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Sentence Correction: Subject Verb Agreement - A Pseudo-Plural Singular Subject

When John requested the assistance of a certain professor with his thesis, which is by no means related to mathematics, the professor replied that mathematics are essential in order to test John's main hypothesis.

Incorrect.

This answer choice is grammatically incorrect. The singular subject mathematics does not agree with the plural verb are.

[[snippet]]

This answer choice is illogical and doesn't fit into the original sentence. Omitting the -s from the noun mathematics turns it into the adjective mathematic, which is syntactically out of place. Changing are essential to is an essential disturbs the sentence structure and creates the nonsensical and ungrammatical sequence is an essential test John's.

Did you notice the omission of the -s from mathematics?

Mathematics does not have any other form and is already a singular subject (although its final -s confuses folks into thinking it is plural).

Although it corrects the original Subject Verb Agreement mistake, this answer choice is stylistically flawed. It replaces the phrase is by no means related to with a more verbose version - clearly has nothing whatsoever to do with, creating redundancy.

It is true that answer choices which are grammatically correct but are stylistically flawed are preferable to grammatically incorrect answer choices. However, there is an answer choice which is both grammatically correct and not redundant, so it is preferable to this one.

Although it corrects the original mistake, this answer choice is grammatically incorrect. The singular subject thesis does not agree with the plural verb have.

[[snippet]]

In addition, the change from essential in order to test to is to essentially test changes the meaning of the original sentence. 

OK, so the lesson to be learned from this question is to pay close attention to details.

Answer choices that correct the original mistake often include other mistakes which may help you eliminate them. Do not automatically assume that the only mistake to be corrected is the original mistake or that the only change an answer choice makes is in the part of the sentence that was originally flawed.

Well done!

This answer choice corrects the original Subject Verb Agreement mistake, by changing the plural verb are to the singular verb is, to match the singular (pseudo plural) subject mathematics.

While this answer choice changes some of the wording of the original sentence, it retains the original meaning.

is by no means related to mathematics, the professor replied that mathematics are essential in order to
in no way is related to mathematics, the professor replied that mathematic is an essential
clearly has nothing whatsoever to do with mathematics, the professor replied that mathematics is essential in order to
in no way is related to mathematics, the professor replied that mathematics is essential in order to 
in no way have any relation to mathematics, the professor replied that mathematics is to essentially

Sure I did. I just thought it was the singular form of mathematics.

No, I missed it.