PDC Test - Subject-Verb Agreement
You can earn 0.25 PDC by passing the exam following this article, which has been approved for publication by NCRA's Council of the Academy of Professional Reporters.
The questions are based on the material in the article but some may require additional research. Send your answer sheet to NCRA's Continuing Education Office, 8224 Old Courthouse Road, Vienna, VA 22182, and enclose a check for $40 (member) or $50 (non-member) to cover the processing fee.
Do you ever wonder whether the verb should be IS or ARE? HAS or HAVE? DOES or DO? Presented here are some basic subject-verb principles so that the next time you won't wonder. You will know which to use.
We start with the basic premise that a verb agrees with its subject in number (singular or plural) and also in person. (First-person subjects are I or WE. Second-person subjects are YOU. All other subjects are third-person.)
- Don't be confused by a phrase that follows the subject. For instance, the object of a preposition doesn't affect the form of the verb.
The jar of peaches WAS dropped.
A string of beads WAS introduced in evidence.
Phrases which begin with AS WELL AS, ACCOMPANIED BY, and TOGETHER WITH are particularly troublesome. Such phrases do not affect the number of the subject. (However, see Rule 2 below.)
The bailiff, accompanied by the defendants, HAS left the courtroom.
John, together with his brothers, WAS indicted.
- The exception to Rule 1 is a phrase which begins with the word OF following certain pronouns: MORE, ALL, NONE, SOME, MOST, ANY, PART, SUCH. (A useful mnemonic for these key words is "MAN'S MAPS.") If there is a phrase beginning with OF after one of these words (or after a fraction or a percentage), the verb will agree with the object of the preposition OF instead of the subject.
Most of the bills ARE paid.
Most of the bill IS correct.
Part of the problems ARE solved.
Part of the problem IS solved.
Thirty percent of the jobs HAVE been completed.
Thirty percent of the job HAS been completed.
- Don't be misled by the use of the word THERE to introduce a sentence. THERE is never the subject. When a sentence starts with the expletive THERE, the subject follows the verb.
There ARE five defendants in the case.
There IS one other motive to consider.
- When there are two subjects and one subject is affirmative and the other is negative, the verb agrees with the affirmative subject.
The State, not the defendants, IS calling the doctor as a witness.
The defendants, not the plaintiff, ARE calling the doctor as a witness.
- Use singular verbs to agree with these indefinite pronouns as subjects: ANOTHER, ANYBODY, ANYONE, ANYTHING, EACH, EITHER, EVERYBODY, EVERYONE, EVERYTHING, NEITHER, NOBODY, NO ONE, ONE, SOMEBODY, SOMEONE.
ONE of the defendants HAS the receipt.
EVERYONE IS responsible for his or her own bill.
- Use a plural verb with MANY, BOTH, SEVERAL, and FEW.
Both of them HAVE received a warning.
Many of the colors ARE fading.
Note: The idiomatic expression MANY A as a modifier takes a singular verb.
Many a person IS reluctant to speak in public.
- When a singular indefinite pronoun is used as an adjective to modify a compound subject, use a singular verb.
Each boy and girl HAS to recite the poem.
Every apple and orange IS checked for blemishes.
- When two or more subjects are joined by OR or NOR, the verb agrees with the subject closest to the verb.
Either the boys or Mary IS responsible for it.
Neither the plaintiff nor the defendants ARE on time.
- Use a singular verb with a subject which is a collective noun when the group is thought of as a unit.
The jury has voted unanimously for conviction.
- Relative pronouns, like WHO and THAT, may be singular or plural. It is impossible to tell whether the verb should be singular or plural without looking at the word the pronoun refers to (its antecedent). The verb agrees, then, with this antecedent.
He is the man who IS sitting at the end of the counsel table.
The boys who ARE involved in this incident have already been questioned.
In the first example, the word WHO refers to MAN, and since MAN is singular, the verb is IS. In the second example, WHO refers to BOYS. Therefore, the verb is ARE.
She is one of the jurors who ARE voting for acquittal.
Bob is the only one of the jurors who IS voting for acquittal.
In the first example, the antecedent of WHO is JURORS. There are many jurors voting for acquittal; so a plural verb is used. (She is just one of the jurors.) In the second example, the antecedent of WHO is ONE. (The rest of the jurors are not voting for acquittal.)
Nancy Patterson of Los Angeles, California, is the director of the NCRA-approved reporter training program of Bryan College of Court Reporting and a member of the Board of the Academy of Professional Reporters, which overseas NCRA's continuing education (CE) program.
Test for "Subject-Verb Agreement"
The following test will determine not only whether you know the right answer but whether you know the reason behind your answer.
Each question has a sentence in which one verb is capitalized. That verb may or may not agree with its subject. The choices in each question will concern the use of the capitalized verb.
1. There apparently WAS a difficult question to be answered and a problem to be solved.
A. WAS to agree with PROBLEM
B. WAS to agree with THERE
C. WERE because PROBLEM is not the subject
D. WERE because the subject is compound
2. Each of the jurors ARE to answer the questions honestly.
A. ARE to agree with JURORS
B. ARE because JURORS is not a collective noun
C. IS because JURORS is a collective noun
D. IS to agree with the indefinite pronoun subject EACH
3. There really never HAS been any good reason for the late delivery of the transcripts.
A. HAS to agree with REASON
B. HAS to agree with THERE
C. HAVE to agree with TRANSCRIPTS
D. HAVE to agree with THERE
4. The jury HAS voted unanimously in finding the defendant not guilty.
A. HAVE to agree with plural JURY
B. HAS to agree with singular DEFENDANT
C. HAVE to agree with plural JURY
D. HAS to agree with singular JURY
5. I think 50 percent of the transcripts scoped this week by the new equipment HAVE errors.
A. HAVE because TRANSCRIPTS is the subject
B. HAVE because the verb agrees with the object of the preposition
C. HAS to agree with EQUIPMENT
D. HAS because not all of the transcripts are completed
6. The plaintiff, not his attorneys, IS responsible for the document.
A. IS because verbs agree with an affirmative subject, not a negative one
B. ARE because the verb agrees with the closer subject
C. ARE because a compound subject takes a plural verb
D. IS because there is only one document to be responsible for
7. There IS my hat, which I thought I had lost, and my gloves.
A. ARE to agree with the compound subject
B. IS because HAT is singular
C. IS because it must agree with the closer subject
D. ARE because the relative pronoun is always plural
8. Did you see the box of paper clips that WAS in the tray of supplies?
A. WAS because THAT refers to box
B. WERE because CLIPS is the subject
C. WAS because TRAY is the subject
D. WERE because SUPPLIES is the subject
9. She is one of the reporters who IS ready to write realtime.
A. IS because the verb must agree with WHO
B. IS because SHE is singular
C. ARE to agree with REPORTERS
D. ARE because SHE and ONE become a compound subject
10. Neither the attorneys who presented the case nor the judge who heard it WAS convinced that the witness told the truth.
A. WERE to agree with ATTORNEYS
B. WERE because the subject is compound
C. WAS to agree with WITNESS
D. WAS to agree with JUDGE
11. The diamond ring, together with the string of pearls, WAS found when the police searched for the contraband.
A. WERE to agree with RING plus PEARLS
B. WERE to agree with PEARLS
C. WAS to agree with DIAMOND
D. WAS to agree with RING
12. Each of them HAVE an equal opportunity.
A. HAS because there is only one opportunity
B. HAS to agree with EACH
C. HAVE because several have an opportunity
D. HAVE to agree with THEM
13. Neither the defendants nor the plaintiff WERE contending that the weather was the principal factor.
A. WERE because the subject is compound
B. WERE to agree with the subject DEFENDANTS
C. WAS to agree with the word PLAINTIFF
D. WAS because the concept is negative rather than affirmative
14. Part of the transcripts which must be delivered today ARE yet to be billed.
A. ARE to agree with TRANSCRIPTS
B. ARE because there are two subjects
C. IS to agree with PART
D. IS because not all transcripts need to be billed
15. Each one of the speakers indicated that many a person who reads the publications HAVE definite ideas on the subject.
A. HAS to agree with the indefinite pronoun EACH
B. HAS to agree with the expression MANY A PERSON
C. HAVE to agree with SPEAKERS
D. HAVE because there is more than one person with a definite idea
16. Every occasion where there have been disputes over the distribution of funds to the heirs HAVE resulted in hard feelings.
A. HAVE to agree with DISPUTES
B. HAVE to agree with EVERY
C. HAS because FUNDS is a collective noun
D. HAS because OCCASION is the subject
17. It is I, the managing reporter, who BEARS the responsibility.
A. BEARS to agree with REPORTER
B. BEARS because I is singular
C. BEAR to agree with the antecedent REPORTER
D. BEAR to agree with the antecedent I
18. Most of the land planted last spring in sugar beets HAVE now been plowed.
A. HAVE to agree with BEETS
B. HAS to agree with LAND
C. HAS to agree with MOST
D. HAVE to agree with MOST
19. Mr. Lodge is the only one of the attorneys who DOES not do me the courtesy of spelling those unusual terms.
A. DOES because the antecedent of WHO is ONE
B. DO to agree with the relative pronoun WHO
C. DO to agree with ATTORNEYS
D. DOES because the verb must be affirmative
20. Each document and record produced by the defendants WERE inspected carefully.
A. WAS because the compound subject is modified by EACH
B. WAS because RECORD is singular
C. WERE to agree with DOCUMENT plus RECORD
D. WERE to agree with DEFENDANTS
|Answer Sheet for Subject-Verb Agreement
Circle the correct answer
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