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Subject-Verb Agreement

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The Map as History is a collection of animated maps. Use them to help you remember interesting details about your five historical examples!

3/27 Improving Sentences

Part of the following sentence is underlined; beneath the sentence are five ways of phrasing the underlined material. Select the option that produces the best sentence. If you think the original phrasing produces a better sentence than any of the alternatives, select choice A.

When you take the SAT, remember to ignore choice A on questions like this. You will have already read the sentence and made a prediction about how to correct it. When you look at the answer choices, starting with E is a good idea because it keeps you from getting distracted by A. 

Reading maps involve several abilities, including the ability to locate places, to ascertain directions, to measure distances, and to interpret the mapmaker's symbols. 

"Involve" may sound correct here because it is next to the plural noun "maps," but "maps" is not the subject of the sentence. To find the subject of any sentence, first identify the verb by asking "What happens in this sentence?" Then put the word "what" before the verb. "What involves?" Obviously, "reading involves." "Reading" is a gerund--a verb acting like a noun--in this sentence, and in fact the gerund phrase "reading maps" is the subject. Another benefit to the "What verbs?" trick is that it puts the subject and the verb right next to each other, often fixing subject-verb agreement problems almost unconsciously. Now that you have a prediction--"involves"--look at the answer choices.

A) involve

B) involves

C) will involve

D) has involved

E) have involved

D and E are both past tense, and C is future tense. The sentence is in present tense, so you can eliminate all three of those options. B is the answer. 


At sat.collegeboard.org, 73% of responses were correct. 


For more help with grammar, visit www.myknowsys.com!