Matching Subject and Verbs: GMAT Sentence Correction

The GMAT loves to make things complicated when testing subject-verb agreement. Most people would recognize that if the subject is “Robert” and the verb is “moving,” the sentence should be “Robert is moving,” rather than “Robert are moving.” However, some subjects and sentence structures can make the verb choice less clear.


Collective Nouns

A collective noun is a noun that represents a group of people or things. Though there are multiple people or things in a single group, the subject is the group rather than the individual members of the group. In each of the examples below, the verb is italicized while the subject is underlined.

The class is going to graduate.
The committee plans to vote.
The group is going to plan a birthday party for Jane.
The recipe for cupcakes requires two eggs.

“A of B”

Sometimes the question will try to trip you up by including a phrase beginning with “of.” For example, in the sentence “The list of groceries is on the kitchen counter,” list is the subject, not groceries. If you bought “a box of chocolates,” the subject would be box (singular), not chocolates (plural).

The list of groceries is on the kitchen counter.
The bouquet of flowers is on the dining room table.
The group of girls is going to Disneyland.


If the sentence includes either/or or neither/or, make sure you’re careful. When only one of the subjects will actually be performing the action, the verb will still be singular. For example, in the sentence “Hannah and Jacob are going to the party,” the verb refers to both Hannah and Jacob. However, “Either Hannah or Jacob has Jane’s gift” uses a singular verb.

Neither Judy nor Michael plans to vote in the election.
Somebody has forgotten to check the shipment.
One of us files the report every Friday.
Each student has a homework planner.

We hope these examples will help you master subject-verb agreement on the GMAT, and make sure you download the latest version of Prep4GMAT for access to dozens of questions on subject-verb agreement.