Notes of Subject Verb Agreement

As a copy editor, it`s essential to have a keen eye for grammatical errors, including subject-verb agreement. This rule is fundamental in English grammar as it ensures that the subject and verb match in number, which means that a singular subject takes a singular verb, while a plural subject takes a plural verb.

The following are some notes to keep in mind when dealing with subject-verb agreement.

Singular vs. Plural

The first step in ensuring proper subject-verb agreement is identifying whether the subject is singular or plural. A singular subject refers to one person, place, thing, or idea. On the other hand, a plural subject refers to multiple people, places, things, or ideas.

For example, “the cat” is a singular subject, while “the cats” is a plural subject.

Basic rule

When a subject is singular, the verb should be singular too. Similarly, when the subject is plural, the verb should also be plural.

For example, “the cat is” is correct while “the cat are” is incorrect. “The cats are” is correct while “the cats is” is incorrect.

Collective Nouns

Collective nouns refer to a group of people, animals, or things. Examples of collective nouns include choir, team, audience, committee, and family. The rule with collective nouns is that if the group is acting as a unit, the verb should be singular. However, if individuals in the group are acting independently, the verb should be plural.

For example, “the team is playing well” is correct, while “the team are playing well” is incorrect.

Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns include everyone, anyone, someone, nobody, somebody, and everybody. The rule with indefinite pronouns is that singular indefinite pronouns take singular verbs, while plural indefinite pronouns take plural verbs.

For example, “everyone is” is correct while “everyone are” is incorrect. “Somebody is” is correct while “somebody are” is incorrect.

Subject-Verb Agreement with Compound Subjects

Compound subjects refer to two or more subjects that are joined by conjunctions such as “and,” “or,” or “nor.” The rule with compound subjects is that if they are joined by “and,” the subject is plural, and the verb should be plural. However, if they are joined by “or” or “nor,” the verb agrees with the subject closest to it.

For example, “John and Mary are” is correct while “John and Mary is” is incorrect. “Either John or Mary is” is correct while “Either John or Mary are” is incorrect.

In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is an essential grammatical rule that every writer should know. By keeping these notes in mind, copy editors can ensure that written content is grammatically correct and communicates ideas clearly and effectively.