Indefinite-Pronoun Verb Agreement Error

As a copy editor, one of the most common errors I come across is the indefinite-pronoun verb agreement error. This error occurs when an indefinite pronoun, such as “everyone,” “someone,” or “anyone,” is used as the subject of a sentence but the verb that follows does not agree with it in number.

For example, consider the sentence “Everyone in the room was talking.” The indefinite pronoun “everyone” is singular, but the verb “were” is plural. This sentence should be corrected to read, “Everyone in the room was talking.”

This error is particularly common because indefinite pronouns can be confusing to use in sentences. Indefinite pronouns are words that refer to a person, place, or thing without specifying exactly who or what is being referred to. For example, “somebody” and “anybody” are both indefinite pronouns because they do not refer to a specific person.

To avoid indefinite-pronoun verb agreement errors, it’s important to remember that the verb that follows an indefinite pronoun should always agree with it in number. If the pronoun is singular, the verb should be singular as well. If the pronoun is plural, the verb should be plural too.

For example:

– Everyone in the room was talking.

– Somebody left their phone on the table.

– Anybody can join the club.

In each of these sentences, the verb that follows the indefinite pronoun agrees with it in number.

In summary, the indefinite-pronoun verb agreement error is a common mistake that can be easily avoided. Remember to always use a singular verb if the indefinite pronoun is singular, and a plural verb if the indefinite pronoun is plural. By paying attention to these simple rules, you can ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and error-free.