Thursday, January 12, 2012

Subject verb agreement

Students should pay attention to subject verb agreement when they write their essays. In this post, I shall tell readers a little bit about this aspect of the English language.

In English, a singular subject should be followed by a singular verb, that is, a verb which has an 's' after it. Look at the following examples.
1 The boy likes to sing. ['boy' is singular and 'likes' is an singular verb.]
2. Hashim drives to work every day. [Hashim is singular and 'drives' is a singular verb.]
3. It is cute. [The pronoun 'It' is singular and the auxiliary verb 'is' is singular.]

When the subject is an abstract noun, it is considered singular and hence takes a singular verb. For instance, you can write sentences such as what are shown below.
1 Water is important to all living things. [Water is an abstract noun and it is singular]
2 Beauty is but skin deep. [Beauty is an abstract noun and is considered to be singular.]

Likewise, a plural subject will take a plural verb, a verb without the 's'. Let us look at some examples.
1 Boys are usualy naughty. ['Boys' is plural and hence takes a plural verb such as 'are']
2 They come here almost every evening. ['They' is plural and is followed by the plural verb 'come']

Some words may not have 's' but are plural in nature. These include cattle, the police, the poor, and the Chinese. Hence you can write sentences such as the ones below.
1 Cattle are reared by the villagers there.
2 The poor are give financial aid by the government.
3 The Chinese are celebrating Chinese New Year a week from now.

So much for subject verb agreement for today's post.

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