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Agreement, Shifts, & Predication
The subject and verb must agree in number: both must be singular, or both must be plural . • Problems occur in the present tense because one must add an -s or -es at the end of the verb when the subjects or the entity performing the action is a singular third person: he, she, it, or words for which these pronouns could substitute. • Notice the difference between singular and plural forms in the following examples: • Singular • Plural • The student sings. (He or she sings)Your children sing. (They sing)The bird does migrate. (It does) Those birds do migrate. (They do)
You will not find the subject in a modifying phrase (MP), a phrase that starts with a preposition, or a relative pronoun [and that modifies the meaning of the noun or subject under discussion]. • • • The group of students is going on a field trip. Subject: the group MP: of students Verb: is The survey covering seven colleges reveals a growth in enrollment. Subject: the survey MP: covering seven colleges Verb: reveals The speaker whom you saw at the lecture is one of the state senators from Minnesota. • Subject: the speaker • MP: whom you saw at the lecture • Verb: is
plural • If subjects are joined by and, they are considered plural. • The quarterback and the coach are having a conference. • Subject: the quarterback and the coach • Verb: are having
If subjects are joined by or or nor, the verb should agree with the closer subject. • • • Either the actors or the director is at fault. Subjects: actors, director Verb: is Either the director or the actors are at fault. Subjects: director, actors Verb: are
Indefinite pronouns (someone, somebody, each, either one, everyone, or anyone) are considered singular and need singular verbs although they convey plural meaning. • Anyone who wants to pursue higher education has to pass entrance exams. • Subject: anyone • Verbs: wants, has • Everyone on the committee is welcome to express his/her ideas. • Subject: everyone • Verb: is
A few nouns can be either plural or singular, depending on whether they mean a group or separate individuals. These words are rarely used as plurals in modern writing. • • • The jury is sequestered. Subject: jury Verb: is The jury are having an argument. Subject: jury Verb: are having
HOMEWORK • • • STUDY About “COLLECTIVE NOUNS” and Agreement!
More at • http: //leo. stcloudstate. edu/grammar/subverag. html
Using Pronouns Clearly • • • Using Pronouns Clearly Because a pronoun REFERS BACK to a noun or TAKES THE PLACE OF that noun, you have to use the correct pronoun so that your reader clearly understands which noun your pronoun is referring to. Therefore, pronouns should: 1. AGREE in NUMBER If the pronoun takes the place of a singular noun, you have to use a singular pronoun. If a student parks a car on campus, he or she has to buy a parking sticker. (NOT: If a student parks a car on campus, they have to buy a parking sticker. ) REMEMBER: The words EVERYBODY, ANYONE, EACH, NEITHER, NOBODY, SOMEONE, A PERSON, etc. are singular and take singular pronouns. Everybody ought to do his or her best. (NOT: their best) Neither of the girls brought her umbrella. (NOT: their umbrellas) NOTE: Many people find the construction "his or her" wordy, so if it is possible to use a plural noun as your antecedent so that you can use "they" as your pronoun, it may be wise to do so. If you do use a singular noun and the context makes the gender clear, then it is permissible to use just "his" or "her" rather than "his or her. " See our handout on Non-sexist Language for more information.
Using pronouns clearly continued • • • 2. AGREE in PERSON If you are writing in the "first person" ( I), don't confuse your reader by switching to the "second person" ( you) or "third person" (he, she, they, it, etc. ). Similarly, if you are using the "second person, " don't switch to "first" or "third. " When a person comes to class, he or she should have his or her homework ready. (NOT: When a person comes to class, you should have your homework ready. ) 3. REFER CLEARLY to a specific noun. Don't be vague or ambiguous. NOT: Although the motorcycle hit the tree, it was not damaged. (Is "it" the motorcycle or the tree? ) NOT: I don't think they should show violence on TV. (Who are "they"? ) NOT: Vacation is coming soon, which is nice. (What is nice, the vacation or the fact that it is coming soon? ) NOT: George worked in a national forest last summer. This may be his life's work. (What word does "this" refer to? ) NOT: If you put this sheet in your notebook, you can refer to it. (What does "it" refer to, the sheet or your notebook? )
http: //www. chomp. com/terms/collectivenoun. htm The Collective Noun • • • Recognize a collective noun when you see one. Nouns name people, places, and things. Collective nouns, a special class, name groups [things] composed of members [usually people]. Check out the chart below: army audience board cabinet class committee company corporationcouncil department faculty family firm group jury majorityminority navy public school senate society team troupe
http: //www. chomp. com/terms/collectivenoun. htm Use correct verbs and pronouns with collective nouns. • COLLECTIVE NOUNS are nouns designating a class or group of individual persons or things, all of them members of that class or group (such as class, flock, group, herd, team, committee, bunch, and cluster). • These nouns are distinctive as subjects because they can take either singular or plural verbs and subsequent pronouns: • The committee votes on its procedures tomorrow or The committee vote on their procedures tomorrow. • These collectives are interesting too in that they can also be inflected for the plural to designate more than one such group of similar individuals or things; then they always take plural verbs.
Consistency of Tense and Pronoun Reference • Verb Tense Consistency • Study • At • http: //grammar. ccc. commnet. edu/grammar/consistency. htm
• TO STUDY • Error #10 • At • http: //bcs. bedfordstmartins. com/everyday_writer 3 e/20 errors/10. html • And • Please review the • MOST COMMON ERRORS at • http: //bcs. bedfordstmartins. com/everyday_writer 3 e/20 errors/2. html
Predication • A subject (hupokeimenon) • is what a statement is about. • A predicate (katêgoroumenon) • is what a statement says about its subject.
Predication • Faulty predication occurs when a sentence’s subject and predicate do not make sense together, and this problem can certainly create headaches and confusion for readers. In other words, the sentence’s subject cannot carry out the activity that the sentence’s verb describes, or the subject can’t be described by the verb. Here’s an example of faulty predication: • The purpose of the book persuades readers to get involved in community service.
The purpose of the book persuades readers to get involved in community service. • In the sentence above, the subject is “purpose. ” However, the purpose itself cannot “persuade, ” as the verb in this sentence states. In other words, a purpose is not capable of the perceptive act of persuading. This faulty predication can be easily revised so that the subject and verb are relevant to each other:
revision • The author of the book persuades readers to get involved in community service. • In the revised sentence, the subject is “author, ” and the verb is “persuades. ” An author can certainly attempt to persuade his or her readers.
Here’s another demonstration of faulty predication: • The organization believes that more grant proposals must be written as soon as possible.
The organization believes that more grant proposals must be written as soon as possible. • This sentence indicates that the organization believes, but an organization cannot do such a thing—only people can believe. A revised version of this sentence may look similar to this one: • The organization’s board members believe that more grant proposals must be written as soon as possible.
The revised sentence shows that the board members, who are indeed people, believe. Also among faulty predication errors are those involving the use of is where and is when. Here are some examples of these phrases used incorrectly: A vacation is where people get away from school and/or work to relax.
faulty use of “is where” • A vacation is where people get away from school and/or work to relax. • • A simile is when a comparison includes the words “like” or “as. ” • The first example contains a faulty use of is where. Vacation is not technically a specific place. The second example illustrates incorrect use of is when. A simile is not a time. Like other types of faulty predication, these errors can be corrected painlessly: • • A vacation is a break people take to get away from school and/or work.
simile • A simile is a comparison that includes the words “like” or “as. ” • Another member of the bothersome faulty predication family is the erroneous use of the reason is because. Take a look at the following case in point: • The reason the team lost the game is because they were missing their key players.
because • • • • The reason the team lost the game is because they were missing their key players. The sentence above demonstrates the redundancy of the use of the reason is because. The reason and is because essentially mean the same thing—both phrases describe the cause. The reason is because is also incorrect because the subject “reason” is a noun, and the verb “is” requires another noun or an adjective in order to complete the predicate (the part of the sentence that discusses the subject). Basically, “reason” needs a subject complement. Here’s where the additional noun or the adjective can come into play. The reason is _______. (Insert a noun or adjective here. ) The reason is a lack of talented players. (“Lack of talented players” is a noun phrase). The reason is obvious. (“Obvious” is an adjective. ) “Because” is a subordinating conjunction, not a noun or an adjective; therefore, it cannot be the subject complement that “is” requires. Fortunately, this problem, like the preceding ones, can be fixed quite easily:
Fortunately, this problem, like the preceding ones, can be fixed quite easily: • The reason the team lost the game is that they were missing their key players. • Or • The team lost the game because they were missing their key players. • As seen in the sentences above, there is more than one way to eliminate the unnecessary repetition found in the reason is because. Note that most other types of faulty predication can also be remedied in more than one way—there is no one correct solution for these issues. • • You can test your understanding of this handout by completing Academic Center exercises available here.
Sentence Patterns & Predication • Subject+ Verb (transitive)+ Direct Object (noun) • Subject+ Linking Verb (intransitive)+ Complement (adjective or noun) • • INCORRECT The reason is because … • • CORRECT: The reason is that …
See your text • • • For elaboration on AGREEMENT SHIFTS in REFERENCE & NUMBER And FAULTY PREDICATION
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