Notes on Subject Verb Agreement

Subject verb agreement is a crucial element of good writing, as it ensures clarity and coherence in the meaning of a sentence. As a copy editor, it is essential to note the rules and guidelines of subject verb agreement to improve the quality of content and enhance its search engine optimization (SEO) potential. In this article, we will explore some important notes on subject verb agreement that are useful for writers and editors alike.

The basic rule of subject verb agreement is that the verb must agree with the subject in number. This means that if the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular, and if the subject is plural, the verb must also be plural. For example, “The cat is sleeping” (singular subject and singular verb) and “The cats are sleeping” (plural subject and plural verb).

However, there are some instances where subject verb agreement can be tricky, especially when dealing with complex sentences or compound subjects. Here are some notes to keep in mind:

1. Collective nouns: Collective nouns (e.g., team, family, audience) can be singular or plural, depending on the context. If the collective noun refers to a single group, the verb should be singular (e.g., “The team is playing well”). If the collective noun refers to individual members of the group, the verb should be plural (e.g., “The team are arguing among themselves”).

2. Indefinite pronouns: Indefinite pronouns (e.g., everyone, anybody, nobody) are always singular. Therefore, the verb that follows them should also be singular (e.g., “Everybody wants to be loved”).

3. Compound subjects: When two or more subjects are joined by “and,” the verb should be plural (e.g., “John and Jane are going to the movies”). However, if the subjects are joined by “or” or “nor,” the verb should agree with the subject that is closer to the verb (e.g., “Neither the cat nor the dog is hungry”).

4. Subject-verb separation: In cases where the subject and verb are separated by other words or clauses, it can be easy to lose track of the subject and mistake it for a different word. Always make sure to identify the subject correctly before matching the verb (e.g., “Running in the park, the dog barks” should be “The dog barks while running in the park”).

Correct subject verb agreement not only makes the sentence grammatically correct but also makes it easy to read and understand. It also enhances the SEO potential of the content by making it more visible in search results. Therefore, it is crucial for writers and editors to pay attention to subject verb agreement when crafting content or editing it. By keeping these notes in mind, copy editors can ensure that the content they produce is of the highest quality and optimized for search engines.