Grandma\’s Tales

January 24, 2007

Grammar – 26 Verb, won’t you agree? Quiz

Filed under: Language — Rajesh @ 10:47 pm

I sometimes wonder why I point them out. But it’s good to know the rules before you trample them underfoot. You need to know your enemy, right?
Some time ago, I did a workshop for teachers in a prominent school in Chennai. We took up Subject-Verb agreement and I wrote this sentence on the board.
The Gulmohar is one of the trees that _____ all over India. What will you fill the blank with? Grow or grows? I asked.
That’s when I discovered there was disagreement between the teachers and me. They all (except their French teacher) said “grows” and I said “grow”.
“It is ‘one of the trees’, so it should take the singular verb (grows),” they said.
“Sorry”, I said and went on to explain.
There are two parts to this sentence. The Gulmohar is one of the trees / that _____ all over India. The word “that” is a pronoun and connects the two parts. Now, “that” (pronoun) stands for which noun? The nearest of course. Which is “trees”. If “that” stands for the noun”trees”, it is plural. Therefore the second part of the sentence should take the plural verb “grow”. The Gulmohar is one of the trees that _grow_ all over India. It is the same as “Richard is a boy, he goes to school.”
That is the technical explanation.
Now look at the meaning of the sentence. It says there are many trees that grow all over India. The Gulmohar is one of them. Here is how you check if your choice is right or not when you have a similar sentence – with “one of the” and a plural followed by a “that” or another pronoun.
Recast the sentence. Start it with “Of”.
Of the trees that grow all over India, the Gulmohar is one. Right?

In spite of the French teacher (?) siding with me, I didn’t cut any ice with the class. In true Indian style, they “staged a walk-out” shouting they didn’t want me to darken their doors again. Fine.
Now apply that rule and correct these sentences. I found them in newspapers. As usual.
[1] Apax was one of the private equity firms that sold its ownership to Pune-based Suzlon Energy.
[2] It is one of the few government-run schools that has consistently produced good results.
[3] The speaker is one of the senators from Minnesota who was elected last year.

Clue: (a) The relative pronouns (who, whom, which, and that) are either singular or plural, depending on the words they refer to.
(b) Begin with “Of”. You can’t go wrong.

Advertisements

2 Comments »

  1. 1. Apax was one of the private equity firms that sold their ownership to Pune-based Suzlon Energy. Correct?

    2. It is one of the few government-run schools that have consistently produced good results.

    3. The speaker is one of the senators from Minnesota who were elected last year.

    Comment by Navaneethan Santhanam — February 17, 2007 @ 1:54 am | Reply

  2. Hi Navaneethan, you hit it on the head, man. Way to go! Wish you were in my grammar class. And going by your other comments, wish you were in all my classes!

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — February 17, 2007 @ 9:08 am | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: