As a copy editor, one of the most important aspects of writing is subject-verb agreement. Subject-verb agreement is simply the matching of the subject with the verb in a sentence. Failure to agree between these two elements can lead to grammatical errors that may confuse the reader. Therefore, it is essential to know all the rules governing the subject-verb agreement.
Here are some of the rules to follow when it comes to subject-verb agreement:
1. Singular Subject and Singular Verb: When the subject of the sentence is singular, the verb must also be singular. Example: The cat chases the mouse.
2. Plural Subject and Plural Verb: When the subject of the sentence is plural, the verb must also be plural. Example: The cats chase the mice.
3. Singular Subject and Plural Verb: When the subject of the sentence is singular and refers to a group of people or things, the verb must be plural. Example: The staff were all in the meeting.
4. Plural Subject and Singular Verb: When the subject of the sentence is a singular collective noun, but it refers to a group of individuals, the verb must be plural. Example: The team are all ready for the game.
5. Indefinite Pronouns: Indefinite pronouns such as everyone, somebody, each, anyone, and someone take a singular verb. Example: Everyone wants to be happy.
6. Compound Subjects: When the subject of the sentence is a compound subject joined by “and,” a plural verb is used. Example: Tom and Jerry are good friends.
7. Collective Nouns: Collective nouns such as team, family, group, and committee can take a singular or plural verb depending on the context of the sentence. Example: The family is going on vacation. The family are arguing about where to go.
8. Words Between the Subject and Verb: Words such as “with,” “as well as” and “including” do not change the verb`s form, which should agree with the subject. Example: The team, including their coach, is traveling to the game.
9. Numerals: When a sentence starts with a numeral, the subject following it must be considered. If the subject is singular, use a singular verb, and if the subject is plural, use a plural verb. Example: 10% of the students are absent today.
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is essential in producing readable and understandable content. While it may seem overwhelming at first, familiarizing yourself with the rules will help you avoid mistakes and improve your writing skills. Remember to check for subject-verb agreement in every sentence you write to ensure that your writing is clear and grammatically correct.