As a copy editor, one of the most important aspects of grammar to keep in mind is subject-verb agreement. When we speak or write, we naturally use phrases that contain a subject, verb, and sometimes an object. The subject is the person, place, thing, or idea that the sentence is about, while the verb is the action or state of being that the subject performs.
One type of phrase that often causes confusion in terms of subject-verb agreement is the “of” phrase. This type of phrase includes a preposition (“of”) followed by a noun. For example, “The book of essays is on the shelf.”
When it comes to subject-verb agreement with “of” phrases, the general rule of thumb is that the verb should agree with the subject that comes before the preposition. In the example above, “book” is the subject, and it is singular. Therefore, the verb “is” is also singular.
However, when the noun in the “of” phrase comes after a plural subject, the verb must also be plural. For instance, “The group of students are studying for exams.” In this case, “students” is the plural subject, so the verb “are” must also be plural.
There are a few exceptions to this rule, however. When the noun in the “of” phrase refers to a quantity or amount, the verb should agree with the noun itself, rather than the subject before the preposition. For example, “A lot of money was spent on the event” (not “were spent”).
Another exception occurs when the noun in the “of” phrase refers to a collective noun, such as “team” or “committee.” These types of nouns can refer to multiple individuals but are still treated as singular. As a result, the verb should also be singular, such as in the phrase “The team of players is practicing for the championship game.”
In summary, when using “of” phrases, it’s crucial to pay attention to subject-verb agreement. The verb should agree with the subject before the preposition, except in cases where the noun in the “of” phrase refers to a quantity or a collective noun. By keeping these rules in mind, you can ensure that your writing is grammatically correct and clear for your readers.