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Topic 9: Writing in Plain English, Part 2

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Subject/Verb Agreement Tips

 

When the subject of a sentence… Use… Example
Consists of 2 or more nouns or pronouns connected by “and” Plural verb She and her colleagues are at the session.
Consists of 2 or more singular nouns or pronouns connected by “or” or “nor” Singular verb The manual or the guide is on the shelf.
Consists of both a singular and a plural noun or pronoun joined by “or” or “nor” Form of verb that agrees with whichever noun is closest to the verb The delegate or her assistants return phone calls every morning.
Is followed by a phrase that contains another noun Form of verb that agrees with the noun that is the subject The man with all the maps walks to the library.
Is one of the following words: “each,” “each one,” “either,” “neither,” “everyone,” “everybody,” “anybody,” “anyone,” “nobody,” “somebody,” “someone,” or “ no one” Singular verb Each of the delegates has a security clearance.
Is a collective noun that you can’t count—such as “politics,” “data,” and “ethics” —or that implies a group Singular verb The data is convincing.

The committee specifies appropriate conduct in each situation.