As a copy editor, one of the main challenges I encounter when editing written content is ensuring proper grammar and subject-verb agreement. While it may seem like a small detail, errors in these areas can significantly impact the clarity and effectiveness of the text, particularly in terms of search engine optimization (SEO).
Subject-verb agreement is the relationship between the subject of a sentence and the verb that describes the action or state of being. In simple terms, the verb must agree with the subject in number and person. For example, in the sentence “The cat jumps on the couch,” the subject (cat) is singular, so the verb (jumps) is also singular.
However, when dealing with more complex sentence structures, subject-verb agreement can become more complicated. For instance, in sentences where the subject is separated from the verb or when the subject is a collective noun, it can be challenging to determine the correct verb form.
To avoid grammar errors and subject-verb disagreements, it`s important to employ proper editing techniques. Here are some tips to help you improve your writing:
1. Identify the subject and verb in each sentence: Before beginning to edit, it`s crucial to be clear on the subject and verb in each sentence. Doing so can help you determine whether they agree in number and person.
2. Use plural verbs with collective nouns: Collective nouns are singular but refer to a group of individuals. Examples include “team,” “family,” and “committee.” When using collective nouns, always use plural verbs to agree with the individuals in the group. For example, “The team are practicing their moves” instead of “The team is practicing its moves.”
3. Watch out for indefinite pronouns: Indefinite pronouns, such as “everyone,” “someone,” and “nobody,” are singular and require a singular verb. For instance, “Everyone goes to the party” instead of “Everyone go to the party.”
4. Match verbs with the subject, not the object: When a sentence contains prepositional phrases, it`s easy to get confused about which noun is the subject. However, the subject is always the noun that comes before the verb. For example, “The dog, not the cats, chases the ball” instead of “The dog, not the cats, chase the ball.”
By ensuring proper grammar and subject-verb agreement, you can improve the readability and SEO potential of your writing. Taking the time to review and edit your work thoroughly can help convey your ideas more effectively and increase your chances of success in the digital world.