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12.10 Subject-Verb Agreement: Fun with Grammar

Who's Going to the SuperBowl?

This game needs three or four players: two opponents and one or two referees. Starting with a base sentence in the present tense, each opponent invents a new modifier or subject before the verb, challenging the other opponent to add the new material correctly to the ever-growing sentence. The referee(s) must determine whether each sentence follows the rules of subject-verb agreement. Here's how one round might begin:

Base sentence:   Tim's landlord is going to the Super Bowl.
Opponent 1, challenge:  . . . who wears green boots. . .
Opponent 2, response:  Tim's landlord, who wears green boots, is going to the Super Bowl.
Opponent 2, challenge:  . . . when his kids aren't looking. . .
Opponent 1, response:  Tim's landlord, who wears green boots when his kids aren't looking, is going to the Super Bowl.
Opponent 1, challenge:  . . . and his new girlfriend . . .
Opponent 2, response:  Tim's landlord, who wears green boots when his kids aren't looking, and his new girlfriend are going to the Super Bowl.
Opponent 1, challenge:  . . . who has a big white van. . .

Rules

  1. Referees write down each new challenge phrase. Opponents, however, may not read or write during the game. They must work from memory.

  2. Referees may call foul whenever a response is incomplete or incorrect, or when a response places the challenging phrase after the verb instead of in front of it.

  3. When an opponent gets a foul call, the challenger may try to give the correct response. If the challenger succeeds, the opponent must step down and trade places with one of the referees who plays a new round with the successful challenger. If, however, the challenger fails to respond correctly to his or her own challenge, he or she must step down and trade places with a referee, who becomes an opponent for the next round.

  4. Referees keep score: each opponent gets one point for each correct response.

    Each round starts with the same base sentence, and each new round involves a different pair of opponents. Players who succeed in responding to their own challenges earn the right to remain for additional rounds. Play continues until each member of the group has played at least one round.


Tips for challenges. Invent:

  1. prepositional phrases or clauses that include nouns conflicting with the number of the existing verb
  2. phrases that include the word and or or, which may change the correctness of the existing verb
  3. phrases that may be hard for your opponent, but not for you, to remember

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