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As a copy editor, one of the most important skills you can have is a firm grasp on subject-verb antecedent agreement in writing. The agreement of subjects and verbs is vital for creating clear, concise, and grammatically correct writing that is easily understood by a wide range of readers.

Simply put, subject-verb antecedent agreement refers to the matching of subjects and verbs in a sentence. A subject is the person, place, or thing that the sentence is about, while the verb is the action or state of being performed by the subject.

For example, in the sentence “The dog runs in the park,” “dog” is the subject, and “runs” is the verb. It is important that the subject and verb agree in number and person in order for the sentence to be grammatically correct.

A singular subject requires a singular verb, while a plural subject requires a plural verb. This can sometimes be confusing, particularly when dealing with complex sentences or pronouns.

For example, in the sentence “The team of players is practicing every day,” the subject is “team,” which is singular, even though it refers to a group of people. Therefore, the correct verb to use is “is,” which is also singular.

Similarly, when dealing with pronouns, it is important to ensure that the pronoun agrees with its antecedent, or the noun it is replacing. For example, in the sentence “My sister and I are going to the park, but she wants to go shopping instead,” the pronoun “she” refers to the antecedent “sister,” which is singular. Therefore, the correct verb to use is “wants,” which is also singular.

It is also important to note that subject-verb antecedent agreement is not always straightforward. For example, when dealing with collective nouns, such as “team” or “group,” it can be tricky to determine whether the verb should be singular or plural. In these cases, it is important to consider the context of the sentence and determine whether the collective noun is acting as a single entity or a group of individuals.

In addition to ensuring proper subject-verb antecedent agreement, it is also important to consider the style and tone of the writing. Depending on the audience and purpose of the writing, it may be appropriate to break traditional grammar rules in order to achieve a specific effect.

Overall, subject-verb antecedent agreement is a fundamental aspect of clear and effective writing. By understanding the basic rules and practicing careful attention to detail, copy editors can help ensure that their writing is always grammatically correct and easily understood by a wide range of readers.