Subject-Verb Agreement in English
In this reference, we will explore what subject-verb agreement is, why it matters, and how to master it. By the end, you will have a solid understanding of subject-verb agreement and feel confident in using it in your writing. Let's start with some basic grammar!
What is Subject-Verb agreement?
Subject-verb agreement is the grammatical rule that states the subject and verb in your sentence must agree in number. In simpler terms, if the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular. If your subject is plural, the verb must also be plural. For example, in the sentence "He runs every day," the subject "he" is singular, and the verb "runs" is also singular.
Why Does Subject-Verb agreement matter?
Subject-verb agreement is an essential aspect of English grammar, as it helps to ensure that sentences are clear, concise, and easy to understand. When there is a lack of agreement between the subject and verb, it can lead to confusion and ambiguity, making it difficult for readers to follow the intended meaning of the sentence.
Examples of Subject-Verb Agreement
Handy examples of subject-verb agreement:
- The dog barks at the mailman. (singular subject and verb)
- The dogs bark at the mailman. (plural subject and verb)
- She sings beautifully. (singular subject and verb)
- They sing beautifully. (plural subject and verb)
As you can see, the subject and verb agree in number in each of these examples.
Subject-Verb Agreement rules and exceptions
While subject-verb agreement is a relatively simple concept, there are some rules and exceptions to consider.
One of the most important rules is that when the subject is a collective noun, such as "team" or "family," the verb can be either singular or plural, depending on the intended meaning of the sentence. For example:
- The team is playing well. (singular verb)
- The teams are arguing amongst themselves. (plural verb)
Another rule to keep in mind is that when the subject is a compound noun, and the nouns are joined by "and," the verb is usually plural. For example:
The cat and the dog are playing together.
There are also some exceptions to subject-verb agreement, such as with the use of "there" and "here." In these cases, the verb agrees with the noun that follows the verb, not with "there" or "here." For example:
There are two cats in the garden.
Subject-Verb agreement with singular and plural nouns
Understanding subject-verb agreement with singular and plural nouns is crucial. When your subject is singular, the verb must be singular, and when your subject is plural, the verb must be plural.
- The cat sleeps on the windowsill. (singular subject and verb)
- The cats sleep on the windowsill. (plural subject and verb)
Common Subject-Verb Agreement Mistakes
Now that you understand the rules and exceptions of subject-verb agreement, let's take a look at some of the most common mistakes:
- Using the wrong form of the verb with irregular plural nouns, such as "children" or "deer."
- Failing to make the verb agree with the subject when using collective nouns.
- Using the wrong verb form with compound subjects.
- Failing to make the verb agree with the subject when using "either/or" or "neither/nor" constructions.
By matching the subject with the verb in number, you can avoid confusion and ambiguity in your English. Remember to consider the rules and exceptions when using subject-verb agreement, as well as common mistakes to avoid. With practice, you will master subject-verb agreement in no time!