In this video you will learn how to avoid another very common subject-verb agreement error that people make all the time – using the verb of the wrong number in sentences with mid-sentence phrases.
Here’s an example: “The causes of the disaster remains unknown.”
Now, let me ask you – what is the Subject of this sentence? If you said “the causes,” you are correct.
And what is the Verb? Well, there is only one verb in this sentence – “remains.”
But what is the Subject’s number? “The causes” are plural. They are MANY, not ONE! And therefore, the Verb that refers to it must also be plural: “The causes of the disaster REMAIN unknown.” Not “REMAINS” unknown because “remains” is singular. See that?
The Subject and the Verb must agree in number.
Now, what was it that threw this student off? You see, when a sentence contains another phrase in the middle, the noun in the phrase is often confused with the subject.
In this sentence, “of the disaster” is a mid-sentence phrase. Please note that the sentence works without this phrase if you take it out: “The causes remain unknown.” And when you put the phrase in, make sure that your Verb still agrees with the Subject, not with the noun in the phrase.
In this example, the Verb “remain” must agree with the Subject “the causes,” not with the noun “disaster” in the mid-sentence phrase. This sentence is about “the causes,” not about “the disaster.”
Watch out for this common error, and you’ll stand out in your writing and speech, because so many people make this mistake.