Subject-verb agreement can be a bit of a puzzle for those who are not familiar with the rules. In this article, we will explore some common subject-verb agreement puzzles and how to solve them.
The first puzzle that often arises is when the subject and verb do not agree in number. For instance, if the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular. If the subject is plural, the verb must also be plural. For example, “The cat sleeps” is correct, while “The cat sleep” is incorrect. Another example is “The cats sleep,” which is correct, while “The cats sleeps” is incorrect.
The second puzzle can arise when the subject is separated from the verb by phrases or clauses. In such cases, it is essential to identify the subject and make sure that the verb agrees with it, not the intervening phrases or clauses. For example, “Running in the park, the dog chases the ball” is incorrect because ‘running in the park’ is not the subject. It should be rephrased to “The dog chases the ball while running in the park.”
The third puzzle comes when the subject is a collective noun that can be singular or plural, depending on the context. For example, “The committee agrees on the proposal” is correct because the committee here is seen as a single entity. However, “The committee disagree on the proposal” is incorrect, and it should be rewritten as “The members of the committee disagree on the proposal.”
The fourth puzzle arises when the subject and verb don’t agree in tense. In such cases, it is essential to match the tense of the verb with the tense of the subject. For instance, “The cat slept” is correct, while “The cat sleep” is incorrect.
Lastly, the fifth puzzle arises when using indefinite pronouns such as “everyone,” “someone,” or “anyone.” These pronouns are singular, even though they refer to many people. It is, therefore, essential to use a singular verb when these pronouns are the subject of the sentence. For example, “Everyone was happy” is correct, while “Everyone were happy” is incorrect.
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is a fundamental aspect of proper grammar and communication. Understanding the rules and solving these puzzles will help you write and speak confidently and correctly. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can enhance your writing skills and convey your message effectively.