Grandma\’s Tales

December 29, 2006

Grammar – 22 Verb, do you take the Subject as your lord and master?

Filed under: Language — Rajesh @ 10:14 pm

A prominent newspaper had this sentence.

Perform@International, a Singapore-based company, in association with Scientific Learning Corporation, USA have brought out a learning intervention programme for school cildren.

Is the mistake obvious? Right! The helping verb “have” does not help grammar here at all. “Have” is used with “I, We, You, They”. Everyone else (“He, She, It”) just has to stay satisfied with “has”.
I know it is discrimination with criminal intent, but that’s how the rules go. All you can do here is to ask in a humble voice, “How do I choose the right one?” That’s easy. Play Treasure (subject) Hunt and you’ll get the prize.
Retrace your steps and find out what the sentence is talking about. What is your subject? About what are you talking here?
In our sentence it is, without doubt, Perform@International. Deny it, you are caught in a patent lawsuit. Who brought out “a learning intervention programme”? Perform@International. And Perform@International is singular (a … company). If you used a pronoun in its place, that pronoun would be “It”. For a subject that plays tag and becomes “It”, the verb is “has”. “It has”. Easy!
Just look around and find the subject. And then choose your verb carefully. It’s silly to argue, “Why can’t I change the subject to suit my verb?” It’s the same as asking, “Why can’t I build my house around my septic tank?”
The verb is for the subject, not the other way round. Subject is what you choose to write on. The verb simply says, “I agree, therefore I am”. Or it gets replaced.

Ok, the next gem.
The latest incident in a series of road accidents are unpardonable.
Again, what are we talking about in this sentence? Not “road accidents”, no, it is “the latest incident”. One incident is “It”. Therefore, the verb should be “is” not “are”. So be clear about your subject and the verb will obediently follow.

The problem is obvious. Sometimes, there is an army of words between the subject (the legit topic) and the verb. Absence does not make the heart grow fonder. The verb forgets the origin and goes astray.

Try and take this simple quiz.
[1] It was the speaker, not his ideas, that _____ provoked the students. (have, has)
[2] The tornadoes that tear through this county every spring _____ more than just a nuisance. (is, are)
[3] The survey covering seven colleges ________ a growth in enrollment. (show, shows)
[4] The news of the discovery _____ spreading. (are, is)
[5] The price of these jeans ______ prohibitive. (is, are)
[6] Collecting match-boxes ______ one of his hobbies. (is, are)
[7] The books borrowed from the library ______ on the desk. (was, were)
[8] The quality of the sweets _________ gone down. (have, has)
[9] The boy who won the two medals _______ untraceable. (is, are)
[10] The team captain, as well as the players, ______ anxious. (is, are)

Happy hunting!

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6 Comments »

  1. Hi,

    I am back after a two week vacation in New Zealand (my gift to myself on turning 30). I am happy to report that bad grammar is a universal phenomenon with wrong usage of apostrophes at its van. NZ, I was happy to note, is contributing its fair share.

    Anyway, I am glad to see a test and here are my attempts.

    [1] It was the speaker, not his ideas, that _____ provoked the students. (have, has)

    Ans: has

    [2] The tornadoes that tear through this county every spring _____ more than just a nuisance. (is, are)

    Ans: are

    [3] The survey covering seven colleges ________ a growth in enrollment. (show, shows)

    Ans: shows

    [4] The news of the discovery _____ spreading. (are, is)

    Ans: is

    [5] The price of these jeans ______ prohibitive. (is, are)

    Ans: is

    [6] Collecting match-boxes ______ one of his hobbies. (is, are)

    Ans: is

    [7] The books borrowed from the library ______ on the desk. (was, were)

    Ans: were

    [8] The quality of the sweets _________ gone down. (have, has)

    Ans: has

    [9] The boy who won the two medals _______ untraceable. (is, are)

    Ans: is

    [10] The team captain, as well as the players, ______ anxious. (is, are)

    Ans: Tricky one. I have a nagging feeling that I read a footnote in my grammar text (‘Agreement of the verb with the subject’ – Class 7 if I am not wrong) which suggests that in case of a compound subject (one which is singular and the other which is plural), the verb should agree with the subject which is closest to it. In which case the answer should be ‘are’. The sentence also rolls of the tongue better with ‘are’ in it. So I will go with ‘are’. Would definitely like to hear from you on this.

    Subrat

    Comment by Subrat — December 30, 2006 @ 8:07 am | Reply

  2. Hi Subrat,
    Great to have you back! Wherever your English teacher is, she gets a sharp salute from me! You remember what she taught you in grade 7, wow! And look at your analysis! You are Bingo! on the first nine and see the post for the last one, ok?

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — December 30, 2006 @ 8:40 am | Reply

  3. Geeta,
    I take you as my official Eglish teacher now!

    Now what’s the right answer for Question #10?

    Subrat

    Comment by Subrat — December 30, 2006 @ 9:48 am | Reply

  4. Thanks, Subrat. Read the special post for you I just uploaded.

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — December 30, 2006 @ 10:28 am | Reply

  5. Here we go…

    [1] It was the speaker, not his ideas, that *has* provoked the students. (have, has)
    [2] The tornadoes that tear through this county every spring *are* more than just a nuisance. (is, are)
    [3] The survey covering seven colleges *shows* a growth in enrollment. (show, shows)
    [4] The news of the discovery *is* spreading. (are, is)
    [5] The price of these jeans *is* prohibitive. (is, are)
    [6] Collecting match-boxes *is* one of his hobbies. (is, are)
    [7] The books borrowed from the library *were* on the desk. (was, were)
    [8] The quality of the sweets *has* gone down. (have, has)
    [9] The boy who won the two medals *is* untraceable. (is, are)
    [10] The team captain, as well as the players, *are* anxious. (is, are)

    Comment by Rashmi — December 31, 2006 @ 8:04 am | Reply

  6. Hi Rashmi, welcome back! The first nine, right on the dot! For the tenth, please refer to Agree, verb, agree!

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — December 31, 2006 @ 9:38 am | Reply


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