Preparing children for uncertainties [keeps or keep] them in readiness to face any challenges.

Which verb is correct?

This is a question from sentence improvement. Answer given in answer key is "Preparing children for uncertainties keeps them in readiness to face any challenges". I think the answer is wrong as the subject children is plural.

  • 2
    Look up "gerundial noun" and then reconsider your question. It is more suitable for the English Language Learners site.
    – Anton
    Aug 6 at 8:55
  • A more interesting question is whether keep is acceptable due to notional agreement. Lousy question anyway - keeps doesn't really work here with preparation and in readiness is not idiomatic here. Basically, the problem is that nobody would ever say this.
    – Phil Sweet
    Aug 6 at 9:32
  • 1
    Note that the subject here is singular gerund/noun preparing, not plural uncertainties Aug 6 at 11:04

2 Answers 2


The subject here is "preparing". It is a gerund and treated as singular.

The word "children" is the object of the gerund "preparing". Compare with

Helping us is part of your job.

Note that the pronoun "us" takes the object form, indicating that it isn't the subject of the sentence.


Preparing children for uncertainties keeps them in [a state of] readiness to face any challenge.


Preparing children for uncertainty keeps them in [a state of] readiness to face any challenge.

Or better yet:

Preparing children to face uncertainties keeps them ready to face [all] challenges.

But if you're only asking whether it's keep or keeps, keeps is correct. It is referring to the preparing, rather than the children. To be able to answer this by yourself the next time, you should ask one question: Who keeps the children? The Preparing keeps the children...

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