As a copy editor, one of the most important aspects of writing that I encounter is subject-verb agreement. It can be a tricky topic, but it is essential to master for anyone who wants to write high-quality content. In this article, I will answer some common questions about subject-verb agreement to help you improve your writing.
What is subject-verb agreement?
Subject-verb agreement is simply the rule that the subject of a sentence must agree in number with the verb that follows it. In other words, if the subject is singular, the verb must be singular, and if the subject is plural, the verb must be plural.
– The cat chases the mouse. (singular subject, singular verb)
– The cats chase the mice. (plural subject, plural verb)
What happens if the subject and verb don`t agree?
If the subject and verb do not agree in number, it can make the sentence difficult to read and understand. For example:
– The cat chases the mice. (incorrect, because the subject is singular while the verb is plural)
– The cats chases the mouse. (incorrect, because the subject is plural while the verb is singular)
To fix these sentences, you would need to change the verb to agree with the subject. For example:
– The cat chases the mouse. (correct)
– The cats chase the mice. (correct)
What about collective nouns?
Collective nouns are words that refer to groups of people or things, such as « team, » « family, » or « audience. » They can be tricky when it comes to subject-verb agreement because they can be either singular or plural, depending on context.
– The team is playing well. (singular)
– The team are arguing with each other. (plural)
In general, if you are referring to the group as a single unit, use a singular verb. If you are referring to the individuals within the group, use a plural verb.
What about indefinite pronouns?
Indefinite pronouns are words like « everyone, » « someone, » or « anyone » that refer to people in general, rather than specific individuals. These pronouns can also be tricky when it comes to subject-verb agreement because they can be either singular or plural, depending on context.
– Everyone is here. (singular)
– Everyone brought their own lunch. (plural)
In general, when an indefinite pronoun is used as the subject of a sentence, it is usually singular. When it is used as an object, it is usually plural.
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is a crucial aspect of writing that can make or break the quality of your content. By understanding the rules and practicing regularly, you can improve your writing and make your work more professional and polished.