GMAT Grammar: Subject Verb Agreement

    Sayantani Barman Sayantani Barman
    Study Abroad Expert

    The Graduate Management Admissions Test or GMAT is a computer adaptive test (CAT). The score on this examination is required as part of the application process to many MBA programs around the world. GMAT syllabus officially measures skills in the fields of English, Mathematics, and analytical writing. Actually, the GMAT tests Basic English and math skills, but what it mostly tests is how well the candidate uses specific techniques and strategies for best performance. Apart from this, GMAT eligibility criteria are also vital phenomena which is considered crucial by the majority of the reputed business schools. 

    GMAT Verbal Ability Section

    The Verbal section of the GMAT contains 36 questions and has a 65 minutes time limit and unlike other standardized tests like the SAT or the GRE, GMAT Verbal Ability section does not directly test vocabulary and there will be no multiple-choice definitions or word analogies. Instead, advanced vocabulary will only be encountered as part of the text that test-takers will read as part of Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction problems which means that for native English speakers, vocabulary should not be a challenge. However, for a non-native English speaker, the candidates must familiarize themselves with this section ahead of time to see if the word choices in passages will be challenging in order to understand the amount of preparation needed.

    The GMAT Quantitative Aptitude Section may ask test-takers to find the correct answer, the GMAT Verbal Ability Section generally asks readers to supply the best answer, rather than the correct one. This is an important distinction and can involve a slight mind shift, especially considering its placement immediately following the Quantitative section. While finding the best answer can often mean relying heavily on the process of elimination, Verbal section's main objective is to assess test-takers' abilities to comprehend written material. GMAT also requires test takers to evaluate the written arguments, as well as the correct sentences to conform to standard written English.

    It is also important to note that while Quantitative and Verbal scores are combined together to form the total score, a higher Verbal score could have a greater impact on the total score than a high Quantitative one. However, consider this-because so many GMAT test-takers are quantitatively oriented, and many are non-native English speakers, there are many more high scorers on the Quantitative section of the test. We recommended the candidate to go through the GMAT's official website, which helps in understanding that while both the Verbal and Quantitative sections are scored from zero to 60, a score of more than 50 is unusual for the Quantitative Aptitude section. However, a score of more than just 44 is unusual for the Verbal Ability section.

    Another important part of the GMAT exam is the scratch paper. This scratch paper is not only for figuring out equations, but it can also even be used during the Verbal Ability Section as it can be helpful for taking basic notes or keeping facts organized.

    GMAT Subject-Verb agreement

    GMAT test makers are aware of the candidate's possible inaccuracy with respect to the agreement between a subject and its verb in the topic of GMAT sentence correction. While, this fact may very much sound as fundamental to any language that is learned at the first hand and would be something that would be hard to miss by anyone, which is even true in many cases. For example, it could be something as straightforward as “the ball is” or “the balls are”. However, the test makers have multiple tools up their sleeve and they make this complex by placing the subject a long way from the verb in an effort to confuse the candidate. 

    Now to understand the above words better practice papers for GMAT must also be solved meticulously. We are listing below two constructions which can confuse the GMAT test taker and would then consume a lot of time to solve the problem at hand:

    • “X of Y” subject
    • “One of X that,”

    *note that X is a plural noun.

    Candidates can observe from both of the above sentences that both the structures include the preposition “of,” and that is the reason which makes GMAT candidates confused making them eat up more time to solve the problem related to the GMAT Sentence Correction. In order to understand this better, the GMAT candidate should understand that each and every single sentence, be it written or spoken, talks about action, and every action has a doer. This is the reason why there cannot be a sentence without a subject-verb agreement, especially in the parlance of GMAT Sentence Correction.

    What is a Subject?

    The unit about whom/which a testimonial is made is called the subject and only a ‘noun’ or a ‘pronoun’ can be the subject of a clause. While this noun unit can be a one-word noun or a noun phrase but a noun/pronoun preceded by a preposition can never act as a noun. For example:

    • All planets move in elliptical orbits.
    • The wildlife of India attracts many tourists annually.

    It is needless to say that the planet and the wildlife of Africa are the respective subjects in the above-mentioned sentences.

    What is a Verb?

    Verb presents an action, an event, or a state of being of a noun and it is one of the most important parts of a sentence denoting the timing (tense) of the action. For example:

    • All planets move in elliptical orbits.
    • The wildlife of India attracts many tourists annually.

    Now, in the above-mentioned sentences, ‘move’ is the verb for the subject ‘planets’, and ‘attracts’ is the verb for the subject ‘the wildlife of India’. However, the candidate must understand that the Subject Verb (SV) pair must adhere to a few conditions for its correct usage in any sentence, those conditions are as follows:

    • The Subject-Verb must exist.
    • Subject-Verb must agree in number.
    • In each and every sentence, the Subject Verb should make sense with each other.

    GMAT Subject Verb Agreement – Rule wise examples

    Subject-Verb must exist

    A sentence must contain a subject and its verb, thus, a sentence missing any of this entity is considered incorrect in GMAT Sentence Correction. For example, ‘the rose that I grew in my backyard is fragrant’. This sentence carries two subject-verb pairs i.e. ‘the rose is’ and ‘I grew’. Since in this sentence, there is a verb for every subject and vice-versa, hence, the sentence is correct.

    Let us take a look at another example of this rule, ‘The scientists describing global warming as a phenomenon that is caused by human beings.’ In this sentence, the subject that has the verb – ‘is caused’ but there is no verb for the subject ‘the scientists’ and thus, this sentence is incorrect because of the missing verb for one of the subjects.

    Subject-Verb Must Agree in Number

    Both the nouns/pronouns and verbs have numbers, i.e. these entities can be identified as singular and plural and that the subject must agree in number with its verb. Thus, if the subject is singular, then its verb must also be singular and if subject is plural, then its verb must also be plural. For example, “The nails in the box that is made up of wood are rusted”, here the subject ‘the nails’ is plural and hence correctly takes the plural verb ‘are’. Similarly, the subject that presents more information about the singular noun ‘the box’ is associated with the singular verb ‘is’.

    Another example related to the agreement in number is, ‘The scientists describe global warming as a phenomenon that is caused by human beings.’ - in this sentence, the subject that presents additional information about the singular noun correctly takes the singular verb – ‘is caused’, but the plural subject ‘the scientists’ has the singular verb ‘describes’ and this most certainly is ungrammatical and hence incorrect.

    Subject-Verb should make sense with each other

    Apart from being present in the sentence and agreeing in number with each other, the subject and the verb must make sense with each other for their correct usage making the sentence for example – ‘The impressive profile of this person is among the wealthiest in the world.’ This sentence must be comprehended as the profile is among the richest in the world, and as per common sense, we can comprehend that the profile of a person cannot be wealthy, only the person can be wealthy. Hence, even though this example does not have any grammatical errors, it is incorrect because it does not convey logical meaning as the subject makes no sense with its verb.

    Another example for this is, ‘The person with an impressive profile is among the wealthiest in the world’, here the sentence presents logical meaning because per this sentence a particular person is one of the richest in the world and since the subject makes sense with its verbs and hence presents logical meaning.

    Thus, it is best to follow this 5-step process to check for Subject-verb agreement:

    • Identify the verb in the given statement.
    • Convert the verb from the statement into a question.
    • The candidate can answer the question to identify the word that the verb is referencing.
    • Identify whether that word is singular or plural.
    • Check the verb.

    *The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College


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