Subject-verb agreement is a grammatical concept that is essential for clear and effective communication. In this article, we will explore what subject-verb agreement is, why it is important, and some common mistakes to avoid.
What is Subject-Verb Agreement?
Subject-verb agreement refers to the match between the subject and the verb in a sentence. In simple terms, it means that the verb must agree with the subject in terms of number and person. So, if the subject is singular, the verb should also be singular, and if the subject is plural, the verb should also be plural.
– She runs every morning. (singular subject, singular verb)
– They run every morning. (plural subject, plural verb)
Why is Subject-Verb Agreement Important?
Subject-verb agreement is important because it affects the clarity and accuracy of your writing. If the subject and verb do not agree, the sentence can be confusing, misleading, or even grammatically incorrect.
Consider the following examples:
– The student in the front row is working hard. (correct subject-verb agreement)
– The student in the front row are working hard. (incorrect subject-verb agreement)
In the first example, the subject “student” is singular, and the verb “is” agrees with it. The sentence is clear and easy to understand. However, in the second example, the verb “are” does not agree with the singular subject “student.” This mistake can confuse readers and detract from the credibility of the writer.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Here are some common mistakes to avoid when it comes to subject-verb agreement:
1. Using the wrong verb form with collective nouns
Collective nouns refer to a group of people or things that are considered as a unit, such as “team,” “family,” or “committee.” In most cases, collective nouns take a singular verb form.
– The team is playing well this season. (correct subject-verb agreement)
– The family are arguing about vacation plans. (incorrect subject-verb agreement)
In the second example, the verb “are” does not agree with the singular collective noun “family.” The correct verb form would be “is,” making the sentence “The family is arguing about vacation plans.”
2. Ignoring the subject between the verb and the noun
Sometimes, a long sentence can have an intervening phrase or clause between the subject and the verb. In such cases, it is important to make sure that the verb agrees with the subject, not the intervening words.
– The book, as well as the author`s previous works, is highly acclaimed. (correct subject-verb agreement)
– The book, as well as the author`s previous works, are highly acclaimed. (incorrect subject-verb agreement)
In the second example, the verb “are” does not agree with the singular subject “book” but with the intervening phrase “the author`s previous works.” The correct verb form would be “is,” making the sentence “The book, as well as the author`s previous works, is highly acclaimed.”
Subject-verb agreement is a fundamental aspect of English grammar that requires attention to detail and consistency. By understanding what it is, why it matters, and how to avoid common mistakes, you can write with confidence and clarity. Whether you are writing for academic, professional, or personal purposes, subject-verb agreement can make a big difference in the impact and effectiveness of your message.