Subject-verb agreement is a crucial element of grammar that ensures effective communication in writing. It refers to the agreement in number and person between the subject and verb in a sentence. When these elements do not agree, it can result in unclear or awkward writing that may confuse readers. In this article, we will explore when to use subject-verb agreement and provide some helpful tips on how to ensure that your writing is grammatically correct.
The basic rule of subject-verb agreement is that singular subjects take singular verbs, while plural subjects take plural verbs. For example, in the sentence “She rides her bike to work every day,” the singular subject “she” takes the singular verb “rides.” On the other hand, in the sentence “They ride their bikes to work every day,” the plural subject “they” takes the plural verb “ride.”
However, this rule becomes more complicated when dealing with compound subjects, indefinite pronouns, and collective nouns. Compound subjects are two or more subjects that are joined by a conjunction such as “and” or “or.” In these cases, the verb should agree with the number of the compound subject as a whole. For example, in the sentence “He and his friend play tennis every Saturday,” the compound subject “he and his friend” takes the singular verb “play.”
Indefinite pronouns also present a challenge when it comes to subject-verb agreement. These pronouns, such as “everyone,” “anyone,” and “someone,” can be either singular or plural depending on the context of the sentence. For example, in the sentence “Everyone has their own opinions,” the pronoun “everyone” is considered singular, but the use of the plural pronoun “their” is becoming more common in informal writing.
Collective nouns are yet another stumbling block for subject-verb agreement. These nouns refer to a group of people or things acting as one unit. Examples include “team,” “family,” and “committee.” In general, when using a collective noun as the subject of a sentence, the verb should agree with the collective noun in the singular form. For example, in the sentence “The team is playing well this season,” the collective noun “team” takes the singular verb “is.”
To ensure that your writing has proper subject-verb agreement, it is important to identify the subject of the sentence and match the verb form accordingly. It is also helpful to read your writing aloud to check for awkward phrasing or incorrect agreement. Finally, be aware of irregular verbs that do not follow the usual subject-verb agreement rules, such as “to be” and “to have.”
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is an essential component of effective writing. It ensures that your meaning is clear to readers and that your writing is grammatically correct. By understanding the basic rules of subject-verb agreement and practicing careful attention to detail, you can ensure that your writing is polished and professional.