Subject-verb agreement is an essential component of good grammar. It ensures that the subject and verb in a sentence match in terms of number, person, and tense. Correct subject-verb agreement is critical for clear and concise communication. If you struggle with subject-verb agreement, here are ten rules to help you improve your writing.
Rule 1: Singular subjects need singular verbs, and plural subjects require plural verbs.
Example 1: The dog barks loudly. (“dog” is a singular subject, and “barks” is a singular verb)
Example 2: The cats meow loudly. (“cats” is a plural subject, and “meow” is a plural verb)
Rule 2: When a singular subject is connected with “or” or “nor,” the verb agrees with the subject closest to it.
Example: Neither the students nor the teacher was interested in the topic. (“teacher” is the closest subject to the verb “was,” so “was” is singular)
Rule 3: When a singular subject is connected with “either/or” or “neither/nor,” the verb agrees with the subject closest to it.
Example: Either the cat or the dog has been sleeping on the sofa. (“dog” is the closest subject to the verb “has,” so “has” is singular)
Rule 4: Use plural verbs with compound subjects joined by “and.”
Example: The boys and girls are playing in the park. (“boys” and “girls” are both plural subjects, so the verb “are” is also plural)
Rule 5: With collective nouns, the verb can be singular or plural, depending on the context.
Example 1: The jury has reached a verdict. (“jury” is singular)
Example 2: The jury disagree on the verdict. (“jury” is plural)
Rule 6: If the subject of the sentence is a fraction or percentage, the verb agrees with the object of the preposition.
Example: Two-thirds of the students are going on the field trip. (“students” is plural, so the verb “are” is also plural)
Rule 7: When there is an indirect object, the verb agrees with the subject.
Example: The teacher gave each of her students a book. (“teacher” is the subject, and “gave” is singular)
Rule 8: Use a singular verb for uncountable nouns.
Example: Music is my favorite hobby. (“music” is an uncountable noun)
Rule 9: “Is” is used for a singular word and “are” for plural.
Example 1: The box is heavy. (“box” is singular)
Example 2: The books are heavy. (“books” is plural)
Rule 10: In sentences that begin with “here” or “there,” the subject comes after the verb.
Example: Here is the report you requested. (“report” is the subject, and “is” is singular)
By following these ten rules of subject-verb agreement, you can ensure that your writing is grammatically correct, clear, and concise. These rules may take some practice to master, but with time and effort, they will become second nature. Happy writing!