Subject-Verb Agreement Mistakes: Common Errors to Avoid

Subject-verb agreement is a fundamental rule of grammar that determines the relationship between a subject and its corresponding verb within a sentence. This agreement helps in ensuring that the sentence conveys a clear and concise meaning to the reader. However, many writers often make mistakes in subject-verb agreement, which can lead to confusion for the reader. In this article, we will discuss the most common subject-verb agreement mistakes and ways to avoid them.

1. Singular and Plural Nouns

One of the most common mistakes in subject-verb agreement is the confusion between singular and plural nouns. If the subject of a sentence is singular, the verb that follows it should also be singular. Similarly, if the subject of the sentence is plural, the verb should also be plural. For example:

– Singular subject: The cat walks on the street.

– Plural subject: The cats walk on the street.

A common mistake that writers make is when they use a plural subject with a singular verb, or vice versa. For example:

– Incorrect: The group of friends is going out for lunch.

– Correct: The group of friends are going out for lunch.

In this example, the writer mistakenly used a singular verb `is` with a plural subject `group of friends,` which is incorrect. Instead, the writer should have used the plural verb `are.`

2. Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns, such as everyone, somebody, nobody, and anyone, can also cause confusion in subject-verb agreement. These pronouns can be singular or plural, depending on the context. For example:

– Singular: Everyone wants to be happy.

– Plural: Some of the students are confused.

When using indefinite pronouns, it is essential to understand whether they are singular or plural to determine the correct verb to use.

3. Compound Subjects

A compound subject consists of two or more subjects joined by `and,` `or,` or `nor.` The verb that follows a compound subject should agree with the subject closest to it. For example:

– Compound subject joined by `and`: John and Mary sing in the choir.

– Compound subject joined by `or`: Either John or Mary is going to the concert.

In this example, the verb `is` agrees with the singular subject `Mary,` and not the plural subject `John.`

4. Collective Nouns

Collective nouns, such as team, family, and committee, refer to a group of people or things acting as a unit. They can be singular or plural, depending on the context. For example:

– Singular: The committee is meeting tomorrow.

– Plural: The family are going on vacation.

When using collective nouns, it is vital to understand whether they are acting as a unit or as individuals to determine the correct verb to use.

In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is a crucial aspect of grammar that writers need to understand and apply correctly. Mistakes in subject-verb agreement can make a sentence unclear and confusing for the reader. By avoiding the common mistakes we have discussed in this article, writers can improve the clarity and impact of their writing.