The author S.A. Joo's Writing & Editing Advice & Tips

A professional Editor and YA Writer, represented by Black Hawk Literary Agency.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Subject-Verb Agreement: The Most Common Mistake Writers Make

Simplified Subject-Verb Agreement

This is the most common grammar error made by every writer besides punctuation errors. Here are the simplified rules of subject-verb agreement. There are many rules and exceptions; however, I’ll just note the top three because to list them all would take multiple pages. Turning this into an English lecture is not what I want.

Here. A singular subject (Mom, he, store, Sandy) takes a singular verb (is, goes, opens, has). A plural subject (parents, they, stores, Sandy and Tom) takes a plural verb (are, go, open, have). Simple, right? Well, here are the three key points to remember.

Point 1: A phrase beginning of a word “of” creates one of the most commonly made subject-verb mistakes.

Example: One of the parents is angry.

Explanation: The subject is one, which is singular, so the verb is singular is.

Point 2: The verb in an or, either/or, or neither/nor sentence agrees with the noun or pronoun closest to it.

Examples: Neither Mom nor Dad is available.
                  Either he or she is available to volunteer

Explanation: Both subjects are singular, so the verb is also singular.

Example: Neither the serving bowl nor the plates go on that shelf.

Explanation: The subject closest to the verb is plates (plural), so the verb is plural.

Point 3: Use a plural verb for two or more subjects when connected by “and.”

Example: A book “and” a pencil are all I need to study.

Exception: When “and” is a part of a compound nouns, use a singular verb. 

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Monday, February 11, 2019

American English vs British English: Write Responsibly

Slowly, the British English spelling crept into American society and remained undetected or ignored. But no more. Don't get me wrong. I lived in Britain for four years, which was one of the happiest times in my life. However, using their spelling in our country is wrong. After all, we fought in the war to gain independence, so why are we letting the Briticism take over? It's an epidemic that is spreading far and wide, even impacting school newsletter that students read.

1st offender is the media, which uses the AP style that is acceptable for international news. It is the biggest culprit because people trust what they see on the news or the news channel. The truth is even they go back and forth without thinking about the impact they have on the audience.

2nd offender is the Internet. Everyone with a computer and access to the Internet can put up whatever they want. This is the era of "alternative facts" that makes my mental anguish unbearable. when you  search up one thing, hundreds of different answers pop up, and 90% of them are opinions, not facts.

3rd biggest offender is my beloved self-published writers who published their books without having their books edited by professional editors. I've talked about this problem for years, so I digress.

My solution is simple and very elementary. But if enough people read this post, use the words themselves, and pass it on, it will result in change. It's a small impact and slow too, but it's a start. If you're American or writing for the American audience, don't use British English spelling. I will list some simple examples that I hope will be helpful. Please retweet and share this post. Let's take our language back!

                                               American English                           British English

Some words are spelled             airplane                                           aeroplane
differently altogether.                 jail                                                  gaol

The "er" is reversed.                   center                                             centre
                                                    theater                                            theatre

Adding "u" for no reason.           color                                              colour
                                                    labor                                               labour

Past tenses with "t."                    burned                                            burnt
                                                    spelled                                            spelt

Adding extra letters                    canceling                                        cancelled, cancelling
                                                    traveled, traveling                          travelled, travelling

                                                    programed                                      programmed
"ce" instead of "se"                     defense                                           defence
                                                    license                                             licence

"se" instead of "ze"                     organize                                          organise
                                                    recognize                                         recognise

Double vowels "ae" or "oe"        maneuver                                        manoeuvre
                                                    leukemia                                         leukaemia

Adding "s"                                  toward, forward, backward            towards, forwards, backwards.

Using y for i and e for a              tire                                                  tyre
                                                    gray                                                grey(50 Shades angers me because                                                                                                            it was written about American
                                                                                                           characters living in America. So,
                                                                                                           why that spelling in the book title?
                                                                                                           Should've hired an editor.)