Grammatical Agreement in English: A Guide for Writers
Grammatical agreement, also known as subject-verb agreement, is an essential aspect of the English language. This grammatical rule ensures that subject and verb match in number, person, and tense. The incorrect usage of subject-verb agreement can lead to confusion and misinterpretation of sentences. Therefore, it is crucial for writers to pay close attention to this aspect of grammar. In this article, we will explore the rules of grammatical agreement in English and provide tips to help writers improve their writing.
Subject-Verb Agreement Rules
The fundamental rule of subject-verb agreement is that the subject and verb must agree in number. If the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular. Conversely, if the subject is plural, the verb must also be plural. Consider the following examples:
Correct: The dog barks at the mailman. (Singular subject, singular verb)
Incorrect: The dog bark at the mailman.
Correct: The dogs bark at the mailman. (Plural subject, plural verb)
Incorrect: The dogs barks at the mailman.
In addition to number, subject-verb agreement also depends on person and tense. The verb must agree with the subject in person (first, second or third) and tense (past, present, future). Consider the following examples:
Correct: She reads a book every night. (Third-person singular subject, present tense verb)
Incorrect: She read a book every night.
Correct: We are going to the beach tomorrow. (First-person plural subject, future tense verb)
Incorrect: We is going to the beach tomorrow.
Tips to Improve Your Writing
To improve your writing and ensure proper grammatical agreement, keep the following tips in mind:
1. Identify the subject and verb in a sentence. The subject is typically the noun or pronoun that performs the action in the sentence, while the verb is the action word.
2. Make sure the subject and verb agree in number, person, and tense. Use the appropriate verb form depending on the subject.
3. Be careful when using collective nouns, which can be either singular or plural depending on the context. For example, “The team is playing well” and “The team are discussing their strategy” are both correct, depending on whether you are emphasizing the group as a unit or individuals.
4. Pay attention to compound subjects joined by conjunctions. Use a plural verb when the subjects are joined by “and” and a singular verb when joined by “or” or “nor.”
5. Finally, read your writing aloud or have someone else read it to check for errors in grammatical agreement. This can help catch mistakes that may not be evident when reading silently.
Grammatical agreement is an essential aspect of English grammar and is critical for clear and effective communication. By following the rules of subject-verb agreement and keeping these tips in mind, writers can improve their writing and ensure that their message is conveyed clearly and accurately.