Mastering Subject-Verb Agreement: Tips and Tricks for Error-Free Writing
Subject-verb agreement is an essential grammar rule that can make or break your writing. This rule dictates that the verb in a sentence should agree with the subject in terms of number and person. A singular subject takes a singular verb, and a plural subject takes a plural verb. Unfortunately, many writers struggle with subject-verb agreement and end up making mistakes that can compromise the clarity and credibility of their work.
In this blog post, we’ll provide you with tips and tricks for mastering subject-verb agreement, so you can write error-free sentences and impress your readers.
- Identify the subject and verb
The first step to mastering subject-verb agreement is to identify the subject and verb in your sentence. The subject is the person, place, thing, or idea that the sentence is about, while the verb is the action or state of being that the subject is performing or experiencing. Once you’ve identified the subject and verb, you can determine whether they agree in terms of number and person.
- Match singular subjects with singular verbs
If the subject of your sentence is singular, the verb should also be singular. For example, “The cat chases the mouse” is correct because “cat” is singular and “chases” is the singular verb that agrees with it. On the other hand, “The cat chase the mouse” is incorrect because “chase” is a plural verb that does not agree with the singular subject “cat.”
- Match plural subjects with plural verbs
If the subject of your sentence is plural, the verb should also be plural. For example, “The cats chase the mice” is correct because “cats” is plural and “chase” is the plural verb that agrees with it. On the other hand, “The cats chases the mice” is incorrect because “chases” is a singular verb that does not agree with the plural subject “cats.”
- Watch out for tricky subjects
Some subjects can be tricky to identify, especially when they are part of a prepositional phrase or separated from the verb by other words. For example, in the sentence “The book on the shelf is interesting,” the subject is “book” and the verb is “is,” which agrees in terms of number and person. However, in the sentence “The books on the shelf are interesting,” the subject is “books” and the verb is “are,” which also agrees in terms of number and person.
- Use the correct verb tense
Subject-verb agreement also applies to the tense of the verb. If the subject of your sentence is in the past tense, the verb should also be in the past tense. For example, “She walked to the store” is correct because “walked” is the past tense verb that agrees with the past tense subject “she.”
- Avoid indefinite pronouns
Indefinite pronouns such as “everyone,” “someone,” and “no one” can be tricky when it comes to subject-verb agreement because they are singular in form but can refer to multiple people or things. In general, you should use a singular verb with an indefinite pronoun unless the context suggests otherwise. For example, “Everyone is here” is correct because “is” is the singular verb that agrees with the singular indefinite pronoun “everyone.”
By following these tips and tricks, you can master subject-verb agreement and avoid common mistakes that can undermine the clarity and professionalism of your writing. Remember, subject-verb agreement is not just a grammar rule – it’s a mark of good writing that can help you connect with your readers and communicate your ideas effectively.