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Elizabeth Peterson

SAT Writing: Noun Agreement

Agreement errors appear in various forms on the SAT, but they always deal with mismatching plurality. Noun agreement errors in particular manifest in three different ways.

Noun vs. Noun

If two nouns are used to describe the same person, group, or object, they should agree in number.
SAT Writing Noun Agreement
Example: Most of the blooms in the bouquet were a flower from Maria’s garden.

In the above example, “the blooms” and “a flower” are talking about the same thing, but the first is plural and second is singular. Noun-noun agreement errors tend to be jarring when read, so they are usually easy to spot, but make sure that whatever correction you make is the right one. Replacing “a flower” with “flowers” would fix the disagreement easily, for example, but changing “blooms” to “bloom” wouldn’t work unless we also removed “Most of” at the beginning.

Noun vs. Pronoun

Disagreement between nouns and pronouns can be little more challenging because we tend to be a little lazy with these rules when we speak, so catching them in written work is tougher. One of the most common errors of this type uses a plural pronoun to describe a singular noun.

Example: The team arrived early so they could warm up before the game.

It is so tempting to brush this off as correct, but remember that groups of people are singular unless we mention the members separately. The team in this example is one entity that just happens to be made up of several people. Therefore, “they” should be “it”. If we added the word “members” after team, however, we could keep the pronoun the way it is. See what I mean about this being challenging?

Noun vs. Verb

Lastly, nouns acting as subjects must agree with any verbs they might be paired with.

Example: The fuzzy puppy chewing on the laces were adorable.

In this example, the adorable puppy is singular, but the verb “were” is plural. Subject-verb agreement errors are some of the most challenging of the noun agreement errors, especially when they appear in longer sentences that contain multiple subject-verb pairs.

Noun agreement errors may be difficult to catch, but correcting them is straightforward and can become second nature with practice. Whatever answer you choose, remember to read the entire sentence back to yourself to check for any sneaky errors you might have missed. Finally, if you’re worried about your Writing test skills, why not build on them by taking a quiz?

About Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth holds a degree in Psychology from The College of William & Mary. While there, she volunteered as a tutor and discovered she loved the personal connection she formed with her students. She has now been helping students with test prep and schoolwork as a professional tutor for over six years. When not discussing grammar or reading passages, she can be found trying every drink at her local coffee shop while writing creative short stories and making plans for her next travel adventure!

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