Subject -Verb Agreement


Some guidelines to help your subjects and verbs agree:

  1. When the subject of a sentence is composed of two or more nouns or pronouns connected by and, use a plural verb.

She and her friends are at the execution.

  1. When two or more singular nouns or pronouns are connected by “or” or “nor”, use a singular verb.

The book or the pen is in the drawer.

Neither the book nor the pen is in the drawer.

  1. When a compound subject contains both a singular and a plural noun or pronoun joined by “or” or “nor”, the verb should agree with the part of the subject that is nearer the verb.

The boy or his friends run every day.

His friends or the boy runs every day.



A conjunction is a word that joins two independent clauses, or sentences, together.

Example 1: Ellen wanted to take drive into the city, but the cost of gasoline was too high.

Example 2: Richard planned to study abroad in Japan, so he decided to learn the language.

In the examples above, both but and so are conjunctions. They join two complete sentences with the help of a comma. And, but, for, or, nor, so, and yet can all act as conjunctions.

Tired of people telling you your writing is awkward?


I’m a member of three critique groups, so I spend a lot of time reading other writers’ work.  I often find awkward sentences that violate the rules of parallel structure.

Why is it important? 

Parallel structure makes your sentences graceful. People may not be able to tell you why your writing is awkward, but they feel it. You may not know how to describe what is wrong with your dance partner’s tango steps, but you feel it when they* step on your foot.

Continue reading “Tired of people telling you your writing is awkward?”

Grammar Tidbit

Photo Credit Used under a CC license
Photo Credit Used under a CC license

I can never remember the grammar rule for “lie/lay.” The other day a writer I know said something to me about this; I think the distinction has fully stuck to my slick and porous brain. She said:

“We LAY objects down. But you, as a subject, must LIE down.”

Ever the smart-ass, I said “what about the prayer, ‘now I lay me down to sleep . . .'”.

But she was ready for me. She said “In that sentence ‘me’ is the object, ‘I’ is the subject.”

And the stars twinkled in the sky, and a million angels high-fived me. I think this has finally soaked in.

Also, fuck you, Mrs. Valensky (my eighth grade English teacher). Why couldn’t you make it so simple?!