English subject-verb agreement is one of the most important aspects of the English language and is often overlooked by many writers. As a copy editor, it is essential to understand and apply the rules of subject-verb agreement to ensure that your content is grammatically correct and easy to read.
Subject-verb agreement is the matching of the subject in a sentence with the correct verb form. This means that the verb must always agree with the number and person of the subject. For example, if the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular, and if the subject is plural, the verb must likewise be plural.
Here are a few key notes on English subject-verb agreement that every writer should keep in mind:
1. Agreement with singular subjects:
The verb must always agree with the singular subject. A singular subject requires a singular verb. For example, “The cat sleeps on the sofa.” Here, “cat” is the singular subject, and “sleeps” is the singular verb.
2. Agreement with plural subjects:
When the subject of the sentence is plural, the verb should be plural too. For example, “The dogs bark in the park.” Here, “dogs” is the plural subject, and “bark” is the plural verb.
3. Agreement with compound subjects:
Compound subjects are two or more nouns or pronouns joined by “and.” When using compound subjects, the verb should be plural. For example, “John and Sarah are coming to the party.” Here, “John” and “Sarah” are two subjects joined by “and,” and the plural verb “are” agrees with the compound subject.
4. Agreement with collective nouns:
A collective noun refers to a group of people or things. Collective nouns can be singular or plural, depending on the context. For example, “The team is practicing for the game” and “The team are arguing among themselves.” In the first sentence, “team” is a singular collective noun, and “is” is the singular verb, while in the second sentence, “team” is a plural collective noun, and “are” is the plural verb.
5. Agreement with indefinite pronouns:
Indefinite pronouns, like “anyone,” “everyone,” “someone,” “no one,” and “everyone,” are always singular and should take a singular verb. For example, “Someone is knocking on the door.”
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is essential to creating clear and effective writing. By following these notes, you can ensure that your writing is grammatically correct and easy to understand. As a copy editor, it is your job to identify and correct any errors in subject-verb agreement to help improve the quality of the content.
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