General Agreement in English: Understanding Subject-Verb Concordance
One of the fundamental rules of English grammar is subject-verb agreement or concordance. Proper concordance ensures that sentences are grammatically correct, easy to read, and convey their intended meaning effectively.
Subject-verb agreement refers to the correspondence between the grammatical number of the subject and the verb of a sentence. In simpler terms, if the subject of a sentence is singular, the verb must also be singular, and if the subject is plural, the verb must be plural as well.
For instance, „The cat sleeps” is grammatically correct because the singular subject „cat” agrees with the singular verb „sleeps.” On the other hand, „The cats sleeps” is wrong because the plural subject „cats” does not agree with the singular verb „sleeps.” The correct form should be „The cats sleep.”
Here are some guidelines to follow when it comes to subject-verb concordance:
1. Singular subjects require singular verbs, and plural subjects require plural verbs.
– The dog barks. (singular subject and verb)
– The dogs bark. (plural subject and verb)
2. When a singular subject is joined by „or” or „nor” to another singular subject, the verb should agree with the closer subject.
– Neither the cat nor the dog is hungry. (singular subject and singular verb)
– Either the cat or the dogs are making that noise. (plural subject and plural verb)
3. Collective nouns, which refer to a group of individuals acting as one unit, can be either singular or plural, depending on the context. If the group is acting as one entity, use a singular verb. If the individuals in the group are acting independently, use a plural verb.
– The jury is deliberating. (singular verb because the jury is acting as one unit)
– The jury are arguing amongst themselves. (plural verb because the individuals in the jury are acting independently)
4. When the subject is an indefinite pronoun like „everyone,” „someone,” or „no one,” use a singular verb.
– Everyone loves chocolate. (singular subject and verb)
– No one knows the answer. (singular subject and verb)
5. When the subject is a compound noun, use a plural verb.
– The black and white cats are playing. (plural subject and verb)
– The coffee and muffin were delicious. (plural subject and verb)
Proper subject-verb agreement is essential to effective communication in both spoken and written English. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your sentences are grammatically correct, easy to understand, and convey your intended meaning accurately.