Subject-verb agreement is an essential part of writing that plays a crucial role in conveying clear and concise communication. In English, the subject of a sentence is the person, place, or thing that performs the action, while the verb is the action itself. When writing, it is crucial to ensure that the subject and the verb agree in number. Failure to do so can lead to confusion, misunderstanding, and in some instances, downright embarrassment. In this article, we will outline some key tips on how to know subject-verb agreement.

Understand the basic rules

The most crucial step towards mastering subject-verb agreement is understanding the basic rules that govern the English language. For instance, when the subject is singular, the verb should also be singular. Conversely, when the subject is plural, the verb should be plural as well. This basic rule applies to all verbs, including irregular verbs like „is,” „am,” and „are.”

For example, „The dog runs around the park.” Here, the subject „dog” is singular, and the verb „runs” agrees with it. In comparison, „The dogs run around the park.” Here, the subject „dogs” is plural, and the verb „run” agrees with it.

Pay attention to compound subjects

A compound subject is a sentence with two or more subjects joined by „and.” In such instances, the verb should be plural to agree with the compound subject. However, when the subjects are joined by „or” or „nor,” the verb should agree with the subject that is closer to it.

For example, „Tom and Jerry eat pizza every day.” Here, the compound subject „Tom and Jerry” is plural, and the verb „eat” agrees with it.

In contrast, „Either Tom or Jerry eats pizza every day.” Here, the subject closest to the verb is „Jerry,” and it is singular. Therefore, the verb „eats” should be singular as well.

Be mindful of indefinite pronouns

Indefinite pronouns are pronouns that refer to a non-specific person, place, or thing. Examples include „anyone,” „someone,” and „everybody.” When using indefinite pronouns as a subject, it is essential to ensure that the verb agrees with the pronoun`s number.

For instance, „Everyone goes to the party.” Here, the indefinite pronoun „everyone” is singular, and the verb „goes” agrees with it.

In contrast, „Some people bring their own drinks to the party.” Here, the indefinite pronoun „some people” is plural, and the verb „bring” agrees with it.

In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is an essential aspect of good writing that requires careful attention. By understanding the basic rules, paying attention to compound subjects, and being mindful of indefinite pronouns, writers can ensure that their writing is clear, concise, and effective.