Monday Morning Grammar: Subject-Verb Agreement IV—Inverted Sentence Construction and Linking Verbs

In this final installment of Mots Justes’ series on subject-verb agreement, we’ll examine funky sentence constructions.

In most sentences, the subject comes first, followed by the verb. However, sometimes the verb comes before the subject. This can cause confusion, but make sure that the verb still agrees with the subject:

On the hard drive is a copy of Jim’s resume.
In the printer are Derrick’s letters of recommendation.

Often inverted sentences start with there is or there are:

There is one job opening at the company where Derrick works.
There are several applicants for the position.

Finally, sometimes linking verbs (be, am, is, are, was, were, being, been) link singular subjects with plural subject complements or vice versa. In these cases, make sure the linking verb agrees with the subject:

The most popular act in the talent show was Jim and Derrick’s comedy sketches.
Their absurd costumes and deadpan delivery are the core of their comedy.

Resources

Hacker, Diana, The Bedford Handbook for Writers, 3rd ed. Boston: St. Martin’s Press: 1991.

Strunk Jr., William, and White, E.B. The Elements of Style. 4th ed. New York: Longman, 2000.

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