Subject-verb agreement is a crucial aspect of writing any piece of content. To write grammatically correct sentences, one must make sure that the subject and verb agree in number. This means that a singular subject takes a singular verb and a plural subject takes a plural verb. However, this rule can be a bit tricky, especially when dealing with complex sentences. To help you write effectively and avoid common mistakes, here are some short tricks for subject-verb agreement.

1. Identify the Subject

Before you can ensure subject-verb agreement, you must first identify the subject of the sentence. The subject is typically the person, place, or thing doing the action in the sentence. You can easily find the subject by asking yourself who or what is performing the action in the sentence.

2. Ignore the Prepositional Phrase

Prepositional phrases usually begin with a preposition like “of,” “from,” “at,” or “with.” These phrases can be confusing when trying to determine the subject. Ignore the prepositional phrase and focus on the subject that comes before the preposition.

For example, in the sentence “The book on the shelf belongs to me,” the subject is “book,” not “shelf” or “me.”

3. Watch Out for Compound Subjects

When a sentence has two or more subjects joined by “and,” the verb should be plural. However, if the subjects are connected by “or” or “nor,” the verb should agree with the subject closest to it.

For example, in the sentence “John and Sarah like to play tennis,” the verb “like” is plural because of the two subjects. In the sentence “Neither John nor Sarah likes to play tennis,” the verb “likes” is singular because it agrees with the closest subject “Sarah.”

4. Take Note of Collective Nouns

Collective nouns refer to a group of people, animals, or things acting as a unit. These nouns can be singular or plural, depending on the context. When referring to the group as a whole, use a singular verb. However, when referring to the individual members of the group, use a plural verb.

For example, in the sentence “The team is playing well,” the verb “is” is singular, referring to the team as a whole. In the sentence “The team are wearing their uniforms,” the verb “are” is plural, referring to the individual members of the team.

5. Use Indefinite Pronouns Carefully

Indefinite pronouns like “everyone,” “someone,” and “no one” can be tricky when it comes to subject-verb agreement. These pronouns may sound plural, but they are actually singular and require a singular verb.

For example, in the sentence “Everyone in the room is listening,” the verb “is” is singular to agree with the singular pronoun “everyone.”

In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is an essential aspect of writing that cannot be overlooked. By using these short tricks, you can write grammatically correct sentences that are both clear and effective. Remember to always identify the subject, ignore prepositional phrases, watch out for compound subjects and collective nouns, and use indefinite pronouns carefully. With these tips in mind, you can improve your writing and impress your readers.