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Grammar question - subject/verb agreement


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This sentence is in dd10's grammar text:

 

A paragraph is a group of sentences that develop a single topic.

 

If you do the "Easy Grammar" thing and eliminate all the prepositional phrases before determining what the subject is and what the verb is, I believe you would end up with:

 

A paragraph is a group that develop a single topic.

 

If that is true (which I am not at all sure of) then the subject would be "paragraph" and the verb would be "is."

 

How does "group that develop a single topic" fit in? I'm clueless. I know basic diagraming but this is beyond my scope. The thing is that, to me anyway, "a group that develop" doesn't sound right to me. Did I not get the whole prepositional phrase out of the way?

 

Is the whole pp "of sentences that develop a single topic"?

 

It's not an exercise in the book; it's just that when I read the sentence it just sounded like it ought to say "is a group of sentences that develops." Does that make any sense?

 

These are the sorts of things that keep me from getting dinner on the table on time.:D

 

ETA: I just realized that the problem is NOT subject/verb agreement, but I'm still confused.

Edited by Kathleen in VA
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I think that the phrase "that develop a single topic" is a modifier of the object of the preposition, "sentences". So I think that the sentence is correct as written, but that you can't just x out the prepositional phrase in this case.

 

What does AG do when there is a phrase modifying a prepositional phrase? Do they x out the modifier as well?

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I think that the phrase "that develop a single topic" is a modifier of the object of the preposition, "sentences". So I think that the sentence is correct as written, but that you can't just x out the prepositional phrase in this case.

 

What does AG do when there is a phrase modifying a prepositional phrase? Do they x out the modifier as well?

 

If you condense this sentence to the absolute bare skeleton, you have:

 

Paragraph is group. Group develops. So I think the sentence was written incorrectly. But then again, I can see what you are saying in terms of the modifier. So I'd love to hear from an expert. LOL.

 

 

Ria

Edited by Ria
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I think that the phrase "that develop a single topic" is a modifier of the object of the preposition, "sentences". So I think that the sentence is correct as written, but that you can't just x out the prepositional phrase in this case.

 

What does AG do when there is a phrase modifying a prepositional phrase? Do they x out the modifier as well?

 

See, this is what I thought might be the case. I've just never gotten that deep into parsing a sentence before. I do a little proofreading for a bit of extra cash so I'm prone to over analyzing everything I read. For some reason this particular sentence just hit me weird. I really like to know exactly what is going on in a sentence just in case I ever run into the problem in my work. It does make sense that the sentences do the developing of the topic, but when I did the pp elimination "trick" it fell apart. I would like to know if that pp elimination works every time or if it has its limits such as in this sentence.

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If you condense this sentence to the absolute bare skeleton, you have:

 

Paragraph is group. Group develops. So I think the sentence was written incorrectly.

 

 

Ria

 

That's the way it hit me too. I didn't actually get down to the skeletons but now that you point it out like that it makes more sense. This sentence is on page 48 of the Rod & Staff 4th grade grammar text.

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That's the way it hit me too. I didn't actually get down to the skeletons but now that you point it out like that it makes more sense. This sentence is on page 48 of the Rod & Staff 4th grade grammar text.

 

LOL, but the others' argument makes sense, too. I'm getting too old for this. LOL.

 

Ria

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A paragraph is a group of sentences that develop a single topic.

 

Subject - A paragraph

linking verb - is

predicate nominative - a group

prepositional phrase that modifies GROUP - of sentences

adjective clause - that develop(s) a single topic

 

The question is: Does that adjective clause modify GROUP or SENTENCES? This is where intent comes in. The relative pronoun in an adjective clause (that) can have as its antecedent (the word the pronoun refers to) any noun. That antecedent can be the subject, predicate nominative or object of a preposition. That's why removing the prepositional phrases doesn't really help. Just like a regular adjective, an adjective clause can modify the object of a preposition.

 

So, I think it's hard to debate that the adjective clause modifies GROUP. The group (the paragraph) develops the topic, the sentences (alone) don't develop the topic. That being said, it seem whoever wrote that sentence seems to think that it's the sentences that develop the topic.

 

That's a long-winded way of saying that I disagree with the sentence as written. I think it should be DEVELOPS.

 

blessings,

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A paragraph is a group of sentences that develop a single topic.

 

Subject - A paragraph

linking verb - is

predicate nominative - a group

prepositional phrase that modifies GROUP - of sentences

adjective clause - that develop(s) a single topic

 

The question is: Does that adjective clause modify GROUP or SENTENCES? This is where intent comes in. The relative pronoun in an adjective clause (that) can have as its antecedent (the word the pronoun refers to) any noun. That antecedent can be the subject, predicate nominative or object of a preposition. That's why removing the prepositional phrases doesn't really help. Just like a regular adjective, an adjective clause can modify the object of a preposition.

 

So, I think it's hard to debate that the adjective clause modifies GROUP. The group (the paragraph) develops the topic, the sentences (alone) don't develop the topic. That being said, it seem whoever wrote that sentence seems to think that it's the sentences that develop the topic.

 

That's a long-winded way of saying that I disagree with the sentence as written. I think it should be DEVELOPS.

 

blessings,

 

 

EXACTLY. :iagree:

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A paragraph is a group of sentences that develop a single topic.

 

Subject - A paragraph

linking verb - is

predicate nominative - a group

prepositional phrase that modifies GROUP - of sentences

adjective clause - that develop(s) a single topic

 

The question is: Does that adjective clause modify GROUP or SENTENCES? This is where intent comes in. The relative pronoun in an adjective clause (that) can have as its antecedent (the word the pronoun refers to) any noun. That antecedent can be the subject, predicate nominative or object of a preposition. That's why removing the prepositional phrases doesn't really help. Just like a regular adjective, an adjective clause can modify the object of a preposition.

 

So, I think it's hard to debate that the adjective clause modifies GROUP. The group (the paragraph) develops the topic, the sentences (alone) don't develop the topic. That being said, it seem whoever wrote that sentence seems to think that it's the sentences that develop the topic.

 

That's a long-winded way of saying that I disagree with the sentence as written. I think it should be DEVELOPS.

 

blessings,

 

 

I disagree. The sentences develop the topic. The group doesn't develop. Every sentence must develop the topic, which is covered in many other R&S grammar lessons. So "that develop the topic" modifies sentences, not group. It's correct as written.

 

I'm also puzzled by this statement: "That being said, it seem whoever wrote that sentence seems to think that it's the sentences that develop the topic." That's exactly the case, and isn't that what correct use of language is about? Saying what you mean? If the author said what he meant (that the phrase modifies sentences) how could it be wrong?

Edited by OC Mom
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I disagree. The sentences develop the topic. The group doesn't develop. Every sentence must develop the topic, which is covered in many other R&S grammar lessons. So "that develop the topic" modifies sentences, not group. It's correct as written.

 

I'm also puzzled by this statement: "That being said, it seem whoever wrote that sentence seems to think that it's the sentences that develop the topic." That's exactly the case, and isn't that what correct use of language is about? Saying what you mean? If the author said what he meant (that the phrase modifies sentences) how could it be wrong?

 

 

This is the part of grammar that can be debated (and is!). I can see your case. Were I faced with writing a sentence to make this point, I would rewrite it.

 

A paragraph is made up of sentences that develop a single topic.

 

Then there is no arguing! LOL:tongue_smilie:

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A paragraph is a group of sentences that develop a single topic.

 

 

 

I remember puzzling over this, too, last year.

 

After reading other explanations here about relative pronouns, antecedents, and adjective clauses, I think this sentence is correctly written, and I agree with the writer's thought in the way it's conveyed - the sentences develop a single topic - he/she used grammar to convey this idea. And the writer's precise use of grammar in the sentence helps me to understand exactly what a paragraph is! And his/her idea makes sense to me.

 

I think the whole prepositional phrase is "of sentences that develop a single topic" - you would eliminate this whole phrase to find the subject and verb of the sentence. And I think "that develop a single topic" modifies "sentences," so "develop" would agree with "sentences" in number.

 

I also think R&S is brilliant.:D It has given me tools to figure out exactly what someone is trying to convey.

 

This was a fun thread for me to read.

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