Grammar for Praxis II ParaPro Test Prep Study Guide (page 3)
The practice quiz for this study guide can be found at:
For the writing section of the ParaPro Assessment, you must be able to identify problems in the grammar of a sentence—you don't need to be a grammar expert. There are only a few aspects of grammar that will likely be tested. For example, you need to be on the lookout for the incorrect use of subject-verb agreement, pronoun agreement, and verb tenses.
They goes together, or they go together? You probably don't even have to think about which subject goes with which verb here—your ear discerns easily that the second version is correct. Subject-verb agreement is when the subject of a clause matches the verb in number. Singular nouns take singular verbs; plural nouns take plural verbs. However, some instances of subject-verb agreement are tricky. Look out for the following three problem areas on the writing section of the ParaPro Assessment:
- Phrases Following the Subject—Pay close attention to the subject of the sentence. Do not be misled by phrases that may follow the subject. These phrases may confuse you into selecting a verb that does not agree with the subject. Try this practice question:
- Betty Friedan's 1963 book, of domesticity long-held American attitudes, an to feminism.
The correct answer is choice c. The singular subject, book, needs a singular verb, remains. Don't be confused by the plural noun attitudes, which is part of a phrase that follows the subject.
- Subjects Following the Verb—Be sure to locate the subject of the sentence. Test makers use subjects that come after the verb to confuse you. Sentence constructions which begin with there is or there are signal that the subject comes after the verb.
- the Australian government the Great Barrier Reef, there environmental factors that to threaten the world's largest coral reef ecosystem.
The correct answer, the underlined section with the error, is choice c. The plural subject factors requires a plural form of the verb, are. Nothing is wrong with the word although, so choice a is incorrect. The plural verb protects matches the singular tense of the word government, so choice b is incorrect The verb continue is in the correct tense to match the plural subject factors, so choice d is incorrect.
Special Singular Nouns—Some words that end in s, like measles, news, checkers, economics, sports, and politics, are often singular despite their plural form, because we think of them as one thing. Watch out for collective nouns—nouns that refer to a number of people or things that form a single unit. These words, such as audience, stuff, crowd, government, group, and orchestra, need a singular verb.
- That group of drama students labeled "the anarchists," they took over the university president's office against the dress code.
The correct answer choice is b. The collective noun group is the singular subject of the sentence. Notice how the position of the prepositional phrase of drama students following the subject is misleading.
Pronouns are words that take the place of a noun. Just as subjects and verbs must agree, pronouns and their antecedents must match. If a noun is singular, the pronoun must be singular. If a noun is plural, the pronoun must be plural. Pronouns also need to match their antecedent in case. Remember that a pronoun can also take the place of another pronoun too. In those cases, the pronouns must agree as well, of course.
A pronoun that takes the place of the subject of a sentence should be in the nominative case (I, we, he, she, they), whereas a pronoun that takes the place of the object in a sentence should be in the objective case (me, us, him, her, them). Here are some examples.
- Matteo is funny, but he can also be very serious. (subject)
- Bernadette hired Will, and she also fired him. (object)
In most cases, you will automatically recognize errors in pronoun agreement. The sentence Me worked on the project with him is clearly incorrect. However, some instances of pronoun agreement can be tricky. Review these common pronoun problems:
- indefinite pronouns like each, everyone, anybody, no one, one, and either are singular. Each of the boys presented his science project.
- two or more nouns joined by and use a plural pronoun. Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein engaged popular culture in their art.
- two or more singular nouns joined by or use a singular pronoun. Francis or Andrew will lend you his book.
- he or she? In speech, people often use the pronoun they to refer to a single person of unknown gender. However, this is incorrect—a singular noun requires a singular pronoun. A person has the right to do whatever he or she wants.
The following table lists some pronouns that are commonly confused with verb contractions or other words. Look out for these errors.
Try this practice sentence-correction question:
- A child is eager to please often follow everything that parents
Choice c is the correct answer. The subject, a child, is singular. Even though you don't know the gender of the child, the possessive pronoun should be his or her in order to agree in number.
Pronoun Problem—Unclear Reference
When a pronoun can refer to more than one antecedent in a sentence, it is called an unclear, or ambiguous, reference. Look carefully for this error; a sentence may read smoothly, but may still contain an unclear reference. Look at this practice usage question:
- A regular feature in American newspapers the early nineteenth century, use satirical humor to comment a current event.
The answer is choice b. Who or what uses satirical humor? You don't know how to answer, because the pronoun they does not have an antecedent. If you replace they with political cartoons, the sentence makes sense.
Shifting Verb Tense
Verb tense should be consistent. If a sentence describes an event in the past, its verbs should all be in the past tense.
- Incorrect: When Kate visited Japan, she sees many Shinto temples.
- Correct: When Kate visited Japan, she saw many Shinto temples.
- Past Tense for Present Conditions: It's incorrect to describe a present condition in the past tense.
- Incorrect: My sister met her husband in a cafe. He was very tall.
- Correct: My sister met her husband in a cafe. He is very tall.
- Incomplete Verbs: Test makers may trick you by including the -ing form, or progressive form, of a verb without a helping verb (is, has, has been, was, had, had been, etc.).Make sure that verbs are complete and make sense in the sentence.
- Incorrect: The major newspapers covering the story throughout the year because of the controversy.
- Correct: The major newspapers have been covering the story throughout the year because of the controversy.
- Subjunctive Mood: The subjunctive mood of verbs expresses something that is imagined, wished for, or contrary to fact. The subjunctive of was is were.
- Incorrect: If I was a movie star, I would buy a fleet of Rolls-Royces.
- Correct: If I were a movie star, I would buy a fleet of Rolls-Royces.
Now practice answering this usage question.
- about the lack parking at the old stadium, season ticket holders next week's game.
The correct answer is c. Considering needs a helping verb to be complete and to make sense in this sentence. The clause should read, season ticket holders are considering boycotting next week's game.
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