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Checking subject–verb agreement (SVA) assumes significance by the mere frequency with which the subject–verb pairs appear in writing and because of the various rules, exceptions, and special cases associated with this grammatical nuance.

Let’s begin by recalling that a clause is a group of words with a subject and a verb. Now, how can one define the subject of a clause? Can there be more than one subject in a clause? More than one verb? What can become the subject of a clause? What relationship does the verb have with the subject?

This chapter will address these and such similar questions. At the end of this chapter, you will be able to

  • Define and identify the subject of a clause.
  • Decide whether the given subject is singular, plural, or uncountable.
  • Check whether the subject and the verb agree in number and, if not, correct.

This lesson adopts a holistic approach. It starts with the definition of a subject and the nuances involved in understanding and identifying subjects. Instead of plunging into the rules governing SVA and discussing associated concepts as and when required, we first discuss the various grammar concepts that will help you understand SVA.

This way, when rules are presented, there is no need to digress to related information, and the focus is kept on rules, exceptions, and examples.

The rules are grouped into five major areas, which will help understand these rules in an easy and logical manner.

Examples and practice papers will help reinforce the concepts. The example sentences are mostly from everyday English. The greatest disadvantage of having sentences from everyday English is that when the concepts are expected to be applied in live editing, there may be a disconnect from what was seen during learning and what is seen during editing.

Therefore, examples provided in the discussions will be from everyday English. Practice papers will take this forward with sentences almost exclusively from published work of different disciplines. Assessments will have a majority of sentences from published work. This way, you will be able to connect the examples to your editing.

With this holistic approach, we hope that you have a great learning experience. Happy learning.

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