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Subject-Verb Agreement: Some Useful Tips

Subject-verb agreement is an essential grammatical rule that helps in creating clear and understandable sentences. It refers to the correspondence between the subject and verb in a sentence. Simply put, the verb should agree with the number and person of the subject. For instance, if the subject is singular, the verb should be singular as well. If the subject is plural, the verb should be plural too.

In this article, we will discuss some useful tips on subject-verb agreement to make your writing clear and effective.

1. Know the basic rules

The first step in mastering subject-verb agreement is to know the basic rules. Here are a few of them:

– Singular subjects take singular verbs (e.g., The dog barks).

– Plural subjects take plural verbs (e.g., The dogs bark).

– Compound subjects joined by “and” take plural verbs (e.g., The dog and the cat play).

– Collective nouns like “team,” “jury,” and “family” can take singular or plural verbs, depending on the context (e.g., The team is/are playing well).

2. Pay attention to the intervening words

Sometimes, words may intervene between the subject and verb, making it difficult to determine the correct verb form. In such cases, it is essential to ignore the intervening words and focus on the subject-verb agreement. For example, “The basket of fruits on the table smells fresh” can be confusing, but the correct verb form is “smell” because the subject is “basket,” not “fruits.”

3. Watch out for indefinite pronouns

Indefinite pronouns like “anybody,” “everyone,” “someone,” and “no one” are singular, and hence take singular verbs. For instance, “Everyone is enjoying the party” is correct, but “Everyone are enjoying the party” is incorrect.

4. Know the exceptions

There are some exceptions to the subject-verb agreement rules, and it is essential to know them to avoid errors. For example:

– Collective nouns can take plural verbs when the individuals within the group are emphasized (e.g., The team are fighting among themselves).

– Some words like “news,” “mathematics,” and “measles” are always singular, even though they refer to a group or concept (e.g., The news is shocking).

In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is a crucial aspect of writing, and mastering it can significantly improve the clarity and coherence of your sentences. By understanding the basic rules, paying attention to intervening words, watching out for indefinite pronouns, and knowing the exceptions, you can write grammatically correct sentences that convey your message effectively.