Verbal Person Agreement

Verbal Person Agreement: What It Is and Why It Matters

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering why some sentences just don’t sound quite right, you might be experiencing an issue with verbal person agreement. This concept may seem confusing at first, but it’s actually a simple rule that can greatly improve the clarity and professionalism of your writing.

So, what exactly is verbal person agreement? In basic terms, it refers to matching the tense of your verb to the subject of your sentence. In other words, if your subject is singular, your verb should be singular too. If your subject is plural, your verb should be plural.

Consider the following examples:

Incorrect: The dog and the cat eats their food.

Correct: The dog and the cat eat their food.

Incorrect: Amanda or her brothers is going to the party.

Correct: Amanda or her brothers are going to the party.

By ensuring that your verb agrees with your subject, you make your writing more concise and less confusing for your reader. This is especially important when it comes to professional writing, such as business emails or academic papers.

However, verbal person agreement can become more complicated when dealing with certain pronouns. For example, the pronoun “they” is considered plural, but is often used as a singular pronoun for non-binary individuals. In this case, it’s important to use a singular verb even though the subject appears to be plural.

Incorrect: They is going to the store.

Correct: They are going to the store.

Another common mistake is when a subject and verb are separated by a phrase or clause. In these cases, it’s important to still match the verb to the subject, even if there are intervening words.

Incorrect: The book, along with its sequels, were popular.

Correct: The book, along with its sequels, was popular.

By paying attention to verbal person agreement in your writing, you can greatly improve the clarity and professionalism of your message. It may take some extra effort, but it’s worth it to ensure that your writing is clear and effective.


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