Subject-verb agreement is a fundamental aspect of the English language. It entails that the subject and the verb in a sentence must agree in number, meaning that if the subject is singular, the verb should also be singular. Similarly, if the subject is plural, the verb should also be plural. In essence, subject-verb agreement helps to ensure clarity and accuracy in communication.
When the subject and verb in a sentence do not agree in number, it can result in confusion or ambiguity, making it difficult for the reader or listener to understand the intended message. For instance, consider the sentence, “The group of students are attending the lecture.” In this case, the subject is “group of students,” which is a collective noun that refers to multiple individuals. However, the verb used is “are,” which is plural, and it does not agree with the singular nature of the subject. A better way to write this sentence would be to say, “The group of students is attending the lecture.”
Here are some rules to keep in mind when it comes to subject-verb agreement:
1. Singular subjects take singular verbs, while plural subjects take plural verbs.
– Example: The dog barks loudly. (singular subject and verb)
– The dogs bark loudly. (plural subject and verb)
2. When a subject is separated from the verb by intervening phrases or clauses, it is essential to ensure that the subject and verb still agree in number.
– Example: The girl, along with her friends, is going to the mall. (singular subject and verb)
3. Collective nouns can be singular or plural, depending on the context.
– Example: The committee is meeting today. (singular subject and verb)
– The committee are divided in their opinions. (plural subject and verb)
4. When subjects are joined by “and,” the verb should be plural.
– Example: The cat and the dog are playing in the garden. (plural subject and verb)
5. When subjects are joined by “or” or “nor,” the verb should agree with the subject closest to it.
– Example: Neither the teacher nor the students are happy with the test results. (plural verb)
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is vital for effective communication in the English language. By paying close attention to the number of the subject and ensuring that the verb agrees with it, you can avoid confusion and make your writing clearer and more accurate. As a copy editor with SEO experience, it is essential to keep these rules in mind to optimize content for search engines and ensure that it is easily understandable for readers.