When it comes to written English, one of the most fundamental rules is subject-verb agreement. This rule dictates that the verb in a sentence must agree with the subject in both number and person. Failure to follow this rule can result in grammatical errors that can make your writing difficult to understand, and can even negatively impact its SEO potential. In this article, we’ll explore the rules of subject-verb agreement in detail, providing practical examples to help you master this essential rule of English grammar.
The basic premise of subject-verb agreement is straightforward: the singular subject takes a singular verb, and the plural subject takes a plural verb. For instance, in the sentence “She writes a book,” the singular subject ‘she’ requires the singular verb ‘writes.’ Similarly, in the sentence “They write books,” the plural subject ‘they’ requires the plural verb ‘write.’
However, it’s not always quite so simple. There are many scenarios in which subject-verb agreement can become more complicated. For example, when a sentence includes singular and plural subjects, it can be challenging to figure out which verb is correct. In this situation, the verb should agree with the subject closest to it. Consider the sentence: “John, along with his friends, plays football.” Even though ‘friends’ is plural, the singular subject ‘John’ is closest to the verb ‘plays,’ so this verb is singular.
Another significant factor affecting subject-verb agreement is the presence of compound subjects. In this case, we need to determine whether the subjects are joined by ‘and’ or ‘or.’ If the subjects are joined by ‘and,’ the verb should be plural. But if the subjects are joined by ‘or,’ the verb should match the subject closest to it. For example, “Tom and Jerry walk to the store” requires the plural verb ‘walk,’ while “Either Tom or Jerry walks to the store” requires the singular verb ‘walks.’
Another rule of subject-verb agreement involves the use of collective nouns. Collective nouns, which refer to groups of people, animals, or things, can be tricky when it comes to subject-verb agreement because they can be both singular or plural. For example, the word ‘team’ can be considered a singular unit or a collection of individuals. If ‘team’ is treated as a singular unit, the verb should be singular, as in “The team is practicing for the game.” On the other hand, if ‘team’ is treated as a collection of individuals, the verb should be plural, as in “The team are all talented players.”
Finally, subject-verb agreement also applies to indefinite pronouns, which are pronouns like ‘someone,’ ‘everyone,’ and ‘anyone’ that do not refer to a specific person or thing. In general, these pronouns are treated as singular, so they require a singular verb. For example, “Everyone is required to attend the meeting.”
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is a critical grammar rule in written English, and mastering it can make your writing clearer, more coherent, and more effective. By understanding the basic rules outlined in this article, you’ll be well on your way to producing grammatically correct content that is optimized for both readers and search engines alike.