Rules to Observe Subject Verb Agreement

Subject-verb agreement is an essential aspect of English grammar. It is the rule that governs the relationship between the subject and the verb in a sentence. The subject of a sentence is the person, animal, thing, or idea that the sentence is about. The verb is the action or state of being that the subject is doing or undergoing. To ensure clear and effective communication, it is important to observe the rules of subject-verb agreement. Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when writing:

1. Singular Subjects Take Singular Verbs

When the subject of a sentence is singular, the verb must also be singular. For example, “The dog barks” is correct, while “The dog bark” is incorrect.

2. Plural Subjects Take Plural Verbs

Similarly, when the subject of a sentence is plural, the verb must also be plural. For example, “The dogs bark” is correct, while “The dogs barks” is incorrect.

3. Subjects Joined by “And” Take Plural Verbs

When two or more subjects are joined by “and,” the verb must be plural. For example, “The cat and the dog play” is correct, while “The cat and the dog plays” is incorrect.

4. Subjects Joined by “Or” or “Nor” Take a Verb That Agrees with the Closest Subject

When two or more subjects are joined by “or” or “nor,” the verb must agree with the subject closest to the verb. For example, “Neither the cat nor the dog is here” is correct, while “Neither the cat nor the dog are here” is incorrect.

5. Indefinite Pronouns Take Singular Verbs

Indefinite pronouns, such as “everyone,” “someone,” and “nobody,” always take singular verbs. For example, “Everyone is going to the party” is correct, while “Everyone are going to the party” is incorrect.

6. Collective Nouns Can Take Singular or Plural Verbs

A collective noun refers to a group of people or things. Collective nouns can take singular or plural verbs, depending on whether the group is viewed as a single entity or as individuals. For example, “The team is playing well” is correct, while “The team are playing well” is also correct when referring to individual team members.

7. Verbs That End in “-s” Take Singular Subjects

Verbs that end in “-s,” such as “aches,” “cares,” and “works,” take singular subjects. For example, “The headache aches” is correct, while “The headache ache” is incorrect.

By following these basic rules of subject-verb agreement, you can communicate more effectively and accurately in your writing. Remember to always ensure that the verb agrees with the subject in person and number. Consistency is key, and with practice, subject-verb agreement will become second nature.

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