Identify the underlined error in the following excerpt:

More than 20 ceiling fan manufacturers, the American Lighting Association (ALA), and leading energy conservation groups invites everyone to join the fight to reduce energy consumption by turning off their central cooling systems and relying on ceiling, floor, desk, and wall fans to save trillions of kilowatt hours of energy consumption.

  1. American Lighting Association (ALA)
  2. invites
  3. their
  4. desk, and wall fans
  5. no errors

The answer says:

"Invites" does not match the plural subject of the sentence.

This is very vague explanation. Can someone please elaborate.


The subject of the sentence is a long list of nouns beginning '20 ceiling manufacturers...' and ending '...conservation groups'. That list is certainly plural. What action is performed by the subject of the sentence? the issue of an invitation. The verb is invite which must be in plural form to match the plural subject: that is it must be "invite". You can test this by replacing the subject with the relevant pronoun "they": they invite NOT they invites.

'Their' is fine because it refers to all the people being invited to do something, namely 'everyone'.

'desk and wall fans' is OK too, but whoever set the question was hoping that someone would think that 'desk' or 'wall' ought to be plural in line with 'fans'.

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