In the world of grammar and language, agreement is key. It ensures that the subject and verb in a sentence are in harmony with each other, providing clarity and making the writing more effective. However, there are certain cases where agreement can get complicated, leading to what is known as “agreement wars”.
Agreement wars are battles over proper subject-verb agreement, particularly when dealing with singular and plural subjects. This can happen when there are multiple subjects in a sentence, each with its own verb, or when there is a tricky agreement with indefinite pronouns.
For example, consider the sentence “The team, along with their coach, were/ was celebrating their victory”. While the subject of the sentence is technically singular (team), the addition of the plural “their coach” can cause confusion. Some may argue that the sentence should use “were” to agree with the plural coach, while others would say “was” should be used to agree with the singular team.
Similarly, indefinite pronouns such as “everyone”, “anyone”, and “someone” can lead to disagreement since they are singular but can refer to multiple people. For instance, the sentence “Everyone brought their own lunch” may raise eyebrows for some since “everyone” is singular and “their” is plural.
So, how do we avoid these agreement wars? First and foremost, it’s important to identify the subject(s) and determine whether they are singular or plural. In the case of multiple subjects, ensure that each verb agrees with its respective subject. As for indefinite pronouns, try to rephrase the sentence to avoid ambiguity or use gender-neutral pronouns like “they/them”.
It’s also important to note that sometimes, agreement rules may vary depending on the dialect or style guide being used. For example, British English tends to treat collective nouns (like team) as plural, while American English commonly treats them as singular.
In the end, while agreement wars may seem like a trivial matter, they can greatly impact the clarity and effectiveness of writing. By understanding the rules and potential challenges of subject-verb agreement, we can avoid these battles and create more harmonious sentences.