As a copy editor, one of the most essential aspects of writing that I come across is subject-verb agreement. Even the most seasoned writers sometimes forget the basic rules of subject-verb agreement, resulting in poorly constructed sentences that can confuse readers. As a writer, it is essential to be mindful of subject-verb agreement to ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and grammatically correct. In this article, we will discuss 20 rules of subject-verb agreement that every writer should know.
1. Singular subjects should be paired with singular verbs, and plural subjects should be paired with plural verbs.
2. Indefinite pronouns, such as anyone, everyone, and someone, are always singular and require a singular verb.
3. Compound subjects joined by and take plural verbs.
4. Compound subjects joined by or or nor take the verb of the subject nearer to the verb.
5. Collective nouns, such as group, team, and family, can be singular or plural depending on the context of the sentence.
6. Singular verbs are used with the amount of, none of, part of, and a lot of.
7. The verb agrees with the subject, not with the object of the sentence.
8. When a plural noun is used as an adjective, the verb remains singular.
9. Titles of books, movies, and other creative works are always singular, and their verbs should be singular as well.
10. Measurements and amounts, such as time, money, weight, and distance, are always singular and take singular verbs.
11. When a subject is modified by a prepositional phrase, the verb agrees with the subject, not with the object of the preposition.
12. Verbs used with collective nouns can be singular or plural, depending on whether the emphasis is on the group or the individuals in the group.
13. When the subject follows the verb, the verb agrees with the subject, not with the subject complement.
14. When the noun in a sentence is plural, but the meaning is singular, the verb should be singular as well.
15. Subjects that are the same in meaning, but different in form, take singular verbs.
16. Verbs used with nouns ending in -ics are always singular.
17. When a subject is a relative clause, the verb agrees with the antecedent, not with the relative pronoun.
18. When a sentence begins with here or there, the verb agrees with the subject that follows.
19. Some nouns that end in -s are singular and require a singular verb.
20. Some nouns that are plural in form, such as news and economics, are always considered singular and take singular verbs.
Subject-verb agreement is not always straightforward, and there are exceptions to the rules. Still, as a writer, it is important to have a solid understanding of the basics to ensure that your writing is clear, grammatically correct, and effective. Applying these 20 rules of subject-verb agreement can go a long way in helping you achieve that goal.