Common Errors in English Subject Verb Agreement

As a copy editor, one of the most common mistakes I encounter is the incorrect agreement between subjects and verbs in English. Subject-verb agreement is a fundamental aspect of grammar that cannot be overlooked and is essential in communicating effectively. Therefore, it is essential to learn the rules and avoid making common errors. In this article, we will discuss some of the most frequent mistakes in subject-verb agreement and how to correct them.

1. Plural subjects with singular verbs

One of the most common mistakes is using a singular verb with plural subjects. For instance, “The team are playing” should be corrected to “The team is playing.” The rule for this error is simple: a plural subject requires a plural verb, while a singular subject requires a singular verb.

2. Indefinite pronouns

Indefinite pronouns are singular and, therefore, require singular verbs. Some examples of indefinite pronouns include everybody, anyone, everyone, and someone. For example, “Everyone is here” is correct, while “Everyone are here” is incorrect.

3. Collective Nouns

Collective nouns are singular but refer to a group of people or things. Examples of collective nouns include a team, a crowd, or a family. These words need a singular verb. For example, “The team is practicing,” but not “The team are practicing.”

4. Compound subjects with different modifiers

When you have a compound subject, which means two or more subjects in the same sentence, connected by a conjunction, such as “and,” “or,” or “nor,” you must use a plural verb. For example, “The dog and the cat are playing,” but not “The dog and the cat is playing”.

5. Titles and Names

When using the titles of books, movies, and songs, or using the names of companies, organizations, or teams, you must make sure to use the singular verb. For instance, “The Beatles is a famous band,” not “The Beatles are a famous band.”

In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is a critical aspect of grammar. The rules for subject-verb agreement are not complicated, and avoiding these common errors is essential for clear communication. If you are unsure about the correct agreement between subjects and verbs, it might be beneficial to consult a grammar guide or seek professional help from a copy editor. Remember, effective communication is key, and mastering subject-verb agreement is an essential step.