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Twenty Rules of Subject Verb Agreement

As a copy editor, it is essential to have a good command of subject-verb agreement. Proper subject-verb agreement ensures that your writing is clear, precise, and easy to understand. In this article, we will go through twenty rules of subject-verb agreement that will help you enhance your writing skills and make your work more effective.

1. Always ensure that the subject and verb agree in number. For instance, singular subjects should take singular verbs, and plural subjects should take plural verbs.

2. A singular noun takes a singular verb, and a plural noun takes a plural verb. For example, “The cat is sleeping” and “The cats are sleeping.”

3. Use the singular verb with words that indicate a specific amount, such as “every,” “each,” “either,” “neither,” and “one.” For instance, “Every student knows the answer.”

4. Use the plural verb with words that refer to multiple things, such as “several,” “a few,” “many,” and “numerous.” For instance, “Several employees are absent.”

5. Make sure compound subjects are joined by “and” and take a plural verb. For instance, “John and Jane are coming.”

6. Use singular verbs with compound subjects joined by “or” or “nor.” For example, “Neither Jane nor John is coming.”

7. When using “either/or” or “neither/nor,” the verb agrees with the noun that is closest to the verb. For example, “Neither the teacher nor the students are happy.”

8. Collective nouns like “team,” “group,” “jury,” “committee,” and “family” can take either singular or plural verbs, depending on the context. For instance, “The committee is divided” or “The committee members are divided.”

9. When using “each” and “every,” use a singular verb. For instance, “Every student has a book.”

10. When using “some,” “most,” or “all,” the verb should agree with the noun after the word “of.” For instance, “Some of the cake was eaten.”

11. Indefinite pronouns such as “everyone,” “someone,” “anyone,” “nobody,” “everybody,” and “each” take singular verbs. For example, “Everyone is here.”

12. The words “number” and “amount” take a singular verb, while “numbers” and “amounts” take plural verbs. For instance, “The number of employees is decreasing.”

13. The subject-verb agreement does not depend on the words that come between them. For example, “The dog, as well as the cat, likes to play.”

14. Words such as “plus,” “with,” and “together with” do not change the subject-verb agreement. For instance, “The apple, together with the orange, was on the table.”

15. For titles of books, films, plays, etc., use a singular verb. For instance, “The Lord of the Rings is a famous book.”

16. For words that end in “s,” such as “news,” “mathematics,” and “physics,” use a singular verb. For instance, “Physics is a complex subject.”

17. For phrases that start with “there” or “here,” the verb agrees with the following subject. For instance, “There are three cats in the room.”

18. In sentences that express preference, the verb agrees with the noun closer to the verb. For example, “The teacher or the students like ice cream.”

19. When using “none,” use a singular verb when referring to a singular noun, and a plural verb when referring to a plural noun. For instance, “None of the water was spilled” and “None of the students were absent.”

20. Finally, always proofread your writing for correct subject-verb agreement. Even the slightest mistake can make your writing confusing and difficult to understand.

In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is crucial in effective writing. By following these twenty rules, you will improve your writing skills and produce clear and precise content that your readers will appreciate. Remember to always proofread your work and make sure that your subject and verb agree in number.

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