1. What is Subject-Verb Agreement and Why is it Important?
Subject-verb agreement is the grammatical rule that requires the verb to agree in number with the subject of a sentence. In other words, the verb must match the number of the subject, whether it is singular or plural.
For example, in the sentence “He walks to the park,” the subject “he” is singular and the verb “walks” agrees with it in number. However, in the sentence “They walk to the park,” the subject “they” is plural and the verb “walk” must be in agreement with it by removing the -s ending.
Subject-verb agreement is important because it helps to ensure clarity and accuracy in communication. When the subject and verb do not agree, the sentence can become confusing and difficult to understand. Additionally, errors in subject-verb agreement can make a writer or speaker appear less competent in their language skills. Therefore, it is essential to understand and apply this rule correctly in both writing and speaking.
2. Using “Is” and “Are” Correctly with Singular and Plural Nouns
“Is” is a singular form of the verb “to be,” and “are” is its plural form. Therefore, “is” is used with singular nouns, while “are” is used with plural nouns.
For example, “The cat is sleeping” uses “is” because the subject “cat” is singular. On the other hand, “The cats are sleeping” uses “are” because the subject “cats” is plural.
It’s important to note that some words may look plural but actually refer to a singular subject. For example, “news” is a singular noun, even though it refers to multiple pieces of information. Therefore, the sentence “The news are interesting” is incorrect, and it should be “The news is interesting” instead.
By following this rule, you can ensure that your writing and speaking are clear, concise, and grammatically correct.
3. Exceptions to the Rule: When to Use “Is” with Plural Nouns and “Are” with Singular Nouns
While the general rule is to use “is” with singular nouns and “are” with plural nouns, there are some exceptions to this rule.
One exception is with collective nouns, which refer to a group of individuals or things as a single unit. Examples of collective nouns include “team,” “jury,” and “family.” In American English, collective nouns are usually treated as singular nouns, so “is” should be used with them. For example, “The team is practicing for the game” is correct, while “The team are practicing for the game” is incorrect.
In British English, however, collective nouns can be treated as either singular or plural, depending on the context. For example, “The government is planning new policies” and “The government are divided on the issue” are both considered correct.
Another exception is with compound subjects, which are made up of two or more nouns or pronouns joined by “and.” When the compound subject refers to a single entity, it should be treated as a singular noun, and “is” should be used. For example, “Bread and butter is a common breakfast food” is correct.
However, when the compound subject refers to multiple individuals or things, it should be treated as a plural noun, and “are” should be used. For example, “Tom and Jerry are going to the party” is correct.
Understanding these exceptions can help you to use “is” and “are” correctly in more complex sentences.
4. Common Mistakes to Avoid with “Is” and “Are” in Writing and Speaking
One of the most common mistakes with “is” and “are” is using the wrong form of the verb with the subject. For example, saying “The company are growing rapidly” instead of “The company is growing rapidly” is a mistake because “company” is a singular noun.
Another common mistake is using “is” or “are” with the wrong tense. For example, saying “The dogs is barking” instead of “The dogs are barking” is incorrect because “is” is the present tense form of the verb, while “are” is the correct present tense form to use with plural nouns.
It’s also important to avoid using contractions incorrectly. For example, saying “There’s five apples in the basket” instead of “There are five apples in the basket” is incorrect because “there’s” is a contraction of “there is,” which should only be used with singular nouns.
Finally, it’s important to avoid using “is” and “are” redundantly in a sentence. For example, saying “The cat is sitting down and is grooming itself” could be simplified to “The cat is sitting down and grooming itself.”
By being aware of these common mistakes, you can ensure that your writing and speaking are clear, concise, and grammatically correct.
5. Practicing Proper Subject-Verb Agreement with “Is” and “Are” Exercises
Practicing subject-verb agreement exercises can help you to improve your grammar skills and avoid common mistakes. Here are some exercises to practice using “is” and “are” correctly:
- Identify the correct form of the verb to use with the subject in the following sentence: “The books _____ on the shelf.” (are/is)
- Choose the correct sentence that uses subject-verb agreement:
a) “The group of students are going on a field trip.”
b) “The group of students is going on a field trip.”
- Rewrite the following sentence to correct the subject-verb agreement: “My family is very big. There’s eight people in it.”
- Fill in the blank with the correct form of the verb: “The boy and his dog _______ playing in the park.” (are/is)
- Identify the correct form of the verb to use with the subject in the following sentence: “The cat and the dog _____ fighting over the toy.” (are/is)
By practicing these exercises, you can become more comfortable using “is” and “are” correctly in your writing and speaking.