SAT Writing : Identifying Agreement Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Identifying Sentence Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all. 

The recent discovery of the short films and the personal diary of the renowned inventor allow historians to appreciate his genius even more. No error

Possible Answers:

and

allow

of the renowned inventor

even more

No error

Correct answer:

allow

Explanation:

This sentence features an error of subject-verb agreement. The subject of this sentence is singular: "the recent discovery," though the following elaboration of short films and a personal diary can be misleading they do not change the grammatical subject of the sentence. Therefore the verb should be "allows."

Example Question #2 : Identifying Sentence Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Looking down from the summit, Stacy's friends' faces were blurry as they smiled up at her. No error

Possible Answers:

at her

friends'

Looking down

were

No error

Correct answer:

Looking down

Explanation:

"Looking down" is the correct answer. 

The subject of the main clause (after the comma) is "faces" (particularly "Stacy's friends' faces"), which cannot logically be the subject of the first clause. This disagreement creates a dangling clause. It must be the subject (of the whole sentence) who is "looking down," but one can infer that it is Stacy who is at the summit, because her "friends' faces" "smiled up at her."

Example Question #1 : Identifying Sentence Errors

While I appreciate your efforts to ensure that the event runs smoothly, it is interfering with my ability to give the artists the flexibility they require.

Possible Answers:

interfering with

to ensure that

No error

it is

they

Correct answer:

it is

Explanation:

In this sentence, the pronoun “it” does not agree in number with its antecedent “efforts.” The corrected sentence reads: While I appreciate your efforts to ensure that the event runs smoothly, they are interfering with my ability to give the artists the flexibility they require.

Example Question #1 : Identifying Sentence Errors

The buzzing noises emitting from the alarm clock makes me cringe every time that I hear them.

Possible Answers:

No error

emitting from

them

every time

makes

Correct answer:

makes

Explanation:

This sentence has a problem with subject-verb agreement. The verb “makes” does not agree with the plural subject “noises.” The corrected sentence reads: The buzzing noises emitting from the alarm clock make me cringe every time that I hear them.

Example Question #1 : Identifying Subject Verb Agreement Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

My favorite history professor, as well as some of his administrative staff, were asked to resign because fewer students were taking history courses than ever before. No error

Possible Answers:

than 

because

were

No error

as well as

Correct answer:

were

Explanation:

In this sentence, the verb does not agree with the subject. The subject "professor" is singular (“as well as some of the administrative staff” is a modifying phrase and doesn’t count), so the correct verb form should be “was,” not “were.”

Example Question #2 : Identifying Subject Verb Agreement Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Stephanie claims that she wants to attend college after graduation, but her poor attitude about studying during senior year do not indicate that she enjoys being a student. No error

Possible Answers:

wants

No error

studying

do not indicate

to attend

Correct answer:

do not indicate

Explanation:

"Her poor attitude about studying" is the subject of this clause, so the verb must agree with the singular subject "attitude." Therefore, the correct verb should be "does"—her attitude "does not indicate."

Example Question #3 : Identifying Subject Verb Agreement Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

James is a proactive police officer, so although the local rebellious teenagers are annoyed by his strict nature, the overall safety of the town have improved drastically since he was hired. No error

Possible Answers:

are annoyed

so although

strict nature

No error

have improved 

Correct answer:

have improved 

Explanation:

This is an issue of subject-verb agreement within this independent clause: "the overall safety of the town have improved drastically since he was hired." Simplified, the subject is "safety," which is a singular noun, so the verb must also be singular, making "have improved" incorrect and "has improved" the corrected verb.

Example Question #1 : Identifying Subject Verb Agreement Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

A pair of supportive shoes are important if you are experiencing lower back pain. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

are experiencing

are

supportive

you

Correct answer:

are

Explanation:

The verb "are" agrees with a plural subject, but the subject of this sentence is the singular "pair." Changing "are" to "is" corrects the sentence's error. The corrected sentence reads, "A pair of supportive shoes is important if you are experiencing lower back pain."

Example Question #1 : Identifying Subject Verb Agreement Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

The paralegal believed that there were an overload of cases in the office, which was creating stress. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

that

of cases in the office

which

were

Correct answer:

were

Explanation:

The verb "were," which is used with plural nouns, corresponds to "overload," which is a singular noun. Therefore, the verb should be "was," to match the singular noun, instead of "were."

Example Question #2 : Identifying Subject Verb Agreement Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Shana, Joe, and Marcel was incredible in each of their performances and the audience rewarded them through cheers and applause. No error

Possible Answers:

through

No error

and

was

their

Correct answer:

was

Explanation:

Shana, Joe, and Marcel are three nouns grouped together (as indicated by the "and"), and thus are effectively a plural noun. "Was" is used in reference to a singular subject; in this sentence, "was" should be "were" (e.g. "Shana, Joe, and Marcel were incredible . . .").

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