Subject-verb agreement is one of the fundamental rules of English grammar that all writers must master to communicate effectively. It refers to how the subject of a sentence and the verb that follows it must agree in number and person. For instance, a singular subject requires a singular verb, while a plural subject requires a plural verb. However, there is a particular “kind” of subject-verb agreement that can be easily overlooked: the kind that refers to groups and collective nouns.
When it comes to group nouns, the general rule is that these words take a singular verb in American English and a plural verb in British English. For example, in American English, you would say “The team is playing well” while in British English, you would say “The team are playing well.” Similarly, in American English, “The company is expanding its operations” is correct while in British English, “The company are expanding their operations” is preferred.
There are also other instances where the noun appears to be plural but is treated as singular in subject-verb agreement. For example, words like “news,” “mathematics,” “physics,” and “economics” are singular in nature and require a singular verb. Therefore, you would say “The news is shocking” rather than “The news are shocking.”
Collective nouns are also another kind of subject-verb agreement that writers need to be aware of. These refer to words that describe groups of people, animals, or things that act as one entity. Examples of collective nouns include “team,” “family,” “audience,” “jury,” and “group.” In general, collective nouns take a singular verb when we refer to the group as a single entity and a plural verb when we refer to individuals within the group.
For example, “The family is going on vacation” is correct if we are referring to the family unit as a whole. However, if we are talking about family members individually, we would use a plural verb, as in “The family are taking their own cars to the beach.”
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is crucial in ensuring that your writing is clear, concise, and grammatically correct. Paying attention to the “kind” of subject-verb agreement involving groups and collective nouns can be challenging, but it is essential to ensure that your writing is error-free and effectively communicates your intended message.