As a copy editor, one of the most important aspects of writing that I have come across is subject and verb agreement. It may seem like a minor detail, but it can have a significant impact on the clarity and coherence of the text. In this article, I will be outlining 23 rules for subject and verb agreement that every writer and editor should know.

1. A singular subject requires a singular verb. For example, “The cat is sleeping.”

2. A plural subject requires a plural verb. For example, “The cats are sleeping.”

3. When the subject consists of two or more nouns or pronouns connected by “and,” use a plural verb. For example, “John and Mary are going to the movies.”

4. When the subject consists of two or more singular nouns or pronouns connected by “or,” use a singular verb. For example, “Either John or Mary is going to the movies.”

5. When the subject consists of two or more plural nouns or pronouns connected by “or,” use a plural verb. For example, “Either the cats or the dogs are in the yard.”

6. When the subject consists of a singular noun or pronoun and a plural noun or pronoun connected by “or,” use the verb that agrees with the closest noun or pronoun to it. For example, “Either the cat or the dogs are in the yard.”

7. When the subject consists of words like “every,” “each,” “neither,” “either,” or “none,” use a singular verb. For example, “Every student knows the answer.”

8. When the subject is a collective noun such as “team,” “group,” or “committee,” use a singular verb if the emphasis is on the group as a whole and a plural verb if the emphasis is on the individuals within the group. For example, “The team is winning” versus “The team are arguing among themselves.”

9. When the subject is a singular noun that represents a group of people or things, use a singular or plural verb depending on whether the emphasis is on the group as a whole or the individuals within the group. For example, “The jury is deliberating” versus “The jury are arguing among themselves.”

10. When the subject is a noun that represents a quantity, use a singular verb for a singular quantity and a plural verb for a plural quantity. For example, “Five dollars is too much” versus “Five dollars are on the table.”

11. When the subject is a fraction, use a singular verb if the fraction is singular and a plural verb if the fraction is plural. For example, “One-third of the cake is missing” versus “Two-thirds of the cake are gone.”

12. When the subject is an indefinite pronoun like “everyone,” “someone,” or “anyone,” use a singular verb. For example, “Everyone wants to win.”

13. When the subject is a relative pronoun like “who,” “whom,” or “that,” the verb agrees with the antecedent of the pronoun. For example, “The boy who runs fast is my cousin” versus “The boys who run fast are my cousins.”

14. When the subject is an expression of time, use a singular verb. For example, “Ten o`clock is the meeting time.”

15. When the subject is an expression of distance, amount, or quantity, use a singular verb. For example, “Five miles is a long way to walk.”

16. When the subject is a plural noun that represents a single entity or concept, use a singular verb. For example, “The news is bad today.”

17. When the subject is a noun that is always plural, such as “scissors,” use a plural verb. For example, “The scissors need sharpening.”

18. When the subject is a title, use a singular verb. For example, “The Great Gatsby is a classic novel.”

19. When the subject is a gerund phrase, the verb agrees with the gerund. For example, “Swimming is good exercise.”

20. When the subject is an infinitive phrase, the verb agrees with the subject of the sentence. For example, “To win the game is our goal” versus “Our goal is to win the game.”

21. When the subject is a non-count noun, use a singular verb. For example, “Water is essential for life.”

22. When the subject is a plural noun with a singular meaning, use a singular verb. For example, “The police officer was on duty.”

23. When the subject is a compound subject joined by “and,” “or,” or “nor,” use a plural verb. For example, “John and Mary are going to the movies.”

Subject and verb agreement may seem like a small detail, but it can have a significant impact on the clarity and coherence of the text. By following these 23 rules, writers and editors can ensure that their sentences flow smoothly and are easy to read and understand.