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Subject Verb Agreement Rules Made Simple

Subject-verb agreement is a fundamental aspect of grammar that can make or break the clarity and effectiveness of your writing. As the name suggests, it refers to the rule that the verb in a sentence must agree with the subject in terms of number (singular or plural). Despite its importance, many writers struggle with subject-verb agreement, leading to awkward and confusing sentences. In this article, we`ll explore some subject-verb agreement rules made simple that will help you write with confidence and clarity.

1. Identify the subject

The first step to mastering subject-verb agreement is identifying the subject of the sentence. The subject is the noun or pronoun that performs the action or is the focus of the sentence. Once you`ve identified the subject, you can determine whether it is singular or plural and choose the appropriate verb form.

For example, in the sentence “The cat jumps over the fence,” the subject is “cat,” which is singular, so the verb “jumps” is also singular. On the other hand, in the sentence “The cats jump over the fence,” the subject is “cats,” which is plural, so the verb “jump” is also plural.

2. Use “s” for third-person singular

One of the most common subject-verb agreement mistakes is forgetting to add an “s” to the end of the verb for third-person singular subjects (he, she, it). Many writers mistakenly use the plural form of the verb, leading to sentences like “She walk to the store” instead of “She walks to the store.” Remember to add an “s” to the verb for third-person singular subjects.

3. Pay attention to compound subjects

When a sentence has a compound subject (two or more subjects connected by “and”), the verb should be plural. For example, in the sentence “John and Mary are going to the movies,” the compound subject “John and Mary” is plural, so the verb “are” is also plural.

However, if the compound subjects are joined by “or” or “nor,” the verb should agree with the closest subject. For example, in the sentence “Neither John nor Mary is going to the movies,” the closest subject to the verb “is” is “Mary,” which is singular, so the verb is also singular.

4. Don`t be fooled by prepositional phrases

Prepositional phrases (words that describe the location or relationship between two things, such as “in the house” or “on the table”) can sometimes confuse subject-verb agreement. However, the verb should agree with the subject, not the object of the preposition. For example, in the sentence “The book on the table is interesting,” the prepositional phrase “on the table” is not the subject of the sentence, so the verb “is” agrees with the singular subject “book.”

In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is a crucial element of effective writing, and mastering its rules can improve the clarity and readability of your work. By identifying the subject, using “s” for third-person singular, paying attention to compound subjects, and not being fooled by prepositional phrases, you can ensure that your writing is grammatically correct and easy to understand. Happy writing!

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