Subject-verb agreement is a crucial aspect of English grammar. It refers to the notion that the verb in a sentence should agree with the subject in terms of number. This means that if the subject is singular, the verb should be singular too, and if the subject is plural, the verb should be plural as well. While this may seem like a simple rule to follow, there are some irregularities in subject-verb agreement that even experienced writers and editors sometimes get wrong.
1. Indefinite Pronouns
Indefinite pronouns, such as everyone, someone, anybody, and nobody, can be tricky when it comes to subject-verb agreement. Since these pronouns are singular, it may seem logical to use a singular verb with them. However, they can also refer to a group of people, which would require a plural verb. The best way to determine the correct verb is to consider the context of the sentence. For example, “Everyone is invited to the party” is correct, while “Everyone seem happy” is incorrect.
2. Collective Nouns
Collective nouns refer to a group of people or things as a single entity. Examples of collective nouns include team, jury, audience, and family. The tricky part is that these nouns can take either a singular or plural verb, depending on the context of the sentence. For instance, “The family is going on vacation” is correct because the family is being treated as a single unit. However, “The family are arguing about where to go” is also correct because the family is acting as individuals.
3. Compound Subjects
Compound subjects refer to a sentence that has two or more subjects joined by a coordinating conjunction (and, or, nor). The verb should agree with the subject closest to it. For example, “Tom and Jerry are going to the party” is correct because both Tom and Jerry are plural, while “Tom or Jerry is going to the party” is also correct because each subject is singular.
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is not always straightforward. Still, by keeping these irregularities in mind, you can avoid common mistakes and produce error-free writing that impresses both your readers and search engines.