A pride of lions ____________ up to forty lions. Including one to three males, several females, and cubs.

(A) can contain
(B) it contains
(C) contain
(D) containing

Why the answer is "A" NOT C?

I know that the object is a pride of lions so we need subject + verb so the answer must be it contains.

  • You've used a similar construction in the last sentence of your question. You say "the answer must be", not "the answer *it be". Match up the terms to identify the pattern: a pride of lions / the answer; can / must; contain / be.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Dec 9, 2017 at 15:15
  • So ... why didn't you use "it be"? The answer to that question might help explain why can contain works better than it contains in your quote.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Dec 9, 2017 at 15:20

1 Answer 1


The answer is simple: because the subject is a pride, which demands a singular verb not a plural one. In more detail:

  • A is unmarked for number, so can be used for either singular or plural.
  • B duplicates the subject ungrammatically.
  • C is a plural verb so you cannot use it with sentence’s singular subject
  • D is not a finite verb.

The answer can therefore only be A.

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