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Grammar Tutorial


Many sentences look more complicated than they really are because they have interrupting phrases. An interrupting phrase is a group of words that come between the simple subject and the verb. Because of these interrupters, it is easy to make an error in subject-verb agreement. Many interrupters are prepositional phrases.

The building with white shutters needs painting.

A prepositional phrase is a word group that starts with a preposition and ends with a noun or pronoun. The prepositional phrase can be removed and the sentence will still be complete.

A preposition is a word that connects a noun with another part of the sentence. There are many of them in English. Here are some common prepositions:

above, at, before, between, by, for, from, in, into, near, of, on, through, to, under, with

When you write a sentence with a prepositional phrase, use these three steps to make sure the subject and verb agree.

1. Draw a line through any prepositional phrases.

My mothers' cake and my father's pizza with vegetables (is, are) my favorite foods.

2. Find the subject.

My mother's cake and my father's pizza

3. Choose the verb that agrees with the subject.

My mother's cake and my father's pizza with vegetables are my favorite foods.

A group of words can make interrupting prepositional phrases especially troublesome. These are words that seem to make the subject plural. Actually, they introduce an interrupting phrase. Some of them are:

as well as

along with


in addition to



together with

These words usually introduce phrases that are set off by commas. Treat the phrase as an interrupter, not as part of the subject.

My sister, along with her boyfriend, likes jazz.

Learn more about prepositions



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