Agreement after expression of quantity (Skill 12)

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Previous Skill --> Skill 11: Agreement After Prepositional Phrase

A particular agreement problem occurs when the subject is an expression of quantity such as all, most, or some followed by the preposition of. In this situation, the subject (all, most, or some) can be singular or plural, depending on what follows the preposition of

Most (of the meal) was delicious.
             SINGULAR

Most (of the meals) were delicious.
               PLURAL

Most (of the food) was delicious.
       UNCOUNTABLE

In the first example, the subject most refers to the singular noun meal, so the correct verb is therefore the singular verb was. In the second example, the subject most refers to the plural noun meals, so the correct verb is the plural verb were. In the third example, the subject most refers to the uncountable noun food, so the correct verb is therefore the singular verb was.

These sentences contain examples of the types of problems that are common on the TOEFL test.

All (of the book) were* interesting.

Half (of the students) is* late to class.

In the first example, the plural verb were should be the singular verb was because the subject all refers to the singular noun book. In the second example, the singular verb is should be the plural verb are because the subject half refers to the plural noun students.

The following chart outlines the key information that you should understand about subject/verb agreement after expressions of quantity.


EXERCISE 12: Each of the following sentences has a quantity expression as the subject. Underline the subjects once and the verbs twice. Circle the objects that the verbs agree with. Then indicate if the sentences are correct (C) or incorrect (I).



1. Half of the students in the class arrive early. (C)

   Analysis:
  • Object is Students (plural) and Verb is arrive (plural Verb), so the sentence is correct
2. Some of the fruit are rotten. (I)

    Analysis:
  • Fruit and are (Verb) are not match. It should be ".....fruit is ...
3. All of the next chapter contains very important information. (C)

    Analysis:
  • The next chapter (singular noun) and contains (singular verb) are match. (correct)
4. Most of the people in the room is paying attention.(I)

    Analysis:
  • The people (plural noun) and is (singular verb) are not match. It should be".....of the people ......are ..."
5. Part of the soup is left on the stove. (C)

    Analysis:
  • The soup (uncountable noun) and is (singular verb) are match.
6. Some of the movie were just too violent for me.  (I)

    Analysis:
  • The movie (singular noun) and were (plural verb) are not match. It should be "....the movie was ...."
7. All of the details in the report needs to be checked. (I)

    Analysis:
  • The details (plural noun) are needs are not match. It should be "....the details ........need...."
8. Most of the money is needed to pay the bills. (C)

    Analysis:
  • The money (uncountable noun) and is are match.
9. The first half of the class consists of lecture and note taking. (C)

    Analysis:
  • The class (singular noun) and consists (singular verb) are match.
10. Some of the questions on-the test was impossible to answer. (I)

     Analysis:
  • The questions (plural noun) and was (singular verb) are not match. It should be '....the questions ......were....."
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