Yes, I know this is normally written subject-verb agreement, but I needed a V-word in my A to Z theme of writing conventions. Please don't hold this stretch against me.
Subjects and verbs in sentences should always agree in number. In other words, singular subjects should have singular verbs and plural subjects should have plural verbs. Keep in mind that most nouns are made plural by adding -s to the end. Most verbs with an -s on the end are singular. Subject-verb agreement rules to remember:
1) The pronouns anyone, someone, everyone, no one, anybody are SINGULAR pronouns and must be accompanied by a SINGULAR verb.
For example: Everyone sees the hypocrisy of attending church to meet customers and make more sales. No one denies that such things are done. Someday, someone is going to address the practice from the pulpit. Most anyone agrees, however, that at least the hypocrites are at church.
2) Each is always SINGULAR and requires a SINGULAR verb.
For example: Each of the real estate agents expresses guilt when confronted by the deacons. Each regrets dropping his business card into the offering plate. Each of the agents is embarrassed. (Each is the subject of the first and third sentences, not agents. Agents is part of the prepositional phrase that begins with the word to. A sentence's subject and verb are NEVER part of a prepositional phrase.)
3) Careful! Either and neither are SINGULAR subjects and require a SINGULAR verb.
For example: Neither dress is appropriate for the wedding.Either is designed to upstage the bride.
4) When and joins two subjects, a PLURAL verb follows.
For example: The fuchsia dress and the white dress are not acceptable choices.
5) When or or nor is used, the subject closest to the verb determines whether or not it will be PLURAL or SINGULAR.
For example: The cornflower blue dress or the skirts are appropriate for the occasion. Black pantsuits nor the off-white ensemble is too business-like for a Saturday afternoon affair.
6) Don't accompanies a PLURAL subject. Doesn't accompanies a SINGULAR subject.
For example: They don't know how to fish with a cane pole. Louise doesn't care to teach them. She doesn't like to bait her own hook, but they don't offer to help her. No one has fun on those fishing trips.
In English, subject-verb agreement can get very tricky. We have lots of nouns that end in -s, but are singular, such as news, mathematics and measles. We have many collective nouns that we know to be more than one person or thing, but that are treated as if they are singular, such as team, family, fleet, and crew. Proceed with caution.
Tomorrow: Who v. Whom
This post is brought to you by the April A to Z Blog Challenge. Check back all through April for daily discussions of writing conventions.