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Subject Verb Agreement

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Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart is one of the first and one of the most famous English works written by an African author. Achebe skillfully portrays his native Ibo culture as one full of rich history and traditions, though the main character is eventually destroyed by his stubborn determination to hold onto the culture he knew as a boy. This book could be used in an essay about culture clashes, colonialism, masculinity, or a host of other topics. 

4/17 Identifying Sentence Errors

The following sentence contains either a single error or no error at all. If the sentence contains an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct. If the sentence contains no error, select choice E. 

First, read the sentence to see whether anything sounds wrong. If something sounds "off" or strange, check it against the rules of standard written English. If the answer choice you predicted is breaking the rules, it is the correct answer.

Although the number of books written in African languages are growing, many African writers find a larger audience for works written in Portuguese or English. No error


Does anything sound strange? If not, start with A.

A) "written in" is a participle introducing the participial phrase "written in African languages." The phrase modifies the noun "books." Since it is modifying a noun and placed immediately next to that noun, the participle is used correctly.

B) "are growing" is the main verb phrase of the dependent clause. Check both subject-verb agreement and verb tense. Since you already have the verb, look for the subject. What are growing? "African languages" is closest to the verb, but obviously the languages aren't growing. The next noun back is "books," but books don't grow either. Move closer to the beginning of the sentence. The only noun left is "number," and it makes perfect sense for the number of books in a category to grow. Now that you have the subject, check whether the subject agrees with the verb. "The number... are growing." That does not match because "the number of" is always singular. ("A number of," meaning several, is plural.) B might be the correct answer.

C) "find" is the main verb of the sentence. It is plural, and it matches its subject, "African writers." It is also in present tense, which matches the tense of "are growing." It is used correctly.

D) "for works" is a prepositional phrase that modifies the noun "audience." It is used correctly.

The answer is B.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 42% of responses were correct.