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I am trying to understand Subject Verb Agreement, but I am having trouble understanding why some subjects are plural and others are singular. So far, I understand that a verb is based on a noun's plurality/singularity.

Below are the sentences that I am having trouble understanding. They are from The College Panda SAT Writing workbook. Although the book gives answers to the question, it offers no explanation to them.

Some of the superpowers I dream of having (includes/include) summoning jack o' lanterns on people's lawns during Halloween and making people burst into the Gangnam style dance.

I think the subject in this sentence is "dream", which is singular. Therefore, includes should be the correct answer, but it is not. My guess is because superpowers are the correct subject (because it is plural). I thought "of the superpowers" was a prepositional phrase because it started with and is followed by a noun.

Harry, along with Ron and Hermione, (attends/attend) Hogwarts School of Wizardry.

Now "along" and "with" are both prepositions, it would make sense to cross them out. But I don't understand why Ron and Hermione are not apart of the subject. If it was the answer that would be "attend" (plural).

The extent of our universe and those beyond constantly (amazes/amaze) me.

Since there is an and joining two nouns I assumed the verb was plural. "extent" was the only other subject I could think of that would make sense. I don't understand how "extent" could be the subject? My theory is that "of our universe and those beyond constantly" is a prepositional phrase, but "of" is followed by our, which is not a noun.

Dreams within a dream that (is/are) spliced and diced up inside another dream (confuses/confuse) me.

I am just confused about which verb is related to which subject. I understood that "Dreams" and "confuse" go together. However, I didn't know that "dream" and "is" go together, how do I learn to pair them (bc dream is in a prepositional phrase)? The same thing for sentences like "The lines for the elevator that normally (carries/carry) just five passengers (was/were) reinstalled because the crowd of fat commuters (was/were) too heavy for it."

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I hope I can answer you correctly. I'll determine which Verb form you should use and the subject

Some of the superpowers I dream of having (includes/include) summoning jack o' lanterns on people's lawns during Halloween and making people burst into the Gangnam style dance.

When Some is used, the prepositional phrase says how the verb will be conjugated, thereby making the verb in 3rd person plural. If it were singular (eg. Some water), it would be singular.

And Of Superpowers is indeed a prepositional phrase, but since it's followed by "Some", it is the subject of the sentence.

The I dream of having is a relative clause. I'll put "that" so that you can see it. Look:

Some of the superpowers that I dream of having. — You see that "I" is conjugating "Dream", therefore it isn't a noun.

2nd example:

Harry, along with Ron and Hermione, (attends/attend) Hogwarts School of Wizardry.

According to the site I'll leave bellow, "along with + something" doesn't make part of the subject

"When (the head word of) the subject is separated from the verb by expressions starting with words such as along with, as well as, and besides, ignore these expressions when determining whether to use a singular or plural verb: Example: The politician, ~~along with the journalist~~ , is expected tomorrow."

3rd example

The extent of our universe and those beyond constantly (amazes/amaze) me.

The Extent of our universe and those beyond is the subject, but, remember that prepositional phrases can't be the subjects most of the time? Therefore, the one who is conjugating the verb is The extent

According to Cambridge, prepositional phrases consist of a preposition and the complement, and the preposition is not only followed by a noun, but also a pronoun.

Would you like to come with me please? (preposition + pronoun)

Also, Our is only a determiner, and since there's the noun right after, I believe it is still a prepositional phrase.

Last two:I'll put in Italic the one with the Singular subject and verb and in Bold the one with plural subject and verb

Dreams within a dream that (is/are) spliced and diced up inside another dream (confuses/confuse) me.

I really understand why you're struggling so much with this. These types of sentences can even confuse native speakers.

Let's eliminate the relative clause for now.

Dreams within a dream confuse me.

Do you see that "Dreams" is the subject conjugating "confuse"? And since "within a dream" is a prepositional phrase, it can't be the subject conjugating the main verb "confuse"?

Let's get the relative clause back.

~Dreams~ within a dream that is sliced and diced up inside another dream ~confuse me~

This is where it gets complicated, since the relative clause refers to the "a dream", although it is a prepositional phrase. I think you might be overthinking about it. I believe that prepositional phrases can conjugate a verb if it is a relative clause referring to them. I'll talk about your second example to attempt to illustrate my point.

"The lines for the elevator that normally (carries/carry) just five passengers (was/were) reinstalled; [...]"

Ok, so if "Lines" were the subject conjugating "carry" (which also would be on account of the way the sentence was structured), it wouldn't make much sense, because they can't "carry" people. But it makes sense if it is the elevator, even though it is preceded by a preposition.

[...] because the crowd of fat commuters (was/were) too heavy for it."

Prepositional phrases can't conjugate verbs, except if they're in a relative clause or preceded by "Some,etc," , which aren't the case here. And "Crowd" is a singular noun, hence the verb conjugated that way.

Sorry for kinda "guessing" these two last examples without having any source of information (I couldn't find one, I have learned it through immersion), but it is indeed true, since you can see people saying it all the time. And don't sweat over too much about prepositional phrases, English isn't math, so it does have a lot of exceptions (and even math does too). I hope I helped.

Sources:

https://awelu.srv.lu.se/grammar-and-words/common-problems-and-how-to-avoid-them/subject-verb-agreement/subjects-containing-along-with-as-well-as-and-besides/#:~:text=When%20(the%20head%20word%20of,journalist%2C%5D%20is%20expected%20tomorrow. — Your second example

https://grammar.yourdictionary.com/sentences/20-rules-of-subject-verb-agreement.html — Rules in general about it.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/dictionary.cambridge.org/amp/british-grammar/prepositional-phrases — Prepositional Phrases in general

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    Thank you so much! This really helped me understand the confusing parts. I just have a minor doubt about "The lines for...," the prep phrase (for...elevator) is before the relative phrase (that...carries), right? If this is the cause the prep phrase isn't in a relative clause, so shouldn't "elevator" not conjugate "carries"? Also, how would you feel if I said I am a native English speaker? – Aditya Kendre Sep 2 '20 at 16:24
  • Glad that I helped! Is your question like: If the prepositional phrase is before the relative one, and it isn't in the relative clause, shouldn't "elevator" conjugate "carry"?; I think this sentence is kinda ambiguous, because depending on how you conjugate the verb, either "lines" or "elevator" could be used as subj. And prep phrases mostly aren't inside a relative clause to be the subject. I don't know if this is the question you wanted to ask (I got confused sorry), so I'll wait for your answer before I update the answer. – Jason O'Neil Sep 3 '20 at 4:49
  • And sorry for thinking you weren't a native speaker, I'm really sorry and I shouldn't have presumed your nationality. – Jason O'Neil Sep 3 '20 at 4:59
  • Btw Prep phrases can't conjugate main verbs, I guess. "The lines of the elevator were reinstalled" - the verb to be is the main verb. The verb inside relative clauses aren't the main verb, so I think that's the reason prep purses can conjugate relative clauses too. That's the reason "for... elevator", for example, can conjugate verbs of relative/adj clauses. – Jason O'Neil Sep 3 '20 at 5:01

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