As a copy editor, one of the most common errors I encounter is subject-verb agreement. This is crucial in writing because it helps to ensure that the meaning of the text is clear and that the sentences are grammatically correct. Unfortunately, many writers make errors in subject-verb agreement, which can make their writing appear unprofessional and confusing. In this article, we will examine some common errors in subject-verb agreement and provide tips for how to avoid them.
First, it is important to understand what subject-verb agreement is. Simply put, this rule requires that the subject and verb in a sentence agree in number. For example, if the subject is singular, then the verb should be singular as well. This helps to ensure that the sentence is grammatically correct and makes sense.
One common error in subject-verb agreement is when the subject and verb do not agree in number. For example, in the sentence “The team are playing well,” the subject (team) is singular, but the verb (are) is plural. The correct sentence should be “The team is playing well.” This mistake is often made when the writer thinks of the team as a group of individuals rather than as a single unit.
Another common error is when the subject and verb are separated by other words or phrases. For example, in the sentence “The book, along with the pen and notebook, were left on the desk,” the subject (book) is singular, but the verb (were) is plural. The correct sentence should be “The book, along with the pen and notebook, was left on the desk.” This mistake is often made because the writer is distracted by the extra words or phrases and forgets about the subject-verb agreement.
Lastly, a common error in subject-verb agreement is when the writer uses a collective noun as if it were a plural noun. For example, in the sentence “The audience were applauding loudly,” the subject (audience) is a collective noun and should be treated as a singular noun. The correct sentence should be “The audience was applauding loudly.” This mistake is often made because the writer thinks of the collective noun as a group of individuals rather than as a single unit.
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is a crucial rule in writing that can greatly impact the clarity and professionalism of the text. By being aware of common errors such as those discussed in this article, writers can avoid these mistakes and produce high-quality writing. Remember to always check for subject-verb agreement when editing, and when in doubt, consult a grammar guide or seek the advice of a professional copy editor.