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Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

You probably already heard about the meteor that landed in Russia.  Take a moment to review the relevant facts here.  Then think about how you can use an event that everyone is already talking about as an excellent current event example on the SAT essay.  Think about broad themes that relate to this topic, such as technology, preparation and planning, fear, organized responses, sudden change, and many more.

Writing: Improving Sentences

Part or all 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.  

Read the entire original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then evaluate the underlined portion of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find to quickly eliminate wrong answer choices.

Since William the Conqueror in 1066, every British sovereign has been crowned in Westminster Abbey except Edward V and Edward VIII, neither of them were crowned.

The underlined portion of this sentence contains the word “neither,” a word that should prompt you to check subject and verb agreement.  There are two people involved in this sentence, but is the subject plural?  This sentence is saying that neither one king nor the other king was crowned in the aforementioned place.  Notice the verb “were”!  You cannot have the plural verb “were” in this sentence; you must use “was.”  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) neither of them were
(B) neither were
(C) neither of whom was
(D) with neither being
(E) with neither who had been

(A)  Eliminate this choice without reading it because it matches the original sentence.

(B)  This answer choice does not fix the subject and verb agreement error that you found.  Eliminate it.

(C)  This one fixes the first error that you found.  Before you assume that it is correct, notice that it also changes the pronoun “them” to “whom.”  Check to make sure the “whom” is okay.  You are talking about a person using a singular verb, so the plural pronoun “them” was already suspect.  Your Knowsys book spends a lot of time on choosing between “who” and “whom,” but one of the rules that you learn is that you must always use “whom” after a preposition.  The word “of” is a preposition, so “whom” is correct.  Quickly check the other answer choices.

(D)  You should always avoid choices using the word “being” because it implies an ongoing action.  The two crownings that did not happen were in the past.  Eliminate this answer choice.

(E) This choice is unnecessarily complex and wordy.  Like the choice before it, it incorrectly uses the word “with,” which generally means “accompanied by” or “characterized by,” neither of which makes sense in this context.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 53% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT writing, visit www.myknowsys.com!