As a copy editor, one of the most common grammar mistakes that I come across is subject-verb agreement errors. It may seem like a small detail, but correctly pairing the subject and verb in a sentence is crucial in effectively communicating your message.
Subject-verb agreement means that the subject and verb in a sentence must agree in number. This means that if the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular, and if the subject is plural, the verb must also be plural. For example, “She runs” is correct, while “She run” is incorrect.
It`s important to note that subject-verb agreement can become tricky when dealing with compound subjects, subject complements, and collective nouns. Here are some examples:
Compound subjects: When there are two or more subjects joined by “and,” the verb must be plural. For example, “John and Jane are going to the store.”
Subject complements: When the subject is linked to a noun or adjective that follows the verb, the verb agrees with the subject, not the complement. For example, “The winner is her” is correct, while “The winner are her” is incorrect.
Collective nouns: Collective nouns are singular, but they refer to a group of people or things. When the noun refers to the group as a whole, use a singular verb. For example, “The team is playing well.” When the noun refers to the individuals in the group, use a plural verb. For example, “The team are working hard for their individual goals.”
To ensure that you`re not making subject-verb agreement errors, here are some tips:
1. Identify the subject of the sentence.
2. Determine if the subject is singular or plural.
3. Choose the correct verb form based on the subject.
If you`re still unsure, try reading the sentence out loud to see if it sounds correct. Additionally, there are plenty of online grammar tests and exercises that focus on subject-verb agreement, which can help you strengthen your skills.
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is a key component of proper grammar that should not be overlooked. By taking the time to master this aspect of writing, you can ensure that your message is clear, concise, and effective.