Agreement

Hello, Write Owls. Welcome to Day Eight of Grammar 110. Today we’re discussing agreement.

Agreement can be between subjects and verbs and pronouns and antecedents.

Subject-verb agreement is ensuring singular subjects are associated with singular verb forms and plural subjects are associated with plural verb forms.

Examples:

She loves reading and writing. (She is singular, so the verb is in the singular form, loves.)

They love reading and writing. (They is plural, so the verb is in the plural form, love.)

Most people run into trouble with subject-verb agreement when dealing with indefinite pronouns and collective nouns.

Examples:

Neither of us is going to the writing conference. (Neither is singular, so it uses a singular verb, is.)

Both of us are going to the writing conference. (Both is plural, so it uses the plural verb, are.)

Some of the painting is damaged. (In this case, some is singular, so it uses the singular verb, is.)

Some of the pages are missing. (In this case, some is plural, so it uses the plural verb, are.)

My class is going on a field trip. (The class is going on the field trip together, so class is singular. It uses a singular verb, is.)

The flock of sheep are scattered across the hillside. (The various sheep in the flock are in different locations and acting as individuals, so flock is plural. It uses a plural verb, are.)

Pronoun-antecedent agreement ensures singular pronouns are associated with singular antecedents and plural pronouns are associated with plural antecedents. Antecedents are the previous noun or pronoun to which the pronoun is referring. Again, most people run into problems with indefinite pronouns.

Examples:

Each person is providing his or her own food. (Each is singular, so the pronouns must be singular: his, her, and his or her depending on the context.)

Each person is providing their own food. (While grammatically incorrect, it is now acceptable to use they, them, and their as singular to avoid indicating a gender. I personally prefer using singular they/them/their to avoid wordiness and to respect people who use those pronouns.)

A few people are providing their own food. (Few is plural, so it uses the plural pronoun their.)

That’s it for agreement. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments down below, and I will answer them either as a reply or in my Q&A on Saturday.

For practice, see if you can determine what verb or pronoun belongs in the blank in these sentences. You’re welcome to leave your responses in the comments, and I will check them.

1. Either of them ___ a good candidate for the position. (is/are)

2. None of the burned house ___ salvageable. (is/are)

3. None of them ___ going to the writing conference. (is/are)

4. Neither of them is bringing ___ friend to the conference. (his or her/their)

5. Several people are allowing ___ dogs to roam the park unattended. (his or her/their)

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