As a copy editor, one of the most common errors I come across is subject-verb agreement. This is a fundamental aspect of English grammar that is often overlooked and can greatly affect the clarity and professionalism of your writing.
Subject-verb agreement means that the subject and verb in a sentence must agree in number. In other words, if the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular, and if the subject is plural, the verb must be plural.
Let`s look at some examples:
Incorrect: The dog barks loudly in the morning.
Correct: The dog barks loudly in the morning.
In this example, the subject “dog” is singular, so the verb “barks” is also singular. If we were to change the subject to a plural noun, such as “dogs,” the verb would need to be plural as well: “The dogs bark loudly in the morning.”
Incorrect: The team are practicing for their next game.
Correct: The team is practicing for its next game.
In this example, the subject “team” is singular, so the verb “is” should also be singular. Using “are” would indicate that the team is made up of multiple individuals, which is not the case.
It can be tricky when dealing with collective nouns, such as “group” or “committee,” which refer to a singular entity but are made up of multiple individuals. In these cases, you need to determine whether the collective noun is acting as a singular unit or separately as individuals.
Incorrect: The committee have differing opinions on the matter.
Correct: The committee has differing opinions on the matter.
In this example, “committee” is acting as a singular unit, so the verb should be singular.
Subject-verb agreement is especially important when it comes to SEO. Search engines favor clear and concise content that is easy for readers to understand. If your writing is full of grammatical errors, including subject-verb agreement, it can negatively impact your search rankings and the user experience.
As a copy editor, I always recommend reviewing your writing for subject-verb agreement before publishing. This can be easily done by reading your sentences out loud and ensuring that the subject and verb match in number.
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is an essential aspect of English grammar that should not be overlooked. By paying attention to this rule, you can improve the clarity and professionalism of your writing and positively impact your search rankings.