Subject-verb agreement is a crucial aspect of the English language, as it ensures that the verb used in a sentence matches the subject in number and person. When the subject of a sentence is singular, the verb should be in the singular form, and vice versa. This rule may seem simple, but it can be tricky when the subject is complex or when the sentence includes additional phrases or clauses.
Here are some examples of subject-verb agreement that you should keep in mind to avoid errors in your writing:
1. Collective nouns
Collective nouns refer to a group of individuals, such as a team, herd, or flock. When using a collective noun as the subject of a sentence, the verb should correspond to whether the group is acting as a single unit or as individuals.
For example, “The team is playing well” refers to the team as a single unit, so the verb is in the singular form. In contrast, “The team are arguing with each other” refers to the team as individuals, so the verb is in the plural form.
2. Indefinite pronouns
Indefinite pronouns such as everyone, somebody, and anything are singular and require a singular verb.
For example, “Everyone is invited to the party” and “Somebody has left their jacket here” are correct because the verbs are in the singular form.
3. Compound subjects
A compound subject consists of two or more nouns or pronouns joined by the conjunctions `and` or `or`. When the compound subject is joined by `and`, the verb is in the plural form, but when it`s joined by `or`, the verb agrees with the subject closest to it.
For example, “John and Mary are going to the movies” and “Either the cat or the dog is responsible for the mess” are correct because the verbs match the subjects.
4. Prepositional phrases
When a prepositional phrase comes between the subject and the verb, it can lead to errors in subject-verb agreement. The verb should agree with the subject, irrespective of the prepositional phrase that comes between them.
For example, “The book on the shelf is mine” is correct because the verb agrees with the subject `book`, and the prepositional phrase `on the shelf` doesn`t affect the agreement.
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is necessary for clear and effective communication in writing. Knowing the different rules and applying them correctly will ensure that your writing is grammatically correct and professional.