Verb Agreement in Syntax

Verb Agreement in Syntax
18/04/2023 Mats Bentzen

As a copy editor, one of the most important aspects of grammar that I always look out for is verb agreement in syntax. This refers to the matching of the verb with the subject in a sentence, which is a crucial component of clear and effective communication. A sentence with incorrect verb agreement can not only be difficult to read and understand, but it can also affect the credibility of the writer and the organization they are representing.

So, what exactly is verb agreement in syntax? It simply means that the verb used in a sentence should agree in number (singular or plural) with the subject of that sentence. For example, “He plays soccer” is correct, while “He play soccer” is not. In the latter sentence, the verb “play” does not agree with the singular subject “he”. Similarly, “The dogs barks” should be corrected to “The dogs bark” because the subject “dogs” is plural, and therefore requires a plural verb “bark”.

Correct verb agreement is especially important in longer or more complex sentences, where it can be easy to lose track of the subject and verb. In such cases, it is crucial to ensure that the verb matches the subject in both number and person (first, second, or third). For example, “She and I are going to the park” is correct, while “She and I is going to the park” is not.

Another important aspect of verb agreement is ensuring consistency in tense. When writing in the past tense, for example, it is important to ensure that the verb used in a sentence is also in the past tense. Inconsistent tense usage can be confusing for readers and can make the writing appear unprofessional.

In addition to ensuring correct verb agreement in syntax, using active voice can also help to improve clarity and readability. Active voice refers to sentences in which the subject is performing the action, rather than receiving it. For example, “The cat chased the mouse” is in active voice, while “The mouse was chased by the cat” is in passive voice. Active voice sentences are often more concise and easier to understand, making them ideal for SEO optimization.

In conclusion, verb agreement in syntax is a crucial aspect of effective communication and should be given careful attention by writers and editors alike. Correct verb usage can improve the clarity and readability of a sentence, while also enhancing the credibility of the writer and their organization. By ensuring that verbs match their subjects in number, person, and tense, writers can create content that is both engaging and professional.