As a copy editor, one of the most common errors I come across is verb subject agreement errors. This grammatical mistake is easily overlooked but can significantly affect the clarity and professionalism of your writing. In this article, we will discuss what verb subject agreement errors are, why they happen, and how to avoid them.
What are verb subject agreement errors?
Verbs must match their subjects in both number and person. If the subject of a sentence is singular, the verb must be singular. If the subject is plural, the verb must be plural. For example, “She plays the piano” is correct because “she” is a singular subject, and “plays” is a singular verb. However, “She play the piano” is incorrect because the verb “play” is plural, and the subject “she” is singular.
Why do verb subject agreement errors happen?
Verb subject agreement errors often occur when the writer is not paying attention to the subject`s number or is confused about the subject`s number. Another reason is that the writer sometimes gets confused when there are phrases between the subject and verb, causing them to forget the subject`s number. For example, “The book, as well as the coffee on the table, is hers” is correct because “book” is a singular subject, and “is” is a singular verb.
How to avoid verb subject agreement errors?
The best way to avoid this error is to always identify the subject of your sentence and ensure that the verb agrees with it in number and person. Additionally, avoid using indefinite pronouns such as “everyone,” “someone,” “nobody,” and “anybody” as singular subjects; they are plural and should be treated as such. For example, “Everyone brings their own lunch” is incorrect because “everyone” is a singular subject and “their” is a plural pronoun. Instead, you should write, “Everyone brings his or her own lunch.”
Another helpful tip is to double-check your writing after adding phrases between the subject and verb. If the phrase does not affect the subject`s number, the verb should still agree with the subject. For instance, “The dog, along with its puppies, barks every morning” is correct because “dog” is a singular subject, and “barks” is a singular verb.
In conclusion, verb subject agreement errors are a common mistake that can be easily avoided by paying attention to the subject`s number and person. Always double-check your writing to ensure that your verbs match your subjects, regardless of any phrases added between them. By following these essential tips, you can write grammatically correct sentences that convey your message clearly and professionally.