Problems on Subject Verb Agreement

Subject-verb agreement is one of the most fundamental principles in grammar. It refers to the concept of ensuring that the subject and verb in a sentence agree in number and person. However, avoiding errors in subject-verb agreement is not always an easy task. In this article, we will discuss some of the most common problems in subject-verb agreement.

Problem #1: Singular and Plural Nouns

One of the most common errors in subject-verb agreement occurs when writers confuse singular and plural nouns. When a subject is singular, the verb must be singular. On the other hand, when a subject is plural, the verb must also be plural. For example, “The dog barks” and “The dogs bark” demonstrate correct subject-verb agreement.

Problem #2: Indefinite Pronouns

Another issue that often arises in subject-verb agreement is the use of indefinite pronouns. These are pronouns that do not specify a particular person, place, or thing. Examples of indefinite pronouns include anyone, everyone, someone, nobody, and everybody. The tricky thing about indefinite pronouns is that they can be either singular or plural, depending on the context. For instance, “Everyone knows that the sun rises in the east” and “Everyone knows what they want” are both grammatically correct.

Problem #3: Compound Subjects

Compound subjects are subjects that consist of two or more entities joined by a conjunction. When the conjunction is “and,” the subject becomes plural, and the verb should also be plural. On the other hand, when the conjunction is “or” or “nor,” the verb should match the closest subject. For example, “Mary and John are going to the mall” and “Either Mary or John is going to the mall” are grammatically accurate.

Problem #4: Collective Nouns

Collective nouns are words that describe a group of individuals, such as team, herd, or audience. Depending on the context, these nouns can be singular or plural, and the verb should agree accordingly. For example, “The team is playing well” and “The team are arguing among themselves” are both correct.

Problem #5: Inverted Sentences

Inverted sentences are sentences in which the subject comes after the verb. This structure is commonly used in questions and clauses beginning with negative adverbs. When the subject is inverted, writers must be careful to ensure that the verb agrees with the subject, not the introductory phrase. For example, “Never before have I seen such a beautiful sunset” is correct, while “Never before have I seen such beautiful sunsets” is not.

Subject-verb agreement is a crucial component of effective writing. To avoid common errors in subject-verb agreement, writers must take the time to check their work carefully and ensure that all subjects and verbs agree in number and person. With practice and attention to detail, writers can develop a better understanding of this fundamental principle and produce error-free writing.