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Course: SAT > Unit 11

Lesson 3: Writing: Grammar

Writing: Noun Agreement — Video Lesson

David shows you how to do a Noun Agreement question on the SAT Writing and Language test. Created by David Rheinstrom.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] We're looking at question two today. So I'm gonna read this whole paragraph under the Antiquities Act of 1906, the Organic Act of 1916 and other federal laws, the U.S. Government has the power to take custody of land when having historical significance or great natural beauty. The designation of a territory as a national park, national monument, or other types of protected area, can limit activities such as oil drilling and logging and provide funding for staff to work on preservation, maintenance, and visitor assistance. Okay, so the underlined portion for question two, types of protected area, is the no change option, that's choice A, choice B is type of protected area, choice C is type of protected areas, and D is protected area types. So the only thing that's changing around in these choices except for D which moves the order of the words around is the number of the nouns, sometimes type is singular, sometimes it's plural as types, same deal with area versus areas. So that means that this is a noun agreement question, and you're likely only going to see one of these questions on the writing and language portion of your SAT. And what these questions ask you to do is make sure that you use plural nouns when plural nouns are called for and singular nouns when a singular noun is called for. Like if I say, my dogs ran excitedly to the door, wagging their tail, it's unlikely that multiple dogs only have one tail among them to wag, so the correct way to phrase that would be to change tail to tails. Let me hold here for a second and pause the video if you wanna take a crack at this question yourself. All right, let's get going. Let's see if there's anything in the sentence that feels plural or singular. The designation of a territory as a national park, national monument or other blank of protected blank. Well, we're designating a singular territory, a territory, as a national park or a national monument. So it's a singular territory, a singular park or a singular monument. It's unlikely that you'd take one territory and say, this is two national parks, we're talking about one. So since we're talking about turning a singular territory into a singular kind of protected area, it follows that a territory would be a singular type, not types. So that knocks out choices A and D because they use the plural, types. That leaves choices, B and C, are we talking about one kind of protected area or multiple kinds of protected areas? We're looking for a singular thing, a type of area, we're talking about three possible designations, a territory, a national park and some unspecified designation but all three are singular, a territory, a national park, the designation, and that means we're looking to match up with singular nouns, type and area to match with territory or park. And our only choice with two singular nouns is B, type of protected area. What I'm doing here is really leaning on parallel structure, we see that the rest of the sentence is full of singular nouns, so what maintains the pattern best? It's choice B. This question didn't some of the telltale hints I would otherwise look for in a noun agreement question. There weren't any verbs we could lean on to tell us if we were looking for a singular or a plural noun like dogs are domesticated animal, and that should be animals because we not only have this plural hint but we also have, are, that's another plural hint. And there weren't descriptive asides that would introduce other nouns like, dogs which are furry, domesticated animals are kept as pet by humans, and we would add an S to that. And so we not only have the hint of, are, here but we also have plural animals and of course, plural dogs. So your strategy would be to look for hints elsewhere in the paragraph to see if there's pronouns, verbs, other nouns that can tell you whether or not the underlined word or phrase should be singular or plural. And once you've made that binary decision, you can knock out a few choices, and make finding the answer that much easier.