive at the correct answer, we’ll need to determine the subject by addressing who or what we’re referring to with the pronoun “its/their.” In this case, we have a powerful hint in the non-underlined portion - we already refer to Australia using the pronoun “its.” So, we can see that the collective noun, Australia, is singular. We also need to maintain parallel structure between what follows “not only” and what follows “but also.” Our correct answer, “but also for its” correctly refers to Australia using the singular possessive pronoun “its,” and introduces the phrase that follows the “but also” with the preposition “for” followed by the possessive pronoun and the object of possession - the same structure that follows the “not only” in the sentence.

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