Subject-verb agreement is an essential aspect of grammar that many people struggle with in their writing. It refers to the agreement between the subject and verb in a sentence, which means that the verb must match the number and person of the subject. However, prepositional phrases can often complicate the issue of subject-verb agreement.
Prepositional phrases are groups of words that begin with a preposition (such as in, on, under, etc.) and end with a noun or pronoun. They are used to describe the relations between two different parts of a sentence. When writing sentences, it can be challenging to determine the subject and verb agreement when there are prepositional phrases involved.
To ensure proper subject-verb agreement, it is essential to identify the subject of the sentence and ignore any prepositional phrases that come before it. The subject is typically the noun or pronoun that performs the action in a sentence, while the verb is the action or state of being that the subject is doing. For example, in the sentence, “The dog under the table is barking,” the subject is “dog,” and the verb is “is barking.” The prepositional phrase “under the table” does not affect the subject-verb agreement.
However, if the prepositional phrase contains a noun or pronoun that could be misconstrued as the subject, it can cause confusion. For instance, in the sentence, “The book on the shelf is heavy,” the prepositional phrase “on the shelf” may seem like the subject of the sentence. Still, it is only a modifier of the noun “book.” The subject of the sentence is “book,” and the verb is “is heavy.”
Another common mistake in subject-verb agreement occurs when the subject is a collective noun. Collective nouns are singular nouns that refer to a group of people or things, such as “team,” “jury,” or “class.” When using a collective noun as a subject, it is crucial to match the verb agreement with whether the group is acting as a singular unit or as individual members. For instance, “The team is excited to play” is correct, while “The team are excited to play” is incorrect.
In conclusion, prepositional phrases can complicate subject-verb agreement, but with careful attention to identify the subject of the sentence, writers can ensure proper agreement between the subject and verb. Remember that prepositional phrases are only modifiers and do not affect the subject-verb agreement. Additionally, be mindful when using collective nouns as subjects and match the verb agreement accordingly. Following these guidelines will improve the clarity and correctness of your writing.