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GMAT Sentence Correction Rules: Subject-Verb Agreement

As we teach in our GMAT Sentence Correction lessons, subject-verb agreement is among the most commonly-tested points of English grammar on GMAT Sentence Correction questions. Just because you correctly identify the subject and verb of a sentence (perhaps using our “Bracketing Technique“), however, that doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically be able to determine whether or not the subject and verb actually agree!

This is especially true on more difficult sentences when the GMAT test makers use unorthodox subjects such as gerunds and infinitives.

First, a couple of definitions so that we’re all on the same page:

Definition: A gerund is a derivation of a verb, ending in -ing and acting as a noun in a sentence. For example, asking in “Do you mind my asking you a question?”

Definition: An infinitive is the basic form of a verb. For example, to see in “We came to see the new baby.”

The question then becomes, “When you see a gerund or infinitive as the subject of a sentence, does it require a singular or plural verb for agreement?”

Here’s a very simple rule to help you:

Rule: When acting as subjects of a sentence, gerunds and infinitives are always singular and require singular verbs.

That’s it!  (I said it was simple, didn’t I?)

To prove you understand this rule, choose the correct verb form to properly complete each of these sample sentences (correct answers are below):

Q1: Entertaining multiple options (makes / make) a person’s decision more difficult.

Q2: Carrying out the boss’s 5-point plan (is / are) time-consuming.

Q3: To score well on the GMAT (require / requires) expert instruction and lots of practice

So, be sure to learn this important GMAT grammar rule that will help you get more right answers on GMAT sentence correction questions testing subject-verb agreement. Now go out and dominate the GMAT!

Answers: Q1:makes; Q2:is; Q3:requires