Grammatical agreement with basic principles and examples
Agreement or concord
Agreement or concord ( abbreviated agr ) occurs when the word changes form depending on other words, to which it relates. This is an example of declension , and it usually involves matching the meaning of some grammatical category (eg gender or person ) “between different words or parts of a sentence. In this article we will elaborate the Grammatical agreement.
For example, in Standard English, you can say “I am” or “he is”, but not “I am” or “he is”. This is because the grammar of a language requires that the verb and its subject agree personally. The pronouns I and he mean the first and third person, respectively, as well as the forms of the verbs am and is. The form of the verb should be chosen so that it has the same person as the subject, as opposed to a conditional agreement that is based on meaning. For example, in American English, United Nations is considered singular for treaty purposes, although it is formally plural
The word concord is derived from the Latin agreement. When applied to English grammar , the term is defined as the grammatical agreement between two words in a sentence. Some linguists use the terms concord and concordance interchangeably, although traditionally, concord is used in reference to the proper relationship between adjectives and the nouns they modify, while concordance refers to the proper relationship between verbs and their subjects or objects.
Mixed concord, also known as discord, is the combination of a singular verb and a plural pronoun. This structure occurs when there is a substantial distance between a noun and its modifier and appears most often in informal or spoken language. Discord is motivated when the abstract preference for the meaning of a phrase to agree outweighs the desire for the noun phrase of the formal subject to agree.
Concord in English vs. other languages
Concord is relatively limited in modern English. Noun-pronoun concord requires agreement between a pronoun and its antecedent in terms of number, person, and gender. Subject-verb concord, as far as numbers are concerned , is conventionally marked with inflections at the end of a word.
In Romance languages like French and Spanish, the modifiers must match the nouns they modify in number . In English, however, only “this” and “that” change to “these” and “those” to signify an agreement. In English, nouns do not have an assigned gender. A book that belongs to a boy is “his book”, while one that belongs to a girl would be “his book”. The gender modifier is according to the person who owns the book, not the book itself.
In Romance languages, nouns are gender specific. The French word for book, livre , is masculine and therefore the pronoun that matches it, le, is also masculine. A feminine word, like window ( fenêtre ), would take the feminine pronoun la to agree. Plural nouns, on the other hand, become gender neutral and take the same pronoun as them. Grammatical agreement with basic principles
Basic principles of the agreement
“In English, the agreement is relatively limited. It occurs between the subject of a clause and a verb in the present tense, so that, for example, with a subject in the third person singular (for example, John ), the verb must have the suffix ending -s . That is, the verb agrees with its subject by having the appropriate ending. Therefore, John drinks a lot is grammatical, but John drinks a lot is not grammatical as a sentence on its own, because the verb does not match “. Grammatical agreement with basic principles
” Concordance also occurs in English between demonstratives and nouns. A demonstrative has to match in number with its noun. Therefore, with a plural noun such as books , you must use a plural these or those , giving these books or those books . With a singular noun, like book , uses a singular this or that , giving this book or that book . This book or that book would be grammatical because the demonstrative does not agree with the noun “.
–James R. Hurford, Grammar: A Student’s Guide . Cambridge University Press, 1994
Agreement in sentences
“The agreement is an important process in many languages, but in modern English is superfluous, a remnant of a richer system that flourished in Old English . If disappear completely, not lose, nor lose. -Est suffix en Thou sayest . But psychologically speaking, this flyer is not cheap. Any speaker committed to using it has to keep track of four details in every sentence spoken:
- if the subject is in the third person or not: walk versus I walk .
- if the subject is singular or plural: He walks versus They walk .
- whether the action is in the present tense or not: He walks versus He walked .
- whether the action is habitual or ongoing at the time of speaking (his ” look “): Walk to school versus Walk to school .
And all this work is necessary just to use the suffix once one has learned it. ”
–Steven Pinker, The Language Instinct . William Morrow, 1994
“Some nouns are commonly used with singular verbs albeit in the plural form: some nouns are commonly used in the plural, although they name something singular.”
- news, politics, economy, athletics, molasses
- Nouns that indicate a certain time, weight or amount of energy
- titles of books, newspapers, television programs, even in plural form
- His pants were old and torn.
- The foam is almost down the drain.
- Scissors are a great invention.
- The content was ruined.
–Patricia Osborn, How Grammar Works: A Self- Study Guide . John Wiley, 1989
How to use the agreement
- Many dogs are put forward by loud noises.
- An anxious dog is unable to concentrate and maintain attention.
- Dogs and cats are the most common pets.
- A dog and a cat are in our house.
- Usually the dog or cat is in my room.
- Abandoning a dog or cat is a tremendous irresponsibility.
The Basics of Subject-Verb Concord
In subject-verb concord, if the subject of the sentence is singular, the verb must also be singular. If the subject is plural, the verb must also be plural.
- The window is open.
- The windows are open.
Of course these are easy examples, but where people tend to get confused is when a phrase containing another noun is inserted between the subject and the modifying verb and that noun has a different numerical value (singular or plural) than the subject noun. In this example, the first sentence is incorrect:
- The boxes in the warehouse are ready to be loaded.
- The boxes in the warehouse are ready to be loaded.
While “warehouse” is singular, it is not the subject of the sentence. The second sentence is correct. The word “crates” is the subject of the sentence, so it must take the plural form of the vowel (in this case, “are”) to agree.
When two singular subjects are linked in a sentence by “or / or” or “neither / nor”, the correct use requires the singular verb. Grammatical agreement with basic principles
- Neither Mary nor Walter are available at this time.
What happens when one subject is singular and the other is plural? The agreement depends on the location of the subject in the sentence:
- Either the dog or the cats are in the basement.
- Either the twins or Mandy are waiting for you now.
Two subjects connected by “and” take a plural verb.
- Orville and Wilbur are by the fence.
- The rooster and chickens are missing.
There are two exceptions to these rules. The first is when a compound subject is connected with “and” but through popular usage it is considered a singular subject. While “bacon and eggs is my favorite breakfast” is not grammatically correct, “bacon and eggs” is considered a singular item on the average American breakfast menu. The second exception is when both subjects are the same entity: the author and illustrator of “Where the Wild Things Are” is Maurice Sendak.
Meanwhile, some plural subjects require singular verbs:
- Fifty dollars is too much to pay for that dress.
- Twenty seconds is all you get before I scream.
All of the following take singular verbs: each, all, all, anyone, anyone, someone, no one, someone, none, and no one.
- Every candle is lit.
- Everyone is having a good time.
- No one is going to care if you get to the party on time.
- Someone probably knows where the house is.
- None of us are to blame.
Examples in context
“The manager was one of those people who is stressed so permanently and completely that even his hair and clothes seem to be on the edge of his wits.”
– The life and times of the Thunderbolt Kid . Broadway Books, 2006
James Van Fleet
“I have read statistics that show only five out of 100 people who become financially successful. At the retirement age of 65, only one of these people is truly wealthy.”
– Hidden power . Prentice-Hall, 1987 Grammatical agreement with basic principles
Maxine Hong Kingston
“She brought in another woman, who was wearing a similar uniform except it was pink trimmed in white. This woman’s hair was in a bunch of curls at the back of her head; some of the curls were fake.”
– The warrior woman: Memories of a childhood among ghosts . Alfred A. Knopf, 1976
“Feminist activists must emphasize the forms of power that these women wield and show ways in which they can be used to their advantage.”
– Feminist theory: from the margin to the center , 2nd ed. Pluto Press, 2000