Subject-Verb Agreement and Misplaced Modifiers - Student ...

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Subject-Verb Agreement and Misplaced Modifiers - Student ...

Grammar Presentation:Subject-Verb Agreementand Misplaced ModifiersGradWRITE! InitiativeWriting Support CentreStudent Development ServicesHaving your subject and verb agree, and using modifiers appropriately is important when writing in an academic setting.1


Subject-Verb AgreementVerbs must always agree in number with their subjectsUsually, this is quite clearExample:This study shows...Subjects can complicate thingsMost people are quite comfortable with making their verbs agree with their subjects, but problems arise with some of the more complicated subjects.2


Compound SubjectsSingular subjects:Pluralize the verbExample:The first book and the second article show that...When a subject is compound you should pluralize the verb, even if both parts of the subject are singular (as in this example).3


Compound SubjectsSingular subjects connected by ‘or’ and ‘nor’SingularizeExample:Potassium or chlorine speeds up the reaction...When compound subjects are connected by ‘or’ or ‘nor,’ the verb is modifying each subject separately. That’s why you use the singular form of the verb in these cases.4


Compound SubjectsSingular and plural nouns with or and nor:Agree with the closest nounExample:Epstein’s many articles or his research programshows...Epstein’s research program or his many articlesshow...If you have a compound subject with ‘or’ or ‘nor’ that is mixed, that is, one of the subjects is singular and the other is plural, the verb should agree with the closest noun.5


Misleading PhrasesVerbs agree with their subject‘Along with’, ‘as well as’ and other linking wordsdo not change the subjectExample:The captain, as well as his officers, was introuble.The article that summarizes many studies dragson too long.6


Grouping WordsSingularize each, each one, everybody, everyone,anybody, nobody, somebody, someone, either, neitherExample:Either of the examples exemplifies the point.All of these grouping words should be treated as a unit. Even though they are indicating several objects, their verbs should be singular.7


Collective NounsCollective nouns are usually treated as singularExample:The National Academy of Authors comments on thefindings...Collective nouns, like the one seen in this example, are usually treated assingular.8


Misplaced ModifiersModifiers (adjectives, adverbs, phrases etc.) give detailsabout other wordsSingle word modifiers should be placed near the wordsthey modify to ensure correct interpretationAn issue of clarityModifiers can be adjectives, adverbs, phrases or other parts of speech that give information about other words. Single word modifiers should be placed near the words they modify.9


ExamplesIt almost used all of the reactant.It used almost all of the reactant.In the first example, the placement of the word ‘almost’ indicates that the reactant was almost used. The second example, likely gives a better indication of the author’s intentions. In this case,‘almost’ indicates the quantity of the reactant that was used.10


Split InfinitivesSplitting infinitives (e.g. To boldly go...) is considered agrammar error by someSplitting infinitives with long modifiers is considered anerror by allSplitting infinitives is can range from a minor distraction to a majorerror.11


ExamplesThe procedure allowed us to, without actually enteringthe body cavity, explore the adrenal gland.The procedure allowed us to explore the adrenal glandwithout actually entering the body cavity.In the first example, the non-restrictive element (without actually…) gets in the way of telling us what actually occurred. The second example flows much better.12

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