Subject-Verb Agreement

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Subject verb agreement is a fundamental concept in the English language. It refers to the correct matching of the subject and verb in a sentence.
Subject-verb agreement means that singular subjects require singular verbs, while plural subjects need plural verbs. This ensures that a sentence is grammatically correct and easy to understand.
Definition of subject verb agreement
Subject-verb agreement is the relationship between the subject and its corresponding verb in a sentence.
The subject is the person, place, thing, or idea that performs or is described by the action of the verb.
The verb, on the other hand, signifies an action or state of being. In simple terms, this means that if you have a singular subject (such as “the dog”), you need to use a singular verb (such as “runs”).
Conversely, if you have a plural subject (such as “the dogs”), you need to use a plural verb (such as “run”).
Correctly matching subjects and verbs results in sentences that are clear and easy to understand.
Importance of subject verb agreement in writing and speaking
Subject-verb agreement plays an essential role in both writing and speaking.
Proper subject-verb agreement helps ensure clarity in communication while also conveying meaning more effectively.
In writing, incorrect subject-verb agreement can lead to confusion for readers which can diminish their understanding of what’s being communicated.
Similarly, when speaking, using improper grammar can make it difficult for listeners to comprehend what’s being said.
Improper usage can also make individuals seem less intelligent than they are because it creates an impression of incompetence when someone cannot agree on fundamental aspects such as subjects with verbs.
Overall good grammar provides professional appearance into your communication style; therefore mastering Subject Verb Agreement ensures your audience will appreciate your polished language skills whether it be verbal or written communication.
Good grammar shows professionalism which will reflect positively on you in a work environment or social setting. The ability to use proper grammar will make you more successful and respected in all aspects of your life.
Basic Rules of Subject Verb Agreement
Singular subjects require singular verbs
Subject verb agreement is the grammatical rule that dictates how a verb in a sentence should agree with its subject in number and person.
When a subject is singular, the corresponding verb must also be singular.
For instance, “The dog barks” is an example of correct subject-verb agreement because “dog” is a singular noun, and “barks” is the corresponding singular verb.
It’s also worth noting that when a sentence has compound subjects joined by “and,” it’s important to ensure that both subjects are in the same form.
For instance, “John and Mary are going to the movies” uses plural verbs because both John and Mary are individuals.
Plural subjects require plural verbs
Conversely, when a subject is plural, the corresponding verb must be plural as well.
For example, “The dogs bark” correctly uses the plural form of the verb since “dogs” refers to more than one animal.
When there are compound subjects connected by “or” or “nor,” it’s important to select the right form for your verb based on whether one or both of these words connect them.
If only one word connects them, use whichever form matches that word’s noun (singular or plural).
However, if both words connect them then choose whichever form agrees with the nearest noun.
Indefinite pronouns require singular or plural verbs depending on context
Indefinite pronouns refer to objects or people without specifying who they are – examples include anyone, everyone, somebody etc.
The rule for indefinite pronouns depends on whether they refer to single or multiple items/people: if they’re used as single entities then they will take on a singular verb whilst if there are multiple things being referred to then you would use a plural verb.
For example, “Someone is at the door” uses a singular verb since “someone” refers to a single person.
In contrast, “Some of the apples are rotten” uses a plural verb because “apples” is in the plural form.
In addition, there are other cases where subject-verb agreement can become more complex when indefinite pronouns are used.
For example, when using words such as “all” or “none,” you should always look at their context to determine whether they take on singular or plural verbs.
Practice Tip:
It’s important to get used to identifying when verbs agree with their subjects by practicing on a regular basis – both in writing and speaking.
A good way to do this is by reading aloud and paying attention to how your sentences sound.
You may also find it helpful to review basic grammar rules regularly, which can help prevent errors from being made in the first place.
By paying attention and practicing regularly, you’ll be able to master subject-verb agreement quickly and easily!
Tricky Cases of Subject Verb Agreement
Collective Nouns and Their Agreement with Verbs
Collective nouns refer to a group of individuals or things that are regarded as a single entity.
Examples of collective nouns include “team,” “committee,” and “family.”
In subject-verb agreement, the verb must agree with the collective noun’s meaning, whether it is singular or plural.
For example, when referring to a team as a unit, we use the singular form of the verb.
Therefore, we say “the team is playing well” instead of “the team are playing well.”
Similarly, when referring to committees or families as units, we use singular verbs.
However, if we are talking about the individual members of a collective noun acting separately, then we use plural verbs.
For example, if we are discussing family members who have different opinions on something, we would say: “The family members disagree on this issue.”
Subjects Connected by “Or” and “Nor”
When two subjects are connected by either “or” or “nor,” the verb should agree with the noun closer to it in number.
If one subject is singular and one is plural in these cases., it’s much better to put the plural subject second so that you don’t have an awkward-sounding sentence.
For instance:
– Neither John nor his friends are going.
– Neither his friends nor John is going.
However, if both subjects are singular and connected by either “or” or “nor,” then choose a singular verb.
– Neither Tom nor Andy wants to go
Subjects Connected by “And” and Their Agreement with Verbs
When two subjects are connected by “and”, most times you should use a plural verb.
However, there are some situations where a singular verb is used:
– When the subject is a collective noun, which you’ve just learned about.
– When one of the subjects is singular and the other plural, the verb agreement will depend on where the emphasis of the sentence falls.
For example: – The man and woman are walking to school.
(Emphasis on each individual) – The man and his wife is going on vacation.
(Emphasis on them as a unit) Always ensure that your subjects agree with their corresponding verbs in both number and tense for clarity in your writing or speech.
Exceptions to the Rules of Subject Verb Agreement
Special cases where the verb agrees with a noun closer to it rather than the subject
In some cases, the verb in a sentence may agree with a noun that is closer to it rather than the actual subject of the sentence.
This can happen when there are phrases or clauses between the subject and verb that can be distracting.
For example: “The group of students, including John and Sarah, is going on a field trip.”
In this sentence, “group” is singular and would normally require a singular verb.
However, because of the phrase “including John and Sarah,” which is set off by commas, the verb “is” agrees with “students” instead.
Another example: “The box of chocolates was eaten by my sister and me.” Here, even though “sister” and “me” are technically objects of the preposition “by,” they are closer to the verb than “box,” so it takes a singular form.
It’s important to note that this exception only applies when there are intervening phrases or clauses.
If there aren’t any other words between the subject and verb in a sentence, you should follow basic agreement rules as stated in section II.
The use of phrases such as “as well as,” “along with,” and “together with”
When using phrases like these that join two subjects together in one sentence, it’s important to make sure they agree in number with each other.
For example: “My brother as well as his friends were at our house last night.
This sentence sounds grammatically incorrect since we have two subjects but one plural verb.
The correct way would be “My brother as well as his friends was at our house last night”.
Similarly, if you said “My dad along with my mom cooks dinner every night,” you would need the plural verb “cook” because both subjects are doing the action.
However, if you said “My dad, along with his wife, cooks dinner every night,” you would need to use the singular verb “cooks” because “dad” is the subject and “his wife” is just additional information.
It’s important to remember that these phrases don’t change or override basic agreement rules. If one of the joined subjects is singular and the other plural, you’ll need to use a plural verb.
Exceptions Recap
While there are some exceptions to basic subject-verb agreement rules, these exceptions should be used sparingly and only when necessary.
Always remember that clear communication is key in writing and speaking.
To avoid confusion, it’s best practice to follow standard agreement rules as closely as possible before trying out these exceptions.
Ultimately, using correct subject-verb agreement will improve your writing skills and help ensure your message is communicated clearly.
Examples of Exceptions
this section’s content here are some examples of sentences with correct verb-noun agreement:
1) The football team has won their first match.
2) The teacher together with her students was at the museum yesterday.
3) The book “to kill a mockingbird” together with its movie adaptation tells an interesting story.
4) Water bottles as well as glasses were served on each table.
5) The film crew along with their equipment was waiting outside.
Common Mistakes in Subject Verb Agreement
Errors in matching singular or plural subjects with their corresponding verbs
One of the most common mistakes made in subject-verb agreement is incorrectly matching a singular subject with a plural verb, or vice versa.
This error can be particularly tricky when dealing with compound subjects, such as “bread and butter”.
In this case, the verb should agree with the subject closest to it.
For example, “Bread and butter are my favorite foods.” Here, “butter” is the singular subject closest to the verb “are,” which should agree with it.
Another mistake occurs when using collective nouns such as “team” or “family”.
These nouns can be either singular or plural depending on context.
For example, if referring to a team working together as one unit, the correct phrase would be “the team is working well together.”
On the other hand, if discussing individual members of a team separately, we would say “the team are all talented players.”
When dealing with subjects connected by words like “or” and “nor”, we must take into account which subject is closer to the verb.
For instance: “Neither my friends nor I am interested in sports”. The verb ‘am’ agrees with ‘I’ since it’s closer to it even though ‘friends’ are also included.
Misuse of indefinite pronouns in sentences
Indefinite pronouns refer to non-specific people or things and include words like “someone,” “anyone”, and “everyone”.
It can be difficult to determine whether these pronouns require singular or plural verbs without considering their context within a sentence.
For instance:
– Everyone wants their opinion heard.
– Everyone wants his opinion heard.
Both sentences have different errors
– In (a), ‘their’ has no noun/pronoun to refer to while in (b), the pronoun used is gender biased. Hence, instead of using ‘his’ in sentence (b) or ‘their’ in sentence (a), we can rephrase the sentences as: “Everyone wants to have their opinion heard”.
Another example could be: – Somebody left their bag on my desk.
Here, ‘somebody’ is singular but the pronoun ‘their’ used suggests plural. Instead of using ‘their’, we could say, “Somebody left a bag on my desk.”
It’s crucial to think critically about what these indefinite pronouns are referring to and decide whether they should take singular or plural verbs based on context within each sentence.
Common mistakes in subject-verb agreement are often made by even the most skilled writers and speakers.
But taking the time to review grammar rules and practice identifying correct subject-verb pairs can go a long way towards improving one’s writing and speaking skills.
By understanding these common errors, we can avoid them and ensure that our communication conveys our intended meaning clearly and effectively.
Tips for Improving Your Subject Verb Agreement
Practice identifying correct subject-verb pairs in everyday speech and writing
One of the most effective ways to improve your subject-verb agreement is to practice identifying correct pairs in everyday speech and writing.
This involves paying close attention to how native speakers use the language and becoming familiar with common patterns of agreement.
You can start by listening carefully to conversations, reading books, articles, and other materials written by experienced writers, as well as proofreading your own writing more closely. It is also helpful to engage in exercises that specifically focus on subject-verb agreement.
These can range from simple fill-in-the-blank exercises to more complex sentence completion activities that require you to identify errors in a given sentence.
By practicing these exercises regularly, you will develop a better understanding of how different subjects agree with different verbs based on their number and context.
Review grammar rules regularly to avoid common mistakes
Another way to improve your subject-verb agreement skills is by reviewing grammar rules regularly. This will help you avoid common mistakes such as using singular verbs with plural subjects or vice versa.
Some important rules include: singular subjects require singular verbs; plural subjects require plural verbs; indefinite pronouns require singular or plural verbs depending on context; collective nouns may be either singular or plural depending on meaning; when two or more subjects are joined by “and,” use a plural verb unless the subjects are being treated as one unit. By reviewing these rules frequently, you will become more familiar with them and be able to apply them naturally when speaking or writing.
Seek feedback from others
Seeking feedback from others – such as teachers, tutors or peers – can also help you improve your subject-verb agreement skills.
Ask someone who is knowledgeable about the language for feedback on your writing assignments or practice sessions.
Alternatively, you can record yourself speaking and ask someone to listen for errors in your subject-verb agreement.
By getting feedback from others, you will gain a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to subject-verb agreement, and be able to focus on areas that need improvement.
Use online resources
There are many online resources available that can help you improve your subject-verb agreement skills. These range from grammar websites that offer explanations and practice exercises to forums where you can discuss language usage with other learners.
Some popular websites include Grammarly, Oxford Dictionaries, and Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL), which provide detailed explanations of grammar rules and examples of correct usage.
By utilizing these resources, you will have access to a wealth of information on subject-verb agreement that will help you improve your skills over time.
Improving your subject verb agreement skills is an essential part of becoming a more proficient writer or speaker.
By practicing identifying correct pairs in everyday speech and writing, reviewing grammar rules regularly, seeking feedback from others when possible, using online resources available for assistance -you can make significant progress towards improving your understanding of this fundamental aspect of the English language.
Remember: mastering this skill will not only lead to increased clarity in communication but also boost confidence in yourself as a writer or speaker.

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