Archive for the '<subject/verb agreement>' Category

Usher and an Error in Subject/Verb Agreement

June 15, 2006

Usher, together with dozens of volunteers, have joined an effort to clean up the grounds of a school in New Orleans that suffered grave damage from Hurricane Katrina.

This sentence contains an error in subject/verb agreement. The subject, "Usher," is singular, and the verb, "have joined," is plural.

The phrase set off by commas, "together with dozens of volunteers," is not part of the subject. When determining agreement between a subject and a verb, ignore words that come between them. Consider crossing off these words to isolate the subject and the verb.

This is the corrected sentence with this trick employed:

Usher, together with dozens of volunteers, has joined an effort to clean up the grounds of a school in New Orleans that suffered grave damage from Hurricane Katrina.

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Britney Spears and Two Agreement Errors

June 12, 2006

In an interview with Matt Lauer, Britney Spears explained that neither the tabloids nor motherhood have taken their toll on her good spirits.

This sentence contains two errors: one in subject/verb agreement and one in pronoun/antecedent agreement. When correlative conjunctions, such as "neither" and "nor," are used in a sentence, the subject closer to the verb and the referent pronoun determines the number of those words. Crossing off everything from "neither" to "nor" may help in identifying the subject:

In an interview with Matt Lauer, Britney Spears explained that neither the tabloids nor motherhood have taken their toll on her good spirits.

Now that the first part of the subject has been crossed off, it is clear that the subject of the clause is "motherhood," which is singular, and that the verb ("have taken") and the referent pronoun ("their") are plural. Change the number of the verb and the referent pronoun so that they are in agreement with the subject of the clause.

In an interview with Matt Lauer, Britney Spears explained that neither the tabloids nor motherhood has taken its toll on her good spirits.

The Da Vinci Code, Sofia Coppola’s Marie-Antoinette, and an Error in Subject/Verb Agreement

May 25, 2006

Neither Ron Howard's The Da Vinci Code nor Sofia Coppola's Marie-Antoinette were well-received at the Cannes Film Festival, as film critics booed during the screening of each film.

This sentence contains an error in subject/verb agreement. When subjects in a sentence are linked by the correlative conjunctions "neither/nor," the subject that is closer to the verb determines the number of the verb. The "neither/nor" pairing of two singular subjects does not use a plural verb.

In this sentence, the subject closer to the verb "were" is "Sofia Coppola's Marie-Antoinette." Titles of works (such as books, plays, and movies) are singular, so the verb in this sentence should be singular. Change "were" to "was" to correct this sentence.

Neither Ron Howard's The Da Vinci Code nor Sofia Coppola's Marie-Antoinette was well-received at the Cannes Film Festival, as film critics booed during the screening of each film.

A simple trick to use when determining agreement in sentences that contain the correlative conjunctions "either/or" and "neither/nor" is to cross off all the words from "either" (or "neither") to "or" (or "nor"). The subject will now stand out, making it easier to match its number with that of the verb.

Neither Ron Howard's The Da Vinci Code nor Sofia Coppola's Marie-Antoinette was well-received at the Cannes Film Festival, as film critics booed during the screening of each film.

Madonna and Two Errors in Agreement

May 18, 2006

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, who are in a salary dispute with the owners of the LA Forum, are planning to picket Madonna's concert in Los Angeles this weekend.

This sentence contains two types of errors in agreement: subject/verb agreement and pronoun/antecedent agreement.

The antecedent, "the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees," is an organization; names of organizations, groups, and name brands, as well as titles of works (books, paintings, plays, musical compositions), are singular. The verbs in this sentence, two instances of "are," are plural. To correct this sentence, change the number of the verbs.

An organization is a thing, so the pronoun "who" is incorrect. Change the pronoun to "which."

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which is in a salary dispute with the owners of the LA Forum, is planning to picket Madonna's concert in Los Angeles this weekend.

Brooke, Katie, and an Error in Subject/Verb Agreement

May 14, 2006

Brooke Shields, as well as Katie Holmes, were in the hospital to give birth on April 18, 2006.

This sentence is incorrect because it contains an error in subject/verb agreement. A modifying phrase ("as well as Katie Holmes") that comes between the subject ("Brooke Shields") and the verb ("were") must be ignored when determining subject/verb agreement. In this sentence, the subject is singular and the verb is plural. Correct the sentence by changing the number of the verb.

Brooke Shields, as well as Katie Holmes, was in the hospital to give birth on April 18, 2006.