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Verb Agreement with Multiple Subjects

When it comes to writing, ensuring proper subject-verb agreement is a crucial aspect of effective communication. This is especially important when it involves multiple subjects. In this article, we will explore the rules of verb agreement with multiple subjects and how to apply them for better writing.

Firstly, it is essential to understand that the verb in a sentence has to agree with its subject in terms of number. In other words, a singular subject requires a singular verb, while a plural subject must have a plural verb. For example, “The dog barks” is correct because “dog” is a singular subject, and “barks” is a singular verb. On the other hand, “The dogs bark” is also correct since “dogs” is a plural subject, and “bark” is a plural verb.

When it comes to multiple subjects, things can get a bit tricky. The general rule is to determine if the subjects are joined by “and” or “or”. When two or more subjects are joined by “and,” the verb should be in the plural form. For example, “John and Jane attend the same school.” The two subjects, “John” and “Jane,” are joined by “and,” making them plural, so the verb “attend” is also in the plural form.

On the other hand, when two or more subjects are joined by “or,” the verb should agree with the subject closer to it. For instance, “Either John or Jane is responsible.” In this sentence, “John” and “Jane” are joined by “or,” but since “Jane” is closer to the verb “is,” it is in the singular form.

When there are both singular and plural subjects in a sentence, a common mistake is to use the verb that agrees with the subject closest to it. For example, “The dog and cats love to play.” This sentence is incorrect because “dog” is the singular subject, and “cats” is a plural subject. The correct sentence should read, “The dog loves to play, and the cats love to play.”

In conclusion, proper subject-verb agreement is crucial for effective writing, especially when it comes to multiple subjects. By following the basic rules of agreement with “and” or “or” conjunctions and ensuring that verbs match the nearest subject, copy editors can enhance the clarity and professionalism of any piece of writing.