Subject-verb agreement is a critical aspect of writing grammatically correct sentences. It refers to the agreement between the subject and verb in terms of number and person. In simple words, it means that the subject and verb in a sentence must match in terms of singular or plural, and they must agree in person – first, second, or third.
As a copy editor, it is essential to understand the rules of subject-verb agreement to ensure that every sentence in the article is grammatically correct. Here are some essential rules of subject-verb agreement that every copy editor should be aware of:
1. Subject-verb agreement for singular and plural nouns – When the subject is singular, the verb should also be singular. For example, «The cat is sleeping.» When the subject is plural, the verb should also be plural. For example, «The cats are sleeping.»
2. Subject-verb agreement with compound subjects – When the subject is a compound subject consisting of two or more nouns joined by «and,» the verb should be plural. For example, «John and Mary are going to the concert.»
3. Subject-verb agreement with collective nouns – Collective nouns refer to a group of people or things. When the noun is singular but refers to a group, the verb should be singular. For example, «The team is playing well.» However, if the noun refers to individual members of the group, the verb should be plural. For example, «The team are all wearing their jerseys.»
4. Subject-verb agreement with indefinite pronouns – Indefinite pronouns such as each, everyone, nobody, anyone, somebody, and someone, are singular and take a singular verb. For example, «Everyone was excited about the party.» However, some indefinite pronouns like both, few, several can be either singular or plural, depending on the context. For example, «Both the cats were sleeping» (plural) and «Both the cake and the pie was delicious» (singular).
5. Subject-verb agreement with phrases and clauses – When a sentence begins with a phrase or clause, it is essential to ensure that the verb agrees with the subject, which may come later in the sentence. For example, «After the storm, the trees were knocked down.»
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is a crucial aspect of writing grammatically correct sentences. Copy editors should ensure that every sentence in the article follows the rules of subject-verb agreement to maintain the coherence and clarity of the message conveyed. By keeping these rules in mind, copy editors can ensure that every sentence in the article is grammatically correct and polished to perfection.