Subject-verb agreement is one of the most important aspects of grammar that every writer and editor should master. Failing to adhere to this grammar rule can create confusion and make your writing appear unprofessional. However, it is not always easy to identify the correct verb to use, especially when dealing with complex sentences. The good news is that there are simple exercises that can help you improve your subject-verb agreement skills.
The first exercise involves identifying the subject and the verb in a sentence. For example, in the sentence “The dog barks at the mailman,” the subject is “the dog,” and the verb is “barks.” You can practice identifying the subject and verb in various sentences until you are comfortable with this basic concept.
The second exercise involves ensuring that the verb agrees with the subject in terms of number. Singular subjects require singular verbs, while plural subjects require plural verbs. For instance, in the sentence “She runs every morning,” the singular subject “she” requires the singular verb “runs.” Similarly, in the sentence “They run every morning,” the plural subject “they” requires the plural verb “run.”
However, it is not always as straightforward as the examples above. Sometimes, the subject can be misleading, making it hard to identify the correct verb to use. For instance, in the sentence “The group of children is playing in the park,” the subject appears to be “group,” but it is actually “children.” Therefore, the correct verb to use should be plural, which is “are.”
Another challenging aspect of subject-verb agreement is when dealing with collective nouns. Collective nouns refer to a group of people or things treated as a unit. Examples of collective nouns include “team,” “family,” and “committee.” When using a collective noun as the subject of a sentence, it can be challenging to identify the correct verb to use. For example, in the sentence “The committee is meeting today,” the collective noun “committee” is singular and requires a singular verb, which is “is.”
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is an essential aspect of grammar that writers and editors must master. The good news is that it is a skill that can be improved through practice. By identifying the subject and verb in a sentence, ensuring that the verb agrees with the subject in terms of number, and understanding collective nouns, you can improve your subject-verb agreement skills and enhance the quality of your writing.