In the sphere of English Grammar, one of the crucial elements is the notion of 'Agreement'. This principle aligns the form of one word with another to maintain consistency in a sentence. Predominantly, agreement comes in two forms – Subject-Verb Agreement and Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement. Let's delve deeper into the topic.
The principle of Subject-Verb agreement involves making the verb agree with its subject, in terms of number. That is, a singular subject will take a singular verb, and a plural subject will take a plural verb.
Following are some basic rules of subject-verb agreement:
- The verb corresponds directly with the subject, not with a noun or pronoun in the phrase.
- Two singular subjects connected by "or," "neither/nor," "either/or" take a singular verb.
- When a compound subject contains both a singular and a plural noun or pronoun joined by "or" or "nor," the verb should agree with the part of the subject that is nearer the verb.
- If two singular nouns refer to the same person or thing, the verb must be singular.
- With words that indicate portions—percent, fraction, part, majority, some, all, none, remainder, and so forth —look at the noun in your of phrase to determine whether to use a singular or plural verb.
Example: One of the apples is rotten.
Example: Neither John nor Sarah is available.
Example: Either the teachers or the principal is at fault.
Example: The founder and CEO of the company is a young entrepreneur.
Example: All of the cake is gone. (cake is singular)
Example: All of the cakes are gone. (cakes is plural)
Another form of agreement, Pronoun-Antecedent agreement, refers to the correspondence of a pronoun with its antecedent in terms of number, gender, and person. The 'antecedent' is the word that the pronoun refers to.
Here are some fundamental rules of pronoun-antecedent agreement:
- A pronoun must agree with its antecedent in number.
- A pronoun must agree with its antecedent in person (first, second, or third).
- A pronoun must agree with its antecedent in gender (masculine, feminine, or neutral).
Example: Each student should bring his/her book. (When the antecedent is singular, use a singular pronoun)
Example: Many students did not bring their books. (When the antecedent is plural, use a plural pronoun)
Example: You said that you would bring your book. (The pronoun 'you' is second person, hence, 'your' is also in second person)
Example: John decided that he would bring his book. (John is a masculine antecedent, hence, 'he' and 'his' are also masculine)
When dealing with indefinite pronouns such as "everyone," "everybody," "anyone," "nobody" etc., always consider them singular. Hence, use singular verbs and singular masculine or feminine pronouns to refer to them. However, if the gender is not specified, it's acceptable to use 'they' in informal writing.
Example: Everyone has his or her own opinion.
Example: Nobody ever thinks they will get involved in an accident (informal).
Understanding the concept of agreement is key to mastering the grammar of the English language. Paying meticulous attention to whether a subject and verb or a pronoun and its antecedent agree in terms of number, gender, and person, will greatly improve your written and spoken English. Remember that maintaining concord in your sentences can elevate the quality of your communication and make it more pleasant to read and hear.