Agreements in the English Language: Understanding Proper Subject-Verb Agreement
The English language is a complex system of rules and guidelines that govern the way we speak, read, write, and communicate with one another. One of the most critical aspects of English grammar is the concept of agreement, which refers to the proper relationship between subjects and verbs in a sentence. In this article, we will explore the basics of subject-verb agreement and provide some helpful tips for improving your writing and communication skills.
Subject-Verb Agreement: The Basics
In English grammar, subject-verb agreement refers to the relationship between the subject and the verb in a sentence. Simply put, a verb must agree with its subject in terms of person and number. For example, if the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular. If the subject is plural, the verb must be plural as well.
Here is an example of a sentence with proper subject-verb agreement:
The dog barks loudly at night.
In this sentence, the subject is “the dog,” which is singular, and the verb “barks” is also singular, making it an appropriately constructed sentence.
However, if we were to make the subject plural, the verb must also be plural, as in the following sentence:
The dogs bark loudly at night.
In this sentence, the plural subject “dogs” requires the plural verb “bark.”
Common Mistakes in Subject-Verb Agreement
One of the most common mistakes in subject-verb agreement is when the subject and verb do not match in number. For instance, if you write:
The team are doing well this season.
This sentence has a plural subject “team,” but the verb “are” is plural, which means the sentence is incorrectly constructed. Here is the corrected sentence in the singular form:
The team is doing well this season.
Another common error is when a sentence has more than one subject, and the verb does not agree correctly; for example:
John, along with his friends, is going to the party.
In this sentence, the subject consists of two nouns, “John” and “friends.” Since “friends” is plural, the verb “is” must be changed to the plural form “are” to match the number of the subject.
Helpful Tips for Improving Subject-Verb Agreement
Here are some useful tips for improving your subject-verb agreement when writing:
1. Identify the subject of the sentence first before selecting the verb. This will help you determine whether the verb should be singular or plural.
2. For sentences with compound subjects, decide whether they are singular or plural before selecting the correct verb.
3. Take care when using indefinite pronouns like “anyone” and “everyone” since they always require singular verbs.
4. Make sure to correctly identify the verb tense in relation to the subject; for example, if the subject is present tense, the verb should also be present tense.
5. When in doubt, read aloud your sentence. If it sounds incorrect, it probably is.
Subject-verb agreement is a crucial aspect of English grammar that affects the clarity and meaning of your writing. By following these simple tips and practicing regularly, you can improve your subject-verb agreement and become a more effective communicator in both written and spoken English.