GMAT Subject & Verb

Apparently, GMAT sentence correction accounts for ~40% of questions on the GMAT Exam Verbal Section. So, expect anywhere between 12-14 questions pertaining to sentence correction. From what I have explored till now, this has turned out to be a real challenge. GMAT subject & verb blog deals with understanding subject & verb in detail along the lines of identification and thereby application to verify the intended meaning.

Aiding Verbs

Every statement or clause needs to contain subject-verb pairs. Thereby the presence of a verb is both necessary and required for a complete statement. Identifying these pairs allows us to understand the meaning more clearly and thereby establish logical meaning behind the statement.

e.g. Rahul is visiting Delhi. Rahul might visit Delhi.

Aiding verbs extend or add to the information conveyed by the verb. In this context is aiding the verb waiting by conveying the timing of the visit which is in the present. Might in the second example becomes the aiding verb adding uncertainty to the statement.

There are multiple aiding verbs including is, am, may, has, have, will etc.


Verbals are words derived from verbs and seem like verbs. Act like verbs but are not the same as verbs. There are broadly 3 types of verbals

  • To verbal: A verb followed by a to is never a verb and actually a verbal. Rahul visited Delhi to meet his mom.
  • Ing verbal: These are ing-verbs that are not preceded by aiding verbs. Rahul visiting Delhi is inappropriate during covid times. Here visiting Delhi acts as a noun. It is inappropriate. Visiting is not a verb.
  • Ed verbal: These are similar to the ing-verbs in the sense that you will need an aiding verb before the ed-verb for it become a verb else it’s a verbal.

Identifying Subjects

Identifying the subject is necessary to establish the key subject-verb pairs. Once, we know the main verbs, we should be able to identify the main subject corresponding to the verb. This is useful since we can use the understanding of the subject-verb pair to identify these kinds of errors.

The main one being singular verbs need singular subjects and plural verbs go with plural subjects. The pairs will need to align in a logical way as well. Thereby, we need alignment along with logic and number.

  • Eliminate Prepositional Phrases: One of the tricks to simplify the statement and identify the subject is to eliminate all prepositional phrases from the statements.
  • Ask Questions: Who and What did the act?
  • AND as plural: Subjects combined using AND are treated as plural.
  • Collection: A collection of subjects is always treated as singular in GMAT.
  • Each/Every as singular: These words before a subject would refer to a singular subject. Even when the statement goes as each student in a class. This will be a singular verb. This holds true for every as well.
  • A number as plural: This word before a subject would refer to a plural subject. When the statement goes as a number of entities or units. We are referring to a plural subject.
  • Clauses as Subjects:

Rules of Usage

GMAT Subject Verb errors have a pattern and have some nuance and rules when used:

  • Subject-Verb Pair: The subject-verbs should exist. A correct paragraph/sentence in it will have subject-verbs in pair. The absence of either is a sign of an error.
  • Numerical Sense: The subject and the verbs should always exist in pairs. Within a paragraph, we might have multiple subject-verb pairs. Each pair should agree in a numerical sense.
  • Logical Meaning: The subject-verb pair should also agree on meaning.
  • AND as Plural: Subjects combined using an AND act as a plural always. e.g. Rahul and Shobit play poker. vs Rahul plays poker.
  • The collection as Singular: A collection of objects, animal or humans is considered a single unit. e.g. The audience was amazed by the performance.
  • Additive Phrase: Additional subjects added to the core subject such as as well as, along with etc are not considered part of the subject and thereby considered singular. e.g. Rahul along with his brothers plays poker. Basically, the additive phrase provides extra context to the subject but is not part of the subject.

These are broadly the concepts covered with GMAT Subject & Verb

To be continued …