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subject-verb Agreement
1
Subject/Verb Agreement
• A verb must agree with its subject in number.
• A verb is conjugated differently depending on
its agreement to the subject.
• Usually “s” is for singular when it comes to
verbs. The verb ending in “s” is normally the
singular form of the verb.
2
Singular Subjects
• When the subject is singular, the verb must
be in its singular form in order to display
agreement.
• The coffee brews in the pot.
• The ocean roars in the distance.
• When she is focused, she plays the violin
well.
3
Plural Subjects
• A plural subject takes a plural verb.
Squirrels eat the seeding from the bird feeder.
They practice after school.
4
Verb Phrases
• When a sentence contains a verb phrase, the
first helping verb in the phrase must agree
with the subject.
Latrice has been studying Arabic.
They have been studying Arabic.
5
Problems in Agreement:
Phrases between subjects and verbs
• The number of a subject is not changed by
the phrase following a subject.
• You need to locate the actual subject of the
sentence before you can determine
subject/verb agreement.
• DO NOT use the object of the prepositional
phrase to consider your subject/verb
agreement. The phrase is a modifier and,
when taken out, should not disrupt the
subject/verb agreement of a sentence.
6
Phrases between
Subjects and Verbs
• The ballerina with the long black braids
has been my sister’s ballet teacher for
years.
• These shades of blue are my favorite
colors.
• Scientists from all over the world have
gathered in Geneva.
• The crystal pitcher, oozing water
droplets, was cracked along the base.
7
An exception to the rule…
• When the subject of the sentence is an
indefinite pronoun such as all, any,
more, most, none, or some, its number
may be determined by the object of the
prepositional phrase that follows.
8
An exception to the rule…
• Some of the pie has been eaten.
• Some of the students are confused
about subject-verb agreement.
9
Agreement
with Indefinite Pronouns
(See pPT on Indefinite pronouns)
10
subject-verb Agreement
with compound subjects
11
Subjects joined by and
• When one or more subjects are joined
by and, be sure to use the plural form
of the verb. The and indicates that
your subject is most probably plural.
12
Exclusive Conjunctions
Joining the Subject
• Conjunctions such as or, nor, either…or,
neither…nor, are exclusive.
• Both subjects are not responsible for
the action together; therefore, close
attention to the proper subject-verb
agreement is needed.
13
Exclusive Conjunctions
Joining the Subject
• When an exclusive conjunction joins the
subject of your sentence, you must look
at the subject closest to the verb to
form subject-verb agreement.
14
Exclusive Conjunctions
Joining the Subject
• The senator or he (addresses, address) the
crowd today.
• (Is, Are) Birmingham or Montgomery the
largest city in Alabama?
• Neither Paul nor Brandon (remember,
remembers) where he left the camera.
• Either Caroline or Sheri (sets, set) the table
for dinner every night.
• Neither the students nor their teacher
(leaves, leave) the lab before cleaning the
equipment.
15
Exclusive Conjunctions
Joining the Subject
• Either smoke or gases (causes, cause)
the smog.
• The cities or the state (responds,
respond) to pollution complaints.
16
agreement with
collective noun subjects
17
Collective Nouns
• Collective nouns follow special
agreement rules.
• A collective noun has a singular
meaning when it names a group that
acts as a unit.
• A collective noun has a plural meaning
when it refers to the members of the
group acting as individuals.
18
Collective Nouns
• The audience sits in silence. (a unit,
singular)
• The audience sit on their chairs and
pillows. (individuals, plural)
19
Collective Nouns
• The science club has decided to do its
science fair at St. Agatha on March 25,
in the Parish Hall. (singular)
• The faculty disagree about their after
school responsibilities. (plural)
20
Agreement with Inverted
Sentences
21
Agreement with Inverted
Sentences
• Making a verb agree with its subject is
easy when the verb directly follows the
subject.
• An inverted sentence is a sentence in
which the subject follows the verb.
22
Inverted Sentences
• Inverted sentences often begin with a
prepositional phrase.
• Don’t mistake the object of the
preposition for the subject of the
sentence.
23
Inverted Sentences
Across the ocean sail millions of
immigrants.
Here is a picture of my grandparents
There are many immigrants among my
ancestors.
24
Inverted Sentences
• Rewrite an inverted sentence to
determine the true subject.
Millions of immigrants sail across the
ocean.
A picture of my grandparents is here.
Many immigrants are there among my
ancestors.
25
Inverted Sentences
• Rewrite interrogative sentences as
declarative to check subject-verb
agreement.
Do these stories interest you?
These stories do interest you.
26
Other special agreement
issues
27
Special Nouns that end in s
• Certain nouns, such as news and
mathematics, end in s but require a
singular verb.
• Other nouns that end in s and name
only one thing, such as scissors and
binoculars, require plural verbs.
28
Special Nouns that End in s
Some singular nouns that end in s
include:
civics, physics, Los Angeles, United
Nations, mathematics, United States,
news
29
Special Nouns that end in s
Some nouns that always take the plural
form of the verb include:
binoculars, jeans, pants, pliers, scissors,
sunglasses, trousers, tweezers
30
Amounts and Units
• A subject that refers to an amount as a
single unit is singular.
• A subject that refers to a number of
individual units is plural.
31
Amounts and Units
• Ten years seems a long time. (single,
singular)
• Ten years pass quickly. (individual,
plural)
• Three dollars is the admission price.
(single, singular)
• Three dollars are on the table.
(individual, plural)
32
Titles of Creative Works
• The title of a book or a work of art is
always singular, even if the noun in the
title is plural.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a
good Disney movie.
The Last of the Mohicans was written
by James Fenimore Cooper.
33
Pronoun-Antecedent
Agreement
34
Pronouns and Antecedents
• A pronoun must agree with its
antecedent in both number and gender.
• An antecedent is the word(s) that a
pronoun replaces. An antecedent
comes before a pronoun. It lets the
reader know what the pronoun is
referring to.
35
Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement
• Use a singular pronoun to refer to two
or more singular antecedents joined by
or or nor. Be careful with gender.
• Example:
• Neither Natasha nor Hannah seems to be
able to stay in her seat.
• Either Brian or Cristina will be the Good
Apple for his or her class.
36
Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement
• Use plural pronouns to refer to two or
more antecedents joined by and.
• Rebecca and Karla both bought their shoes
at an outlet store.
37
Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement
• Use the appropriate pronoun (number)
to refer to indefinite pronouns that are
used as antecedents. Remember that
some indefinite pronouns are always
singular and some are always plural.
• Everyone who was invited has received his
or her invitation.
• Several of the club members have not paid
their dues
38
Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement
• Some indefinite pronouns can be both
singular or plural depending on how
they are used. Pay close attention to
the phrase that follows so that you use
the appropriate pronoun to replace
these indefinite pronouns.
• Have any of the spices lost their flavor?
• All of the casserole is still in its dish.
39
Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement
• A pronoun that refers to a collective noun has
the same number as the noun.
• So, if the collective noun is being used in the
singular form use a singular pronoun to refer
to it. If the collective noun is being used in
the plural form (meaning each member of the
group is engaging in an individual task) then
use a plural pronoun to refer to the collective
noun.
40
Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement
Example:
• The first group will give its
presentation on Monday. (singular)
• The group practiced delivering their
individual speeches. (plural)
41
Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement
• With expressions of amount, if the
expression is referring to the amount as
a single unit, use a singular pronoun.
• If the expression of amount is referring
to the amount as individual units, then
use a plural pronoun.
42
Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement
• Ten dollars was my allowance this
week. I earned it by doing all of my
chores. (singular)
• Two dollars were lying on the counter.
One of them was torn. (plural)
43
Pronoun Antecedent Agreement
• Even when plural in form, the title of a
work, the name of an organization, or
the name of a country or city usually
takes a singular pronoun.
44
Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement
• “The Fox and the Grapes” is a fable
by Aesop. It is one with a very
important moral lesson.
45