Archive for the ‘Subject/Verb Agreement’ Category

Medical Ads Mess Up Agreement

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Two medical advertisements caught my eye this week because they did not use proper subject/verb agreement.  Take a look at the first one at right.

YOU is one person.  SOMEONE is also considered singular.  They are connected by OR.  Therefore, the verb should be IS. The caption should read this way:

If you or someone you know is having the following problems:

Here is the second ad statement:

The subject verb combination must be either SUFFERERS SAY (plural) or SUFFERER SAYS (singular). In this case, the rest of the statement refers to HER and HER FOOT AND LEG PAIN, so we need the singular version. This ad statement should read as follows:

"Former Peripheral Neuropathy Sufferer Says FREE REPORT Showed Her How to End Her Foot and Leg Pain Naturally and Quickly."


Lay what on the couch? PLUS, an agreement error.

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Birmingham News reporter Kent Faulk wrote an interesting article recently about men scheduling vasectomies this Friday.  They must take it easy for a few days after the procedure, so watching the Masters at Augusta this weekend is the perfect way to do so.

Unfortunately, Faulk forgot the difference between LIE and LAY when he wrote the article.  Here are two sentences from the same paragraph:

After the procedure Dr. DeGuenther said he asks the man to go home and lay flat on his back the rest of the day and only get up to go to the bathroom or dinner table.

That first night is the only time they are confined to laying on the couch or the bed, but they still must only have light activity for the next two days after the first day.

Whoops! The word LAY (LAY, LAID, LAID) is used to describe the action of putting or placing something, as in LAYING an egg or LAYING sod for a new lawn. LAY takes an object. The word LIE (LIE, LAY, LAIN)  is used to describe the act of reclining. It does not take an object.  I would also move the word ONLY so that it describes the LIGHT ACTIVITY rather than coming between MUST and HAVE. These two sentences should read as follows:

After the procedure Dr. DeGuenther said he asks the man to go home and lie flat on his back the rest of the day and only get up to go to the bathroom or dinner table.

That first night is the only time they are confined to lying on the couch or the bed, but they still must have only light activity for the next two days after the first day.

Later in the same article, Faulk used this sentence:

Smith, who works for an insurance company that sell annuities to stock brokers, said he and his wife recently had their third child.

Whoops again! The verb SELL (plural) should agree with COMPANY (singular). The sentence should read this way:

Smith, who works for an insurance company that sells annuities to stock brokers, said he and his wife recently had their third child.

 

 :)A NOTE OF WELCOME to those attending my "Essentials of Business Writing" workshops in Montgomery this week. You have asked great questions and offered many good examples of business writing issues. I hope you will visit Grammar Glitch Central often and continue to share your comments and questions.


IN A MANNER THAT ALLOW–Subject/verb agreement again!

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

The Jefferson County, Alabama, tale of financial woe continues, and the grammar in one auditor's letter needs an overhaul as well.  Take a look at this quoted portion of a sentence regarding the need for improvement in the county's financial controls:

"people, processes or systems were not operating in a manner that allow the Commission to prepare financial statements in accordance with U. S. generally accepted accounting principles."

Whoops! The subject of ALLOW is not PEOPLE, PROCESSES OR SYSTEMS (plural), it is MANNER (singular). Therefore, the verb should be ALLOW (singular) except that the first part of the quotation uses WERE, which is past tense, so the verb probably should be changed to WOULD ALLOW.

The auditor does not use ellipsis correctly either. His quote does not begin at the beginning of a sentence. (This is clear because the quotation begins with a lower case letter.) Therefore, he should have placed an ellipsis (three dots) at the beginning of the quotation.

Finally, I think this quotation would read more smoothly if the words GENERALLY ACCEPTED came before U.S.

Here is my suggested revision for this sentence:

"…people, processes or systems were not operating in a manner that would allow the Commission to prepare financial statements in accordance with generally accepted U. S. accounting principles."

 

NOTE: Would you like to learn more about effective proofreading techniques like the ones described above? Check the calendar at www.ruthbeaumontcook.com and sign up for my open enrollment class on Grammar and Proofreading.  Auburn University Montgomery is offering it on April 27.


The S cannot go on BOTH the subject and the verb. Agreement again!

Monday, February 13th, 2012

This was the lead sentence for a recent front page article in One Voice, the newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama:

Divisions among  Christians, including on moral issues, weakens their credibility and their ability to respond to the spiritual yearning of many men and women today, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Whoops! Although I think this sentence expresses a good point about today's "gridlock thinking," the grammar is not correct. DIVISIONS (with an S) is plural.  (The basic thought is DIVISIONS AMONG CHRISTIANS WEAKEN THEIR CREDIBILITY….) Therefore, DIVISIONS should take a plural verb, which would be WEAKEN (without an S). The sentence should read this way:

 

Divisions among   Christians  , including on moral issues, weaken their credibility and their ability to respond to the spiritual yearning of many men and women today, Pope Benedict XVI said.

 

 Apparently the headline creator for this newspaper has a better grasp of grammar because the headline uses the correct subject/verb agreement.  It reads this way:

Christian Divisions, Including on Morality, Weaken Witness, Pope Says

 

PLEASE NOTE: My thanks to Ilene (See her comment below.) who spotted my error in this post.  I have made the appropriate correction above.

 


Sixty percent of the water COME or COMES in?

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

 

I have not done a blog post on subject/verb agreement in a while. That was a good thing, but a recent article about Jefferson County's "inherited sewer pipe" problems contained a sentence that brought the agreement issue back to the front page of The Birmingham News. Here is the sentence that caught my eye:

John S. Young, the court-appointed receiver, testified during a bankruptcy hearing last month, that 60 percent of the water flowing through county sewer pipes to the treatment plants come in through broken joints, leaky manhole covers and other flaws.

Whoops! The subject for the verb COME is "60 PERCENT OF THE WATER." This is what I call a "lump sum" subject.  We write that 60 percent of the bottles (countable) on the shelf have (plural) gold labels, but we write that 60 percent of the water (not countable) in the lake comes (singular) from Patton Creek.

We don't think of WATER as something that can be counted and made plural. We would not say WATER COME THROUGH BROKEN JOINTS.  Therefore, the verb should be COMES.

I agree with the commas before and after THE COURT-APPOINTED RECEIVER because they set off something that renames JOHN S. YOUNG. However, I would not put a comma between MONTH and THAT. A that clause should not be set off from the rest of the sentence.

I would edit the sentence to read this way:

John S. Young, the court-appointed receiver, testified during a bankruptcy hearing last month that 60 percent of the water flowing through county sewer pipes to the treatment plants comes in through broken joints, leaky manhole covers and other flaws.

Let's hope Jefferson County, Alabama, will find the means to solve its longstanding sewer nightmare in the New Year of 2012.

I hope those of my readers who are Christians had a very Merry Christmas, and I hope the holiday season has been enjoyable for everyone. I did not intend to take such a long break from Grammar Glitch Central, but an unexpected and nasty case of strep throat kept me from keeping up as I would have liked. Now, hopefully, things are back to normal!


Poor headline hisses like a snake!

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Here is a headline that appeared not long ago in The Washington Post:

 

 

Whoops! It is not "legal" to put an S on a plural subject and then put another S on a singular verb.  One or the other will do.  In this headline, PANELISTS (plural) is the subject.  Therefore, the verb should be OK (plural), not OKs (singular). The headline should read this way:

GOP panelists OK subpoenas in Solyndra case


Inserted phrase should not affect subject/verb relationship.

Friday, November 18th, 2011

It is good news that Honda has just announced an expansion of capacity at its Alabama auto plant.  The plant, located in Lincoln (near the Talladega Superspeedway), is set to become the highest-volume automaker in the state, building more than 300,000 cars a year.

One sentence in the article about this (front page of the Business section in The Birmingham News on Sunday, November 13) has a subject/verb agreement problem:

Gov. Robert Bentley, along with other state and local leaders, are expected to attend a special ceremony Monday at the $1.5 billion, 4,000-worker Lincoln plant.

Whoops! The subject of this sentence is GOV. ROBERT BENTLEY, so the verb should be IS (singular).  Reporter Dawn Kent inserted the phrase ALONG WITH OTHER STATE AND LOCAL LEADERS between BENTLEY and the verb, which is fine.  However, that inserted phrase is not part of the subject and does not affect the relationship between BENTLEY and IS. It does not create a compound subject.  The sentence should read as follows:

Gov. Robert Bentley, along with other state and local leaders, is expected to attend a special ceremony Monday at the $1.5 billion, 4,000-worker Lincoln plant.

 

 


Snack bags boosts = Whoops!

Monday, November 14th, 2011

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, and it pops up in amusing places.  A company called Gamer Food is now offering snacks to boost your energy for game playing. Who knew sitting at a console could burn enough calories to require an energy snack!

The announcement about these snacks in the Tech section of The Birmingham News this morning contained this sentence:

Gamer Food has released snack bags they say boosts your energy for game playing.

Whoops! The word BAGS is plural, and the word BOOSTS, which refers back to the BAGS, is singular.  That won't work because the subject and verb must agree.  It should be: The BAGS BOOST.  Putting THEY SAY in between does not change that relationship. The sentence should read as follows:

Gamer Food has released snack bags they say boost your energy for game playing.

 Anyone out there have a study on how many calories a gamer burns per hour? I have no idea if these snacks (not the bags) boost energy in general, but they come in three flavors–Seeds of Victory, Nuts of Destruction, and Cashews for Chaos!


Grammar Glitch Central celebrates four years!

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Welcome to the four-year anniversary post of Grammar Glitch Central.  I'd like to thank all of you who have continued to read these posts and to offer comments and suggestions from time to time.  We have covered a wide range of topics related to good grammar and usage, and I hope you continue to find this blog useful, with a dash of fun thrown in.

In honor of the occasion, I am reposting the very first Grammar Glitch Central post from November 7, 2007 with a few updates in style and presentation:

There is a longstanding rule in English grammar: SUBJECT MUST AGREE WITH VERB. Or, stated another way, IF THE SUBJECT IS SINGULAR, THE VERB SHOULD BE SINGULAR. IF THE SUBJECT IS PLURAL, THE VERB SHOULD BE PLURAL. Sometimes, if the subject and verb are not close to each other, it's difficult to make the determination. Such was the problem for a writer in the "Money" section of USA TODAY this morning. He wrote:
  

Fresh researc h  by top leadership gurus suggest that if great leaders have something in common, it could be this: a knack for escaping lapses of bad judgment.
 
   

In the sentence above, the subject of the main idea is RESEARCH. The verb should therefore be SUGGESTS. The intervening phrase "by top leadership gurus" does not affect the relationship of RESEARCH SUGGESTS. Therefore, good judgment (and the longstanding rule stated above) would require this sentence to read correctly as follows:


Fresh researc h by top leadership gurus suggests that if great leaders have something in common, it could be this: a knack for escaping lapses of bad judgment.

 

Since that first post in 2007, I have written about subject/verb agreement at least 25 more times, so the problem is still with us.  Here is today's example from a headline in the Roman Catholic publication One Voice:

 

Rev. King's Life and Faith  Inspires  People at Memorial's Dedication

 

There were TWO things (plural) about Dr. Martin Luther King that inspired people at the recent dedication of the memorial to him on the Mall in Washington, D. C.  One was his LIFE, and the other was his FAITH. If you refer to these two elements together (LIFE AND FAITH), the reference requires the plural verb INSPIRE.  The headline should read this way:

Rev. King's Life and Faith Inspire  People at Memorial's Dedication

Thanks again for making Grammar Glitch Central a successful blog with a regular following. Your comments and examples are always welcome.


   
   
 
  
 
 


Agreement Glitches Mar Two Photo Captions in One Issue!

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

First off, congratulations to the Highland Park neighborhood of Birmingham for being named one of 10 Great Neighborhoods for 2011 by the American Planning Association.  I used to live in that area and still love to walk there and visit the theaters and restaurants.

Unfortunately, the caption under one of the photographs with the article in The Birmingham News is not as great as the neighborhood.  Take a look:

Easy access to public open spaces are among the benefits of living in Highland Park, named today as one of 10 Great Neighborhoods for 2011.

Whoops #1:  The subject of this sentence is the word ACCESS, which is singular.  Therefore, the verb should be IS not ARE.  (Easy access is one benefit among many.) It should read this way:

Easy access to public open spaces is among the benefits of living in Highland Park, named today as one of 10 Great Neighborhoods for 2011.

More good news for Birmingham followed a few pages later with an article about the newly redesigned Red Mountain Cabaret Theater space. However, the grammar in this caption is not any better than in the Highland Park caption.  Take a look at this sentence:

The newly redesigned Red Mountain Cabaret theater space now includes new theater seats that increases the venue's capacity to 260.

 

Whoops #2: The SEATS (plural) are what INCREASES (singular) the seating capacity of the theater.  INCREASES should be changed to INCREASE (plural) to go with SEATS.  The sentence should read this way:

The newly redesigned Red Mountain Cabaret theater space now includes new theater seats that increase the venue's capacity to 260.