As a copy editor, it`s crucial to ensure that the subject and verb in a sentence agree with each other. Subject-verb agreement errors are common and can impact the clarity and readability of your writing. These mistakes can also affect your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts since search engines favor well-written, error-free content. In this article, we`ll explore some of the most common subject-verb agreement errors and how to avoid them.
First, let`s review what subject-verb agreement means. In a sentence, the subject is the person, place, thing, or idea that the sentence is about, while the verb is the action or state of being that the subject is performing. The subject and verb must agree in number, meaning that a singular subject requires a singular verb, and a plural subject requires a plural verb.
One common error in subject-verb agreement is when a singular subject is paired with a plural verb or vice versa. For example, “The group of students were excited about their field trip” should actually read, “The group of students was excited about their field trip.” In this case, “group” is a singular subject, and “was” is the correct singular verb form to match it. Similarly, “The committee meets on Fridays” would be incorrect because “committee” is a singular subject and requires the singular verb form “meets.”
Another common error is when the subject and verb are separated by a phrase or clause. In these cases, it`s important to match the verb to the subject, not the noun in the phrase or clause. For example, “The list of chores that need to be done are long” should be corrected to “The list of chores that needs to be done is long.” Here, the subject is “list,” which is singular, and the verb should reflect that.
Watch out for tricky subjects, like collective nouns, that can be singular or plural depending on context. For example, “The team is working hard” is correct because “team” is functioning as a singular group. However, “The team are arguing with each other” would be incorrect since the members of the team are being referred to as individuals, making “team” a plural subject that requires the plural verb “are.”
Finally, be mindful of compound subjects, which are two or more subjects joined by “and.” If the subjects are both singular, the verb should be singular. If they are both plural, the verb should be plural. If they are a mixture of singular and plural, the verb should agree with the subject closest to it. For example, “The cat and the dog loves to play” should read “The cat and the dog love to play,” since both subjects are singular.
In summary, subject-verb agreement is an essential part of clear, effective writing and can impact your SEO efforts. Common errors include mismatched singular and plural subjects and verbs, separating subjects and verbs with phrases or clauses, and tricky subjects like collective nouns. By understanding these errors and how to avoid them, you can improve the quality of your writing and boost your search engine ranking.