As a copy editor, knowing how to properly apply the rules of subject-verb agreement is crucial to producing high-quality content that is both grammatically correct and optimized for search engine optimization (SEO). Essentially, subject-verb agreement refers to the need for a subject and verb in a sentence to match in terms of their number and person.
For example, if the subject of a sentence is singular, then the verb must also be singular. Conversely, if the subject is plural, the verb must also be plural. This is a relatively simple concept, yet it can become confusing when the subject and verb are separated by intervening words or phrases.
One of the most common mistakes made in subject-verb agreement is when it comes to using collective nouns, which refer to groups of people or things. These nouns can be singular or plural depending on the context in which they are used. For example, when referring to a single group of people as a whole, the collective noun should be treated as singular. On the other hand, when referring to the individuals within a group as separate entities, the noun should be treated as plural.
Another tricky area when it comes to subject-verb agreement is with indefinite pronouns, which refer to people or things that are not specifically identified. These pronouns can be singular or plural depending on the context. For example, the pronoun “everyone” is singular, while “both” is plural. Other indefinite pronouns like “anyone,” “someone,” and “everyone” can also be confusing, but they are always treated as singular.
One way to ensure that your content has proper subject-verb agreement is to simply proofread carefully and double-check your work. Additionally, there are several online resources and tools available that can help you spot and correct errors in your writing. The Hemingway editor, for example, is an online tool that can help identify issues with subject-verb agreement, as well as other grammatical and stylistic errors.
In conclusion, mastering the rules of subject-verb agreement is essential for any copy editor looking to produce high-quality content that is optimized for SEO. While mistakes can be made, the key is to remain vigilant and always double-check your work to ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and error-free.