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We learn to speak by copying what we hear. We copy our parents. We copy our friends. We copy the people we grow up knowing. Sometimes these people use unusual words. Sometimes their spoken English is hard for others to understand. In certain parts of the country people speak in dialect. Dialect is the language of that particular place. It consists of special words. A dialect can also include using words in a special way. Sometimes, a dialect may include non-standard grammar. One commonly broken grammar rule is subject-verb agreement. Most of us have heard someone say, “She don’t know.” This is nonstandard grammar. “She doesn’t know” is standard.

We learn to speak by copying what we hear.

Our speech tends to be informal. This is especially true when we speak with our friends. Our writing, however, should be more formal. Our writing represents us when we are not there. In many cases, this is how others first get to know us. We want to make a good impression. For this reason, our writing should be as correct as we can make it. We need to make sure our writing is grammatically correct. We need to make sure our subjects and verbs agree. It is usually fairly obvious if a subject is plural or singular. • House refers to one thing. It does not end with an s. It is singular. • Houses refers to more than one thing. It ends with an s. It is plural.

house - singular

Unit 4: Writing—Using Strategies to Fine-Tune Writing

houses - plural

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Subject and Verb Agreement: Matching the Doer and the Action


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Verbs are also singular or plural. The verb must match the subject. Use a singular verb with a singular subject. Use a plural verb with a plural subject. This is known as subject-verb agreement—making the verb of the sentence match its subject in number. Correct agreement: My dogs need a bath. The subject dogs is plural. The verb need is plural. The subject and verb match. The verb matches the subject in number. Both are plural.

My dogs need a bath.

Incorrect agreement: My dogs needs a bath. The subject dogs is plural. The verb needs is singular. The subject and verb do not match. The subject is plural and the verb is singular. Tallahassee and Tampa is a compound subject. It refers to two cities. • It is plural. • It is joined by and. • It uses a plural verb. However, if a compound subject is joined by or or nor, the verb may be singular or plural. If both parts of the subject are singular, use a singular verb. Neither the computer nor the DVD player works well. If both parts of the subject are plural, use a plural verb. Neither the computers nor the DVD players work well. If one part is singular and one part is plural, make the verb match (agree) with the subject closer to that verb. Neither the computers nor the DVD player works well. Neither the computer nor the DVD players work well.

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The verbs be and have do not follow usual rules. You must change the forms of the verbs be and have in special ways to match in number with their subjects. Look at the chart below. The chart shows the present and past tense forms of be and have. Subject-Verb Agreement with the Verbs Be and Have Subject Singular subjects: I you he, she, it (or singular noun)

Form of be

Form of have

Present

Past

Present

Past

am are is

was were was

have have has

had had had

are are are

were were were

have have have

had had had

Plural subjects: we you they (or plural noun)

Test to Check Subject-Verb Agreement There is a test to help check subject-verb agreement. If the subject is singular, substitute it for the subject. If the subject is plural, substitute they for the subject. If the sentence sounds correct, the agreement is correct. Let’s look at the following. July 4th are our best known summer holiday. (It are our best known summer holiday—agreement is incorrect.) Chkedra have brought lunch for us all. (It have brought lunch for us all—agreement is incorrect.) Ashley has a new puppy. (It has a new puppy—agreement is correct.) My sisters have reservations for seven thirty. (They have reservations for seven thirty—agreement is correct.) Pizza and tacos are on the lunch menu. (They are on the lunch menu—agreement is correct.)

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The Verbs Be and Have


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Study the following charts. Rules for Subject-Verb Agreement 1.

2.

3.

Singular subject:

Melanie wants to be a singer.

Add -s or -es to the verb.

She sings beautifully.

Plural subject:

Melanie’s parents want her to be successful.

Do not add -s or -es to the verb.

They are hopeful she will do well.

I or you:

I like Melanie’s voice.

Use the plural form of the verb.

You have a lovely voice as well.

The

'S' Rule

Most verbs ending in an s are singular. Most subjects ending in an s are plural. Therefore, if your subject and verb both end in s or neither ends in s, you should check their agreement. Singular subject—no s

Singular verb—with s

1. The girl understands. 2. The girls understand. Plural subject—with s

Plural verb—no s

Use the it-they test in the sentences on the two charts above. Does each sentence still sound correct?

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Determine if the subject-verb agreement is correct. If the subject is singular, substitute it and read the sentence. If the subject is plural, substitute they. If the sentence sounds right, it is correct. If it does not sound correct, it is not. • Mark C if it is correct. • Mark I if it is incorrect. ______

1. My mittens are red and white.

______

2. They was a gift from my grandmother.

______

3. She knits me a special gift each year.

______

4. She and my grandfather have visited us each year for as long as I can remember.

______

5. Grandy plan to knit me a sweater this year.

______

6. She make me three hats to wear this winter.

______

7. I enjoy wearing clothes Grandy makes for me.

______

8. Grandy did not makes mittens for my cousin.

______

9. My cousin live in Miami so it is not cold enough to wear mittens.

______ 10. Grandy made my cousin a pair of shorts.

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Practice


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Singular or Plural Subject It can be difficult to tell if a subject is singular or plural. This makes it difficult to make the verb agree. Look at the following sentence: The children of my aunt are my cousins. Is the subject of the sentence the plural noun children? Or is the subject the singular noun aunt? The subject is the plural noun children. Aunt is part of the prepositional phrase of my aunt. A prepositional phrase is a group of words that begins with a preposition. It usually ends with a noun or pronoun called the object of the preposition. A preposition is a word that shows the relationship between a noun or pronoun and another word in the sentence. You will never find the subject of the sentence in a prepositional phrase. Avoid this confusion by eliminating the prepositional phrase. You can do this in the following way: • Find the preposition. A list of prepositions is given on the following page. • Put your finger on the preposition. Move your finger until you find a noun or pronoun. • From the preposition to the noun or pronoun is a prepositional phrase. • Your subject will never be in a prepositional phrase.

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The color of the girls’ shoes matches their dresses.

Let’s eliminate the prepositional phrase. We begin with the preposition of. We continue until we find a noun (or pronoun). The first noun we find is shoes. We eliminate the prepositional phrase of the girls’ shoes. The color (of the girls’ shoes) matches their dresses. Finding the subject is easy now. The subject is color. Color is singular. It agrees with the singular verb matches. Commonly Used Prepositions aboard

beyond

out

about

but (meaning except)

over

above

by

past

across

concerning

since

after

down

through

against

during

throughout

along

except

till

among

for

to

around

from

toward

at

in

under

before

inside

underneath

behind

into

until

below

like

up

beneath

near

upon

beside

of

with

besides

off

within

between

on

without

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Look at the following sentences.


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Practice Choose the correct verb. Before you do this: • First—find and strike through the prepositional phrase. • Second—find and underline the subject. • Finally—find and circle the correct verb.

1. The flowers from her garden (is, are) chrysanthemums. 2. The story about the three little pigs (is, are) my little brother’s favorite. 3. The shelf above my bed (hold, holds) my books. 4. The ladies across the table from me (was, were) whispering loudly. 5. The folders beside you (contain, contains) the information you asked for. 6. The students from Miami (is, are) wearing University of Miami sweatshirts. 7. The directions to Mary’s house (is, are) easy to understand. 8. The note under my plate (was, were) from David. 9. The days since my birthday (has, have) passed quickly. 10. The open fields beyond the school yard (is, are) off limits to the students.

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Check your own subject-verb agreement. Carefully read the second revision of your descriptive paragraph you completed on pages 247-248 and then checked again on page 292. Use the following checklist. 1. Read each sentence aloud. 2. Circle any subject-verb agreement problems you find. 3. Highlight any sentences you feel unsure of. 4. Check with your teacher for help. Your teacher will help you to determine if the agreement is correct. 5. Revise any incorrect subject-verb errors. 6. On your own paper, complete a third revision of your descriptive paragraph.

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Pronouns Pronouns are words that take the place of nouns. The most common are personal pronouns. Personal pronouns are the only words in English that have different forms called cases. This means there are different forms of each pronoun. How the pronoun is used in a sentence determines which form you use. Look at the following sentence. I see my brother across the street. Here, the pronoun I is the subject of the verb see. I is the subject form or case. Look at this sentence. Mother saw me across the street. Here, the pronoun me is the object of the verb saw. Me is the object form or case. Look at this sentence. The boy took my backpack on his camping trip. My shows to whom the backpack belongs. It shows ownership or possession. My is in the possessive case. The chart below shows the different cases of personal pronouns. Personal Pronouns Subject Case Pronouns Singular

302

Object Case Pronouns

Plural

Singular

Plural

Possessive Case Pronouns Singular

Plural

First Person

I

we

me

us

my, mine

our, ours

Second Person

you

you

you

you

your, yours

your, yours

Third Person

he, she, it

they

him, her, it

them

his, hers, its

their, theirs

Unit 4: Writing—Using Strategies to Fine-Tune Writing


Without pronouns: Nikki said that Nikki would bring cookies for Nikki’s class. This sentence sounds awkward. The name is repeated too often. With pronouns: Nikki said that she would bring cookies for her class. This sentence sounds better. The pronouns she and her make it easier to read. They also make it easier to understand.

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Using pronouns makes our writing sound better. Look at the following two sentences.


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Practice Substitute the correct pronoun for each underlined word. Use the chart on page 302 to help you. 1. When Alana saw Alana’s ( Alana (

) new puppy,

) cried with joy.

2. Barbie asked Barbie’s ( Barbie (

) mother to make

) some breakfast.

3. Emily asked Emily’s ( Emily (

) brother to drive

) to the mall.

4. When Keisa saw Keisa ’s ( package, Keisa ( (

) name on the ) knew it was Keisa ’s

).

5. When Meghan was asked who brought napkins, Meghan (

) replied, “Meghan (

6. When Luis bought Luis ( Luis (

) new computer,

) was very happy.

7. Latasha asked Latasha’s ( Latasha (

) did.”

) father to help

) with Latasha’s (

) homework.

8. Tonya and Sheenika found Tonya and Sheenika’s ( lunch under Tonya and Sheenika’s ( and Sheenika’s (

304

)

) books in Tonya

) locker.

Unit 4: Writing—Using Strategies to Fine-Tune Writing

Subject-Verb-Agreement-Handout-and-Exercises  

http://library.drmasonsclasses.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Subject-Verb-Agreement-Handout-and-Exercises.pdf

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