Another way these tests like to quiz you is with sentences containing errors in subject-verb agreement. Those are errors in which the subject of the sentence doesn't fit with the verb of the sentence. Here's an example:
John and Simone walks to class.
In this sentence you have two subjects, John and Simone. That means you need a verb that fits with a plural subject. The correct version would be:
John and Simone walk to class.
Sometimes the test writers will try to trip you up with a tricky subject, like this one:
Either John or Simone walk to class.
Now this sentence has a singular subject, because the sentence isn't referring to both John and Simone, it's referring to one or the other. In this case the correct verb should be 'walks'.
Don't let them trip you up by inserting extra words between the subject and the verb. Check out this example:
You have a singular subject, Francine, so you need a verb that goes with a singular subject. The corrected version would be:
Francine, along with her coworkers, was late for the company picnic.
Other Issues with Agreement:
There are a couple of other tricky subject-verb agreement situations that appear on tests. Here are three tips to help you.
- When you have several names in the subject that are connected with the word 'and', use the plural verb.
Simone, Francine, and John love to talk about their jobs. (You have three subjects joined with 'and' so you need a plural form of the verb.)
- When you have several names in the subject that are connected with the word neither, use the tense that goes with the subject closest to the verb.
Neither Simone, Francine, nor John loves to talk about their jobs. (John is the subject closest to the verb, so the verb should agree with John)
Neither Simone nor her friends love to talk about their jobs. (In this one 'her friends' is closest to the verb, so it needs to agree with that subject.)
- Most collective nouns take a singular verb. Think of it this way: the whole collection acts as one entity.
The audience laughs at his jokes.
In this case you should use a singular verb to go with the collective noun, 'audience', that is the subject of the sentence.