Correcting a concord error in a sentence

Here is an example of a typical question in Paper I (Question5):

Correct the error of concord in this sentence:

The group of clever students are hoping to earn distinctions in all their examinations.

Advice on answering such a question:

  • Make sure that you understand what concord is and what the rules of concord are:

Concord is the relationship between the subject (Who or what the sentence is about) and the verb in a sentence. If the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular. If the subject is in the plural form, the verb must also be in the plural form.

In the above sentence, the subject is “Group” and it is in the singular. (Do not get confused by the word, “Boys, “ which is in the plural). The sentence is about a group; boys are mentioned only as a way of specifying what the group is made up of.

The verb in this sentence is, “Are hoping.” The word, “Hoping,” is the main verb describing the action being done and the verb, “Are,” is the auxiliary verb helping us to quantify how many people are doing the action of hoping. “Are,” refers to many people and therefore makes the verb plural.

The relationship between the subject and verb is therefore faulty because we have a Singular Subject-Plural Verb situation. To correct a concord error, one must always change the verb, not the subject. What or who the sentence is about must not change just because you want to have correct concord.

After changing the verb, “Are,” to the singular form (“Is”), a Singular Subject-Singular Verb relationship is created. The new corrected sentence thus reads:

The group of clever students is hoping to earn distinctions in all their examinations.

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