English language and editing · Uncategorized

Agree or Not Agree (Subject-Verb Agreement)

Charis for writing

Lesson 40
Agree or Not Agree
(Subject-Verb Agreement)

Let’s take a look at the following sentences taken from authentic sources:
1. The number of people that came were over 300
2. The presence of many problems suggest we are in a difficult situation
3. The works of the artist was on display last week
4. Damage from wind, fire and rain pose a big threat to crops
5. The reaction to his actions were unexpected
6. One of the people who has the potential to become the leader are not here.

In case you haven’t noticed, all the sentences above have a similar problem of lack of subject – verb agreement. What this means is that, the number (singular or plural) of the subject does not tally with the number of the verb. For example, ‘the children’ is plural so I can only use verbs in the plural such as ‘were, play, have, clean’ ; it would therefore be inappropriate to say: the children plays all the time.

Of course, this is obvious for majority of us. But the problem arises when we have more than one ‘subject’ apparently coming before the verb. This is not necessarily true since the verb can only belong to one subject (even if it’s plural). The issue then comes with being able to identify the right one being referred to by the verb in order to choose the right number.

In our subsequent lessons, we will be analysing the sentences one after the other and correcting the agreement accordingly. In the meantime, you may try correcting them yourself and send to us.

Hope you learnt something this week. We are back next week.
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