Subject Verb Agreement Trivia
Subject-verb agreement is a crucial aspect of English grammar. It ensures that the subject and verb in a sentence agree in number. This means that if the subject of a sentence is singular, the verb should also be singular, and if the subject is plural, the verb should be plural as well. However, there are some tricky exceptions and trivia to subject-verb agreement that even experienced writers may overlook.
Here are some subject-verb agreement trivia every copy editor should know:
1. Collective Nouns
A collective noun refers to a group of people or things. Examples include team, committee, and family. When a collective noun is the subject of a sentence, it can be tricky to decide whether to use a singular or plural verb. The rule is to use a singular verb if the collective noun is considered as a single entity, and a plural verb if the collective noun is considered as individuals. For example, “The team is playing well” uses a singular verb because the team is considered as a unit, while “The team are arguing about their strategy” uses a plural verb because the team members are individuals.
2. Indefinite Pronouns
Indefinite pronouns are words such as everyone, somebody, and anyone. They refer to an unspecified person or thing. When an indefinite pronoun is the subject of a sentence, the verb should agree with the pronoun`s number. If the pronoun is singular, the verb should be singular, and if the pronoun is plural, the verb should be plural. For example, “Someone is knocking at the door” uses a singular verb because someone is a singular pronoun, while “Many have tried, but few have succeeded” uses a plural verb because many and few are plural pronouns.
3. Words Between the Subject and Verb
Sometimes, a sentence can have words between the subject and verb, such as prepositional phrases or clauses. In such cases, it`s essential to ensure that the subject and verb still agree in number. For example, “The group of boys, including John and Tom, are playing football” uses a plural verb because the subject is a group of boys, not just John and Tom.
4. Compound Subjects
A compound subject is a subject that consists of more than one noun or pronoun. When the compound subject is joined by the conjunctions and or or, the verb should agree with the number of the subjects. For example, “John and Tom are playing football” uses a plural verb, while “Either John or Tom is playing football” uses a singular verb.
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is an essential aspect of English grammar. As a copy editor, knowing these subject-verb agreement trivia can help you catch any errors and ensure that the text follows proper grammar rules. Remember to pay attention to collective nouns, indefinite pronouns, words between the subject and verb, and compound subjects to ensure that the sentence agrees in number.