Subject verb agreement with intervening words or phrases

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The color of the walls (please / pleases) us.

The flowers for the bouquet ( is / are) pretty.

RULE: The verb always agrees with the simple subject. In complex sentences first identify the simple subject – who or what is the sentence about? – then identify the correct verb form.

Directions: For the sentences below, first circle the simple subject (who or what is the sentence about?). Then circle the correct verb to agree with the subject.

  1. A report for one of my history classes (is / are) about Elizabeth Keckley, an African American who became the dressmaker for and confidante of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln.

  1. Keckley in her early years (was / were) enslaved in Virginia.

  1. Keckley’s talents in the art of dressmaking (was / were ) so considerable that she was able to help support the family.

  1. In 1885 Keckley, with the help of loans from her customers, (was / were) able to purchase her freedom.

  1. To me, Keckley’s irrepressible longings for freedom and dignity (seems /seem) extraordinary.

  1. Keckley, as a personal friend of the Lincolns, (was /were ) privy to many family matters in the White House

  1. Her opinions about the White House (was / were) published in 1869 in a book entitled Behind the Scenes.

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