Monday, November 2, 2009

Lecture 7: Subject-Verb & Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement


Subject–verb agreement is “the matching of the number and person of the subject to the form of the verb. When the subject is third-person singular and the verb is in the present tense, the verb takes the –s inflection, as in: The dog barks all night. He bothers the neighbours.

With other subjects and in other tenses, verbs (with the exception of be) do not change to match the number or person of the subject: I sleep, we sleep, he slept, they slept.”

Basic Principle:

Singular subjects need singular verbs; plural subjects need plural verbs.

My brother is a nutritionist.
My sisters are mathematicians.

For more review, have a look at this grammar site and the OWL reference sheet.

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 fair.
2. 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.
3. 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.

Pronoun and Antecedent
Pronoun = word that is substituted for a noun or noun equivalent. 
The critique of Plato's Republic was written from a contemporary point of view. It was an in-depth analysis of Plato's opinions about possible governmental forms.
Antecedent = word, phrase, or clause that has the characteristics of a noun (person, place or thing) and is referred to by a pronoun)
The critique of Plato's Republic was written from a contemporary point of view. It was an in-depth analysis of Plato's opinions about possible governmental forms.

Mary saw John and spoke to him. (John is the antecedent.  Him is the pronoun.)
1. The members of the choir lost its/their voices two days before the spring concert.
2. Minne, Sandra Bullock's cat, was hit by a car last week and broke their/its leg.
3. The union workers went on strike to get a raise in its/their wages.

Review Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement:

When completed, craft 4 grammatically correct sentences using any of these pronouns and antecedents:
Auditor, janitor, lawyer, professor, his, her, she, their, family, basketball league, kitten, they, dinosaur, it, themselves, them, him

Add your sentences in a comment to Lecture 7 (this one).

We will conclude the lesson with an activity based on our readings of the two txt spk essays.

The following quotation is from SALI A. TAGLIAMONTE and DEREK DENIS's article: "LINGUISTIC RUIN? LOL! INSTANT MESSAGING AND TEEN LANGUAGE," American Speech, 83.1, Spring 2008 doi 10.1215/00031283-2008-001. You can access it here with your MacEwan id.

In formal written language, colloquial variants are illegitimate, prohibited by “language police” of all persuasions (teachers, editors, etc.). Indeed, anecdotal reports suggest that teachers are increasingly penalizing students for the use of abbreviations in written assignments. In teenage conversations, however, formal variants are equally undesirable. IM appears to be a venue in which teenagers are free to use all these features together. This linguistic fusion is endemic to the register itself. Individuals pick and choose from all the available variants that their linguistic system has to offer and draw from the entire stylistic repertoire of the language that exists at a given point in time. If the teenagers did not already possess skilled command of their linguistic system, this would be impossible. The character and nature of IM we have uncovered here reveals fluid mastery of the sociolinguistic resources in their speech community. We conclude that IM, and perhaps computer-mediated communication more generally, is not the ruin of this generation at all, but an expansive new linguistic renaissance.


  1. Headlin #1:
    Iron River driver ID'd in fatal Bonnyville crash
    Subject: Iron River driver Verb: ID'd

    RCMP believe icy road conditions were the cause of the collision.
    Subject: RCMP Verb: believe

    The snowplow driver was not hurt.
    Subject: snowplow driver verb: was not

    Headline #2:
    Tambellini makes dad proud
    Subject: Tambellini Verb: makes

    Jeff Tambellini notched his first NHL hat trick
    Subject: Jeff Tambellini Verb: notched

    So how does his son follow up on his first three goal night?
    Subject: his son Verb: follow up

  2. Headline 1: "Edmontonians don masks at new flu assessment centre"

    Subject: "Edmontonians"
    Verb: "don"

    Sentence 1: The 10-year-old came home from school Thursday..."

    Subject: "The 10-year-old"
    Verb: "came home"

    Sentence 2: "Those experiencing shortness of breath and chest pain..."

    Subject: "Those"
    Verb: "experiencing"

    Headline 2: "Weekend of drama closes bland season"

    Subject: "Weekend of drama"
    Verb: "closes"

    Sentence 1: "Edmonton would be headed for the East semifinal..."

    Subject: "Edmonton"
    Verb: "would be headed"

    Sentence 2: "the Eskimos would ride a modest two-game winning streak to qualify for the Western semifinal..."

    Subject: "the Eskimos"
    Verb: "would ride"

  3. Headline: EDMONTON PEDESTRIAN(subject) SENT(verb) to hospital with critical injuries
    1) The MAN(subject) WAS HIT(verb) while crossing 101 Street at 105A Avenue around 11:30 p.m., said Edmonton Police Staff Sgt. Graham Hogg.
    2) PARAMEDICS(subject) TOOK(verb) the man to the Royal Alexandra Hospital with serious head injuries, he said.

    Headline: TAMBELLINI(subject) MAKES(verb) dad proud
    1) THE DEVILS(subject) WON(verb) the game 5-4 and Steve Tambellini would go on to register his second career hat trick two years later, when he was with the Calgary Flames.
    2) When Schremp first got to New York in the fall, TAMBELLINI(subject) WAS SCRATCHED(verb) to make room for the Oilers castoff.

  4. NUMBAH 1:

    HEADLINE: "Family of fallen Calgary soldier thanks troops in Afghanistan"

    'Family' being the subject, 'thanks' being the verb

    "Marshall, 24, was excited about military life . . . "

    'Marshall' is the subject, 'excited' being the verb

    "The family of a Calgary soldier killed by a landmine in Afghanistan on Friday is thanking those still fighting in Afghanistan . . ."

    'family' is the subject, 'thanking' is the verb

    NUMBAH 2:
    HEADLINE: "Beloved broadcaster best known for his warmth"

    broadcaster is the subject, known is the verb

    "Friends and family will best remember Mr. McLean for his kindness"

    Friends and family are the subjects, remember is the verb

    "Mr. McLean looked forward to attending special events wearing his national formal dress"

    Mr McLean is the subject, looked is the verb

  5. Shawna BlumenscheinNovember 2, 2009 at 2:18 PM

    Family (subject) of fallen Calgary soldier thanks (verb) troops in Afghanistan

    -The family (subject) of a Calgary soldier killed by a landmine in Afghanistan on Friday is thanking (verb) those still fighting in Afghanistan for continuing on with the mission that sapper Steven Marshall believed in.

    -The Calgarian (subject) had only been (verb) in Afghanistan for a week when he was killed.

    Court (subject) rejects (verb) Arar bid to sue U.S.

    -A U.S. appeals court (subject) ruled (verb) Monday that Syrian-born Canadian Maher Arar cannot sue the United States over his forced deportation to Syria after his arrest in New York as a suspected terrorist.

    -Arar's lawsuit (subject) specifically targets (verb) Ashcroft, Mueller, former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge, as well as numerous directors of the U.S. immigration officials in connection with his 2002 deportation.

  6. Headline 1: Teen Medicine Hat killer(subject) gets(verb) open custody

    The 16-year-old girl(subject), who was 12 when she and her 23-year-old lover slaughtered her parents and little brother inside their Medicine Hat home April 23, 2006, remains(verb) in custody at Alberta Hospital in Edmonton.

    However, the Crown(subject) is asking(verb) that the girl's progress be assessed every six months rather than just once a year, and that her risk to the public be constantly assessed.

    Headline 2: Calgary-area man(subject) to claim(verb) $17M prize after lottery corp. drops resistance

    Ndabene (subject) took (verb) the dispute to Court of Queen's Bench on Monday, where there was no opposition the lottery officials.

    Lawyer Tyler Derksen (subject), who represented the lottery corporation, told(verb) court "we're not resisting Mr. Ndabene's claim to have payments made out of court."

  7. HEADLINE: Canadian (subject) Leads(verb) international task force on breast cancer

    1: It(subject) strikes(verb) rich and poor women alike.

    2: Doctors(subject) will diagnose(verb) 1.35 million new cases of breast cancer this year.


    HEADLINE: U of A(subject) wants(verb) to be smarter this time in face of downturn

    1: The university(subject) has gone(verb) through this cycle about four or five times

    2: Permanent staff(subject) suddenly had to cover(verb) weekends and late nights.

  8. Headline 1= Edmonton pedestrian(subject) sent(verb) to hospital with critical injuries.
    Paramedics(subject) took(verb) the man to Royal Alexandria Hospital with serious head injuries.
    Police(subject) are still investigating(verb) the collision.

    Headline 2= Blue Rodeo(subject) to visit(verb) Edmonton is January.
    Canada’s favourite country-rockers(subject) will perform(verb) Thursday, Jan. 7.
    Tickets(subject) are(verb) $50.50 and $66.50 plus service charges

  9. Headline 1: Beloved broadcaster (subject) best known (verb) for his warmth

    -Norris Alexander McLean (subject) died (verb) on Oct. 4 after complications caused by a brain tumor.

    -He (subject) was (verb) 76.

    Headline 2:Kids, check (verb) your candy bags (subject) for a lost ring

    -A trick-or-treater who stopped at James Fearn's house Saturday night (subject) collected (verb) Oh Henry bars, lollipops -- and one gold ring.

    -That last item (subject) was (verb) an accident.

  10. Headline:
    Halloween (subject) pales (verb) next to Haiti’s annual voodoo holiday

    Sentence 1:
    We (subject) disembark (verb) in total black ness.

    Sentence 2:
    The drumming (subject) begins (verb), pounding and intense.

    112-year-old Somali man (subject) weds (verb) 17-year-old girl

    Sentence 1:
    "My wife (subject) is (verb) 10 times younger than me, but we love each other so much and I believe that I can give her the kind of love that not any young man can offer," said Ahmed Mohamed Dhore.

    Sentence 2:
    "Married life (subject) is (verb) about love and passion rather than age and beauty," said the centenarian.

  11. Subject/verb agreement headlines:

    Headline: U of A Wants to be Smarter This Time in Face of Downturn. The subject is "U of A"; The verb is "wants."
    1. The University faces a projected $59-million shortage. The subject is "The University", and the verb is "faces."
    2. A decade ago, the picture was completely different. The subject is "the picture", and the verb is "was."

    Headline: Drayton Valley Climbs Aboard World Class Industry. The subject is "Drayton Valley", and the Verb is "Climbs."
    1. CLIMB doesn't actually have an office yet, just a commitment to one. The subject is "CLIMB" and the verb is "have."
    2. Hamdon expects the study results within six months. The subject is "Hamdon", and the verb is "Expects."

  12. Headline #1: Alberta teen (subject) haunted (verb) by rape ordeal; guilty plea (subject) expected (verb) at trial

    Two sentences: i) The family (subject) endured (verb) 46 hours of not knowing if the girl was dead or alive after she disappeared Feb. 26.
    ii) Baumgarte (subject) was arrested (verb) the next day.

    Headline #2: Stelmach (subject) meets (verb) with Alberta health officials about H1N1

    Two sentences: i) Chief medical officer Andre Corriveau (subject) could not say (verb) Monday when clinics will start again.
    ii) Alberta (subject) initially received (verb) 600,000 doses of the vaccine.

  13. 1.Canadian leads global breast cancer task force. “Canadian” is the subject and “leads” is the verb.

    A.In 2020, 1.7 million new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed worldwide. "2020" is the subject and "diagnosed" is the verb.
    B.A Canadian breast cancer survivor and researcher at Harvard University is leading the fight against various cancers. “Survivor” is the subject and “leading the fight” is the verb.

    2.Family of fallen Calgary solider thanks troops in Afghanistan. “Family of fallen Calgary solider” is the subject and “thanks” is the verb.
    A.The Calgarian had only been in Afghanistan for a week when he was killed. “Calgarian” is the subject and “killed” is the verb.
    B."Whether it was his passion for the outdoors, his thirst for adventure or his enthusiasm for travel, Steven found his niche in the Army," his family said. “Steven” is the subject and “found” is the verb.

  14. Headline 1: Teen Medicine Hat killer (SUBJECT) gets (VERB) open custody

    Sentence 1: As part of her (SUBJECT) rehabilitation and gradual return to the community, the girl will be allowed (VERB) to go for escorted walks on hospital grounds and be taken to banks and shopping malls.

    Sentence 2: The 16-year-old girl (SUBJECT), who was 12 when she and her 23-year-old lover slaughtered (VERB) her parents and little brother inside their Medicine Hat home April 23, 2006, remains in custody at Alberta Hospital in Edmonton.

    Headline 2: U of A (SUBJECT) wants (VERB) to be smarter this time in face of downturn

    Sentence 1: Today's projected eight-per-cent budget (SUBJECT) shortfall is mainly caused (VERB) by a provincial funding freeze.

    Sentence 2: Eccles (SUBJECT), who is also president of the non-academic staff association, is worried (VERB), but optimistic (VERB).

  15. Article 1:
    U of A(subject) wants(verb) to be smarter this time in face of downturn

    Two Sentences: The university(subject) was emerging(verb) from the Klein era cuts, struggling with low morale with little hint that things would change.

    Support staff(subject) were cut(verb) far more than faculty then, which is nearly inevitable, says Owram.

    Article 2:
    Teen Medicine Hat killer(subject) gets(verb) open custody

    Two sentences: Canada's youngest multiple killer(subject) is now able to have(verb) a taste of freedom after a judge changed her sentence from closed to open custody, allowing escorted absences into the community.

    As part of her rehabilitation and gradual return to the community, the girl(subject) will be allowed to go(verb) for escorted walks on hospital grounds and be taken to banks and shopping malls.

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  21. 1. My lawyer(antecedent), who has red hair and green eyes, found her(pronoun) glasses after looking for fifteen minutes.
    2. The family(antecedent) decided to treat themselves to a long road trip; however, they(pronoun) lost their dog on the first day.
    3. Professor(antecedent) Crandle found that her(pronoun) pumps were to small, so she decided to change them before her meeting started.
    4.My high school janitor(antecedent) found a new job as a secretary, but his(pronoun) children stole all of his good ties.

  22. Although it seemed like a slam-dunk, the lawyer(antecedent) lost her(pronoun) case.

    Despite threatening weather patterns, the Stone family(antecedent) left for their(pronoun) summer vacation in Idaho.

    Even though its(pronoun) stomach was growling, the dinosaur(antecedent) waited patiently for its(pronoun) food.

    The cat(antecedent) played a trick on its(pronoun) nemesis; the dog.

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  24. Shawna BlumenscheinNovember 2, 2009 at 3:56 PM

    The janitor (antecedent) cleaned the school from top to bottom without any of his (pronoun) supplies.

    The lawyer (antecedent) won her (pronoun) case despite the perception that the prosecution had the jury convinced from the first day.

    The kitten (antecedent) stood on its (pronoun) tail and wondered why it was stuck.

    A dinosaur (antecedent) awoke and terrorized the museum for a week before it (pronoun) collapsed and disintegrated in the foyer.

  25. 1.The janitor (antecedent) went to see his (pronoun) lawyer.
    2.The auditor (antecedent) was on his (pronoun) way to audit his (pronoun)old boss.
    3.The dinosaur (antecedent) ate his (pronoun) dinner in the park.
    4.Can you tell the kitten (antecedent) I am looking for him (pronoun)?

  26. The janitor(antecedent ate her(pronoun) ice cream, feeling as though it was the only part of her day worth waking up for.

    Late for his(pronoun) class, the professor(antecedent) sped through traffic, cutting off an old woman on her way to bingo.

    The kitten(antecedent) shook in its(pronoun) fur when Lord Voldemort apparated into the room.

    There was a dinosaur(antecedent) on the lawn, scaring the neighborhood kids as it(pronoun) ate the Jones’s kitten.

  27. 1. The dinosaur(antecedent) scared most of the children with its(pronoun) huge spikes.
    2. As the janitor(antecedent) mopped up the mess from the food fight, his(pronoun) stomach began to growl upon seeing all of the discarded food.
    3. The lawyer(antecedent) was proven to be very well-prepared for the court case because she(pronoun) was able to provide the jury with a lot of information.
    4. The children’s basketball league(antecedent) made it to their(pronoun) first play-off game this year.

  28. The fair-haired and blue-eyed janitor (antecedent), who worked at the West Edmonton Mall every day, forgot the lunch that his (pronoun) wife had painstakingly prepared for him (pronoun) the night before.

    The big purple dinosaur (antecedent) roared loudly at the little girl (antecedent), but she (pronoun) was not afraid of it (pronoun) and merely laughed.

    My lawyer (antecedent) took his (pronoun) family (antecedent) to their (pronoun) favourite picnic spot in the park for Canada Day last year.

    Professor Taylor (antecedent) forgot her (pronoun) pink sunglasses at her (pronoun) best friend's cabin where she (pronoun) had spent most of the summer.

  29. 1. The janitor (antecedent) carefully mopped the floor, as if it was in his (pronoun) own house.

    2. The basketball league (antecedent) decided that it (pronoun) ought to pay its (pronoun) players less, on account of their lack of ability, and an overall decrease in fan support.

    3. The dinosaur (antecedent), in search of lunch, found its (pronoun) prey drinking at the edge of the lake.

    4. Mary (antecedent) was a very impatient person; she (pronoun) hated it when her (pronoun) car wouldn't start in the cold weather.

  30. 1. The JANITOR smiled HIS happiest smile when he met the University's president in the hall, even though he didn't much like the man.
    2. As SHE was running through the halls of HER office building, the LAWYER ran straight into HER best friend, the judge.
    3. Every Wednesday night the FAMILY plays board games, since it is THEIR only game night of the week.
    4. Not all DINOSAURS eat meat, many of THEM are herbivores, which means they are plant-eaters.

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  32. The moustachioed rabbit(Antecedent) was angry that his(pronoun) favourite show had been canceled.

    The dinosaur(Antecedent) very-much-so wanted his(pronoun) chance to play in the basketball league.

    Jeffrey((Antecedent-1) had an adorable little kitten(Antecedent-2), but he was so afraid of it(pronoun-2) that he(pronoun-1) had to give it(pronoun-2) to someone else.

    The janitor(Antecedent) loved disco-dance so much that he(pronoun) be-dazzled his(pronoun) uniform and danced in the halls at night.

  33. 1. The janitor (antecedent) lost the keys, which he (pronoun) carries in his (pronoun) left pocket, before his (pronoun) shift was over.

    2. She (pronoun) was always working long hours; she (pronoun) knew it would be this way when she (pronoun) became a lawyer (antecedent), but that didn’t stop her (pronoun).

    3. The kitten (antecedent) ran away from home one rainy night, but return home to her (pronoun) family the next day after the sun had dried up the puddles.

    4. It (pronoun) was the largest dinosaur (antecedent) to ever roam the earth, or so we had thought until then.

  34. The auditor (ant.) left a highly volatile case of liquid nitrogen in the back of his (pro.) locked car.

    The dinosaur (ant.) ate her (pro.) meal of cavemen behind the big rock.

    The asparagus farmers (ant.) knew they (pro.) couldn't keep up their (pro.) charade much longer.

    An attention-deficit-disorder kitten (ant.) let its (pro.) ball slide into the basement, but it (pro.) didn't really care.

  35. 1. The janitor(antecedent), who worked after-hours at the school, cleaned the floor with his(pronoun) mop.

    2. The dinosaurs(antecedent) could not agree where to for dinner. They(pronoun) argued amongst themselves(pronoun) until an agreement was reached.

    3. The basketball league(antecedent) held its(pronoun) annual fundraiser.

    4. A professor(antecedent) should not carry on an inappropriate relationship with his/her(pronoun) students.

  36. 1.After the lawyer (antecedent) had won the case, his (pronoun) ego grew larger with every compliment his (pronoun) peers gave him (pronoun).

    2.Once the dinosaur (antecedent) strayed from the pack during migration, it (pronoun) had no way of surviving the cold.

    3.No one is a fan of our company’s auditor (antecedent) because he (pronoun) is arrogant and merciless.

    4.My mother took the kitten (antecedent) because it (pronoun) looked like it (pronoun) hadn’t eaten in days.