Agreement Problems: Subject/Verb and Pronoun/Antecedent

1.   Several short breaks during a writing assignment is[ds1]  more

beneficial than one long rest period.

2.  Economics are[ds2]  more difficult for me than English.

3.   The president or the vice president are[ds3]  going to make the

announcement regarding taxes.

4.   Neither the President nor his aids was[ds4]  concerned about the

distribution of farm subsidies.

5.   The city council are[ds5]  appointing a committee to study the

economic implications of migration from the cities to suburbs.

6.   The chairperson asked each member of the board to make their[ds6] 

own decision.

7.   Every corporate executive needs some independence, even

though they[ds7]  work as part of a close-knit team.

8.   There are[ds8]  ample evidence to suggest that most young drivers

are mature  enough at twenty to combine driving  skill  with  an

awareness that there is, in fact, dangers on the road.

9.   Sports and movies are means of relieving depression and

violent emotions. This[ds9]  is why they are necessary in a society.

10.   Leaders of the women's Liberation movement have criticized

American doctors severely.  They[ds10]  are angry--and justifiably so.

11.  The author who[ds11]  I admire is Mark Twain.

12.   Women are forbidden to speak with the female offender or to

associate with them[ds12]  in any way at the risk of being put in the

tebreya herself[ds13] .

13.  Each parent visited their[ds14]  child's teacher.

14.   Summer jobs are necessary for anyone working their[ds15]  way

through college.

15.   Neither that drawing nor those paintings appeals[ds16]  to my


16.  The committee applaud[ds17]  the city council's decision to build a

mall along a portion of North Street.

 [ds1]This is a subject verb disagreement.  The subject of the sentence is “breaks,” and the verb is “is.” You wouldn’t say, “The breaks is timely.” The only reason it may sound okay here is that a prepositional phrase comes between the subject and its verb.

 [ds2]Another subject-verb disagreement, this time because “Economics” is singular, referring to the subject of economics.

 [ds3]S/V again. This sentence has a compound subject separated by “or.” In such cases, the number of the noun closest to the verb governs the verb. In this case, both nouns are singular, so the verb should  be singular too.

 [ds4]Just the converse of the previous sentence. The closest noun of the compound subject separated by nor is plural so the verb should be plural too.

 [ds5]The council is acting as a singular unit; therefore, the verb should be singular, not plural.

 [ds6]This is a pronoun reference problem. The antecedent for “their” is “each member.” Each is considered singular, but “their” is plural.

 [ds7]The antecedent of they is “every corporate executive.” Every is considered singular.

 [ds8]S/V disagreement. This sentence begins with “There” but that is not the subject. The subject follows the verb in such sentences, so the subject is “evidence,” a singular noun.

 [ds9]The word “This” is a pronoun, and it should usually refer to one word. When it appears at the beginning of a sentence as it does here, it often refers to a whole group of words. It is a good idea to supply one noun after the word “this” to clarify its reference.

 [ds10]The antecedent for this pronoun is unclear. Who is angry? Women or doctors?

 [ds11]This pronoun is the object of the clause, referring to Mark Twain. The word “who” should agree with  Mark Twain. Would we say, “I admire he”? No of course not. We would say, “I admire him.” Him and whom are object forms of pronouns. The word should be “whom.”

 [ds12]“Them” is plural, but the antecedent is “offender,” a singular noun.

 [ds13]The antecedent for this word is “women,” a plural noun. Pronouns should agree with their antecedents in number.

 [ds14]The antecedent for “their” is “each,” a singular.

 [ds15]Antecedent is “anyone,” another singular pronoun.

 [ds16]The closest noun from this compound subject is “paintings,” a plural, but “appeals” is singular.

 [ds17]The committee is acting as a single unit, so the verb should be “applauds.”