Subject-verb agreement is an essential element in grammar, and it plays a crucial role in effective communication. As a professional, I have observed that many writers overlook the importance of subject-verb agreement, leading to ambiguity and confusion in their writing. In this article, we will discuss the ten basic rules of subject-verb agreement, which will help you to write clear, concise, and grammatically correct content.
1. The verb must agree with its subject in number
Number refers to the singular or plural form of the subject. The verb must agree with the number of the subject. For example, „She runs” (singular) versus „They run” (plural).
2. Singular subjects take singular verbs, and plural subjects take plural verbs
For example, „The cat jumps” (singular subject and verb) versus „The cats jump” (plural subject and verb).
3. Collective Nouns
Collective nouns like team, family, group, or committee can be singular or plural based on context. If the group is acting as a single entity, it takes a singular verb. If the individuals in the group are acting independently, it takes a plural verb. For example, „The team is playing well” versus „The team are playing their best.”
4. Indefinite Pronouns
Indefinite pronouns like anyone, everyone, someone, nobody, everybody, and each take a singular verb. For example, „Everyone is here,” not „Everyone are here.”
5. Singular noun phrases joined by „and”
When two singular noun phrases are joined by „and,” it creates a plural subject that takes a plural verb. For example, „Bread and butter are her favorite breakfast foods.”
6. „Not only/but also” construction
When „not only” or „but also” is used to join subjects, the verb must agree with the closest subject. For example, „Not only the students but also the teacher was impressed by the performance.”
7. Either/or and neither/nor
Either/or and neither/nor constructions take singular verbs. For example, „Either the cat or the dog is going to the vet.”
8. „There is” or „There are”
In sentences that begin with „there is” or „there are,” the verb must agree with the subject following the verb. For example, „There is a book on the table” versus „There are books on the table.”
9. Verbs ending in -s
Verbs ending in -s in the present tense are usually singular, while those that do not end in -s are usually plural. For example, „He jumps” versus „They jump.”
When a title is used as a subject, the verb must agree with the title. For example, „The Lord of the Rings is a great book,” not „The Lord of the Rings are a great book.”
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is a crucial aspect of effective writing that ensures clear communication. By following these ten basic rules, you can avoid common errors and write grammatically correct content. As a professional, I highly recommend taking the time to ensure subject-verb agreement is correct in all written content.