Usage Errors Study Guide: Pre-GED Language Arts, Writing
The practice quiz for this study guide can be found at:
This article will help you to recognize correct usage of verbs and pronouns, and correct errors in subject-verb agreement, verb tense, and pronoun reference.
On the writing portion of the GED, 30 percent of the questions address usage errors. You will be expected to recognize correct grammar and make revisions to errors in subject-verb agreement, verb tense, and pronoun reference. As you already know, every sentence has a subject and a verb. The subject tells who or what the sentence is about; the verb tells who/what the subject is or does. Pronouns are words that take the place of a noun. Consider the following sentences:
Rinaldo watched a movie on TV. During commercials, Rinaldo folded laundry.
These sentences are about Rinaldo, so he is the subject. Watched and folded tell what he did, so these are the verbs.
Rinaldo watched a movie on TV. During commercials, he folded laundry.
Notice that in the previous example, the word he takes the place of Rinaldo in the second sentence. He is a pronoun. In this chapter, we will review agreement of these parts of speech. We will also review other rules of verb and pronoun usage that you will be expected to know.
Every sentence has a subject. Sometimes the subject is singular, which means the sentence is about one person or thing; other times the subject is plural, meaning the sentence is about more than one subject. Let's take a look at the following sentence:
Lola hosted the event. Ivan and Nicole were on the guest list.
The first sentence has a singular subject, Lola. The second sentence has more than one subject, Ivan and Nicole. Verbs can be singular or plural as well. Subject-verb agreement simply means that singular subjects must have a singular verb and plural subjects must have plural verbs. Consider the following sentences:
Mr. Robbins is my English teacher.
Ms. Patel and Mrs. Rodriguez are my math teachers.
The verb is is a singular verb, which agrees with the singular subject in the first sentence. The verb are is a plural verb, which agrees with the plural subject in the second sentence.
Now it's your turn to practice. Use what you know about subject-verb agreement to answer the following question. Which correction should be made to the following sentence?
My cousins works at the movie theater on Lincoln Street.
- insert three before cousins
- replace cousins with aunt and uncle
- insert will before works
- replace works with work
- replace works with goes to
This sentence has a plural subject, so it must have a plural verb. The corrected sentence would be My cousins work at the movie theater on Lincoln Street. The singular verb in the original sentence, works, needs a singular subject, as in Jannelle works at the movie theater on Lincoln Street.
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