Subject-verb agreement is a crucial aspect of grammar that ensures that a sentence makes sense. In English, a verb must agree with its subject in number and person. Subject-verb agreement errors are common in writing, and they can make your content look unprofessional and unintelligible. Here are five rules about subject-verb agreement that you need to keep in mind:
1. Singular subject takes a singular verb, and a plural subject gets a plural verb.
When the subject of the sentence is singular, the verb must also be singular. For example, „The cat is sleeping on the couch.“ Here, the subject „cat“ is singular, and the verb „is“ is also singular, indicating that the cat is performing the action of sleeping. Similarly, if the subject is plural, the verb must be plural. For instance, „The dogs are barking in the park.“ Here, the subject „dogs“ is plural, and the verb „are“ is plural too.
2. Compound subjects take plural verbs.
When the sentence has more than one subject, it is called a compound subject. In such cases, the verb must be plural to reflect the plural nature of the subject. For example, „The cat and the dog are playing in the yard.“ Here, the subject is a compound subject, consisting of „cat“ and „dog,“ so the verb „are“ is plural.
3. Indefinite pronouns require singular verbs.
The indefinite pronouns refer to one or more unspecified objects or persons. Some examples of indefinite pronouns are anybody, everyone, someone, nobody, anything, nothing, etc. When an indefinite pronoun is the subject of the sentence, the verb must be singular. For instance, „Everyone is happy to see you.“ Here, the subject „everyone“ is indefinite pronoun, and the verb is singular to match.
4. Collective nouns can be singular or plural.
Collective nouns refer to groups of people or things, such as team, family, staff, committee, etc. The verb that follows a collective noun can be singular or plural, depending on the context. For example, „The team is playing well today,“ or „The team are celebrating their victory.“ Here, the first sentence uses the singular verb „is,“ and the second sentence uses the plural verb „are.“
5. Don`t be misled by phrases that come between the subject and verb.
Sometimes, there might be a phrase that separates the subject and verb in a sentence. However, this phrase does not affect the agreement of the subject and verb. For example, „The cat, as well as the dog, is sleeping.“ Here, the phrase „as well as the dog“ does not affect the subject-verb agreement, and the verb „is“ agrees with the singular subject „cat.“
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is an essential aspect of English grammar that you need to master to write clearly and effectively. By following these five rules, you can avoid common subject-verb agreement errors and produce well-written content. Always remember to check your writing for subject-verb agreement errors before submitting it for publishing or sharing it with others.