As copy editors, one of our primary responsibilities is to ensure that the content we work on is grammatically correct. One of the key areas where grammatical errors often occur is in subject-verb agreement.
Subject-verb agreement is the grammatical rule that states that the verb in a sentence must agree with the subject in terms of number and person. In simpler terms, this means that a singular subject requires a singular verb, while a plural subject requires a plural verb.
Here are some examples of subject-verb agreement:
– The cat (singular subject) is sleeping (singular verb).
– The dogs (plural subject) are barking (plural verb).
Errors in subject-verb agreement can often occur when there is confusion about the number of the subject. For example:
– One of the dogs (singular subject) are barking (incorrect plural verb).
– The team (singular subject) are all wearing their uniforms (incorrect plural verb).
To avoid these errors, it is important to identify the subject and determine whether it is singular or plural before selecting the appropriate verb.
Here are some tips to help you master subject-verb agreement:
1. Identify the subject of the sentence. This is often the noun or pronoun that the sentence is about.
2. Determine whether the subject is singular or plural. If the subject is singular, use a singular verb. If the subject is plural, use a plural verb.
3. Watch out for tricky subjects. Some nouns, like “news” or “mathematics”, appear plural but are actually singular. Use a singular verb with these types of nouns.
4. Be aware of subject-verb agreement in compound subjects. When two or more subjects are joined by “and”, use a plural verb. When the subjects are joined by “or” or “nor”, use the verb that agrees with the subject closest to the verb.
By following these simple rules, you can ensure that your writing is grammatically correct and professional. As copy editors, it is our responsibility to help our clients convey their message clearly and effectively, and proper subject-verb agreement is an essential part of achieving this goal.