Grammar lesson #15: subject/verb agreement (Part 3)

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[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

Subject/verb agreement end of story (at least in this girl’s blog).

  • Rule: If a sentence begins with there is or there are, the subject comes after the verb; the verb agrees with what follows.
  • Examples: There are many fans waiting for autographs.  There is a lone shell expecting to be plucked up.
  • Rule: Nouns that imply more than one person, but are considered singular such as committee, class, family, group and team, are called collective nouns and require a singular verb.
  • Examples: The group of shellers combs the beach each morning before sunrise.  The family of dolphins swims and plays together.
  • Rule: Such expressions as with, together with, including, in addition to, as well as or accompanied by don’t change the number of the subject.  Singular subjects beget singular verbs.
  • Example: His shell, together with hers, is polished and ready for display.

For additional grammar help, check out The Purdue Online Writing Lab.

Do you have an easier way of getting the job done, or additional tips to say it right?

Grammar lesson #2: plural possessive the right way

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[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

While the topic of apostrophes is still fresh, it’s time to review plural possessive.  Remember, if a singular proper noun owns something, an apostrophe (with means possessive) is required before the “s” (i.e., our  lemon tree’s fruit is ripe).  Conversely, if the word is plural the apostrophe is placed after the “s.”  For example, our lemon tree is filled with more than one lemon; therefore, the lemons’ citrus scent permeates our backyard.  Similarly, if multiple communities share the same landscape plan, then the three communities’ flora and fauna are uniform.  And if I’m talking about something belonging to me, I can either write Chris’ lemon tree or Chris’s lemon tree — both ways are acceptable.  But here’s where it can get tricky: if a group or a family name does not end in “s,” you must insert an apostrophe and an “s” (i.e., the Schmidt’s lemon tree).  However, if the name already ends in “s,” add the apostrophe only (i.e., the Williams’ lemon tree).  Also, an “‘s” is added to plural forms not ending in “s” such as the children’s lemonade stand.  If you’re still stumped, check out

Can you add any other exceptions to the plural possessive rules?