Subject-verb agreement is an essential aspect of grammar that writers need to understand. It refers to the match between the subject and the verb in a sentence. When writing, it is essential to ensure that the subject agrees in number with the verb that follows it. In this article, we will discuss the basic rules of subject-verb agreement that will help you improve your writing.
1. The verb must agree in number with the subject
The most basic rule of subject-verb agreement is that the verb must agree in number with the subject. If the subject is singular, the verb must be singular, and if the subject is plural, the verb must be plural. For example, “The cat sits on the roof” is correct, whereas “The cats sit on the roof” is also correct.
2. Compound subjects require plural verbs
When two or more subjects are joined by “and,” they form a plural subject, and the verb should be plural. For example, “John and Mary are coming to the party.” Even if the subjects are of different genders, they still form a plural subject, and the verb should be plural.
3. Subjects joined by “or” or “nor” require agreement with the nearest subject
When two subjects are joined by “or” or “nor,” the verb agrees with the subject closest to it. For example, “Neither the cat nor the dog is hungry” is correct because the closest subject is singular. Similarly, “Either John or his brothers are going to the cinema” is correct because the nearest subject is plural.
4. Indefinite pronouns require singular or plural verbs depending on context
Indefinite pronouns such as everyone, anyone, someone, and nobody require singular verbs. For example, “Everyone is welcome to the party.” However, when used as subjects in certain contexts, these pronouns may require a plural verb. For example, “Some people are coming to the party.”
5. Titles, names, and phrases acting as singular subjects require singular verbs
Titles, names, and phrases that act as singular subjects require singular verbs. For example, “The book The Catcher in the Rye is a classic,” “Macbeth is a tragic play,” and “The fact that he lied is disturbing” are all correct sentences.
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is a fundamental rule that writers must master to communicate effectively. By following the basic rules outlined in this article, you can ensure that your writing is grammatically correct, clear, and concise.