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

Which of the following sentences does NOT have a pseudo-plural subject Stop Sign?

Incorrect.

Politics is a pseudo-plural singular noun. Although it ends with an -s, it is singular. When such a form appears as the subject of the sentence, it is a pseudo-plural subject Stop Sign, indicating a possible Subject Verb Agreement mistake.

Incorrect.

The word committee is a pseudo-plural singular noun because it is a collective noun. Although a committee is composed of several committee members, the noun committee is not plural but rather singular, as in the sentence the committee was divided. This is a clear pseudo-plural subject Stop Sign, indicating a possible Subject Verb Agreement mistake.

Incorrect.

The word news is a pseudo-plural singular noun. Although it is plural in form, it is actually treated as singular, as in the above sentence: The news...spread quickly. This is a clear pseudo-plural subject Stop Sign, indicating a possible Subject Verb Agreement mistake.

Very good.

You correctly identified the sentence that does NOT have a pseudo-plural subject Stop SignFamilies is a true, honest-to-goodness plural noun.

Note, however, that the word family, in the singular form - is a collective noun. If the word family had appeared as the subject of the sentence, this would indeed have been a pseudo-plural subject Stop Sign, indicating a possible Subject Verb Agreement mistake.

This question is directing you to look for pseudo-plural subject Stop Signs in each answer choice, and to choose the answer choice that does NOT have this particular kind of Stop Sign.

Let's recall what pseudo-plural subjects are. One type is a noun that is singular although it ends with an -s: e.g., news, thesis, analysis, mathematics, linguistics.

Another type of pseudo-plural subject is a collective noun. Nouns like committee, family, herd, flock, and team refer to a group with several members, yet grammatically they are singular nouns, which should be matched with verbs in the singular.

Remember that to count as a pseudo-plural subject the noun you are looking for has to function as the sentence's grammatical subject.

Politics is a difficult career to pursue.

Although in agreement on many issues, the committee was divided on the question of Jim's promotion.

The news about the election results spread quickly.

Families with children under the age of five receive many discounts from local businesses.

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