Oiling the Gears – Tutorial No. 3

Thank you for visiting my business writing blog.

As you proofread and edit your documents, check that your subjects and verbs agree in number:

Subject – Verb Agreement:  When the subject of a sentence is singular, the verb must be singular. When the subject is plural or compound, the verb must be plural.

Subject – Verb Disagreement:  Over the decades I’ve found a certain type of sentence most often contains a subject and a verb that do not agree. The danger sign is a prepositional phrase between the subject and the verb. If the object of this phrase differs in number with the subject, the verb often agrees with the prepositional object instead of with the real subject of the sentence.

For instance, read this sentence aloud: ‘Understanding that fully and acting on it is essential for success in every aspect of business.’

It probably sounded OK to you, even if you’re a native English speaker.

Next I’ll highlight the subject in blue (a compound subject in this case) and the verb in red. Now read only the coloured words:

Understanding that fully and acting on it is essential for success in every aspect of business.’

That sounds wrong, doesn’t it? But change the verb to the plural form, ‘are’ , and it sounds correct. This is how I recommend you check for subject-verb agreement in your business writing.

Watch the video tutorial for a closer look at this. And thank you once again for taking the time to visit my blog.

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About Copymentor

Australian and US copywriter, creative director and author
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