Subject-verb agreement is an essential aspect of grammar that can affect the clarity and effectiveness of a written piece. In English, subject-verb agreement is the relationship between the subject and the verb, where the verb must agree with the subject in terms of number, person, and tense. In this article, we will discuss 12 rules of subject-verb agreement that will help improve your writing.
1. Basic agreement rule
The basic rule of subject-verb agreement is that a singular subject requires a singular verb, and a plural subject requires a plural verb. For example, “The cat jumps” is correct, while “The cat jump” is incorrect.
2. Collective nouns
When using a collective noun, the verb can be singular or plural depending on how the noun is used in the sentence. For example, “The team is practicing” is correct, while “The team are practicing” is incorrect.
3. Indefinite pronouns
Indefinite pronouns such as everyone, somebody, and nobody are always singular and require a singular verb. For example, “Everyone is here” is correct, while “Everyone are here” is incorrect.
4. Compound subjects
When two or more subjects are joined by “and,” the verb should be plural. For example, “John and Jane are going to the party” is correct.
5. Or and nor
When using “or” or “nor” to join two subjects, the verb must agree with the subject closest to it. For example, “Neither John nor Jane is going to the party” is correct.
6. Either/or and neither/nor
When using “either/or” or “neither/nor” to join two subjects, the verb must agree with the subject closer to the verb. For example, “Either John or Jane is going to the party” is correct.
7. Prepositional phrases
Avoid letting prepositional phrases impact subject-verb agreement. The verb must agree with the subject, not the object of the preposition. For example, “The box of chocolates is on the table” is correct.
8. Titles of works
Titles of works such as books, movies, and songs are singular and require a singular verb. For example, “The book was published last year” is correct.
Some quantifiers such as “each,” “every,” and “many a” are always singular and require a singular verb. For example, “Each student has a book” is correct.
10. Fractional expressions
Fractional expressions such as “half of,” “a part of,” and “a percentage of” are singular or plural depending on the noun that follows them. For example, “Half of the pie is gone” is correct.
11. Plural nouns with a singular meaning
Some nouns such as “news,” “economics,” and “politics” are plural but take a singular verb. For example, “News is breaking” is correct.
12. Indicating time or amount
When indicating time or amount, the verb can be either singular or plural depending on the noun that follows it. For example, “Three dollars is all I have” is correct.
In summary, subject-verb agreement is a crucial aspect of grammar that ensures clear and effective writing. By following these 12 rules, you can improve your writing and convey your message effectively. Remember, always ensure that the verb agrees in number, person, and tense with the subject, and you`ll be on your way to becoming a better writer.