English has developed over the course of more than 1,400 years. It is the largest language by number of speakers, and is either the official language or one of the official languages in almost 60 sovereign states. This makes the importance of English, tremendous. Modern English relies more on auxiliary verbs and word order for the expression of tenses, aspect, mood, as well as passive constructions, interrogatives and negation.
Here we will talk about some of the rules and tips, knowing which will help us sail through English grammar.
1.The subject of the sentence determines the number of the verb
A subject and its verb must both be either singular or plural. While this is an easy rule to follow there are certain cases where it gets a bit tricky.
A prepositional phrase modifying the subject is a common source of trouble. In the sentence ‘A bulk of foreign imports has been seized’ the verb is singular as it has to agree with the singular subject ‘a bulk’. ‘Of foreign imports’ is not the subject, but only a part of it. Although compound subjects generally take plural verbs, sometimes a subject really expresses a singular idea. E.g. ‘The company’s bread and butter is still shipping.’ The subject, bread and butter, is plural in form but singular in sense, so it takes the singular verb is.
There (in its use as a subject stand-in, as in There is another way) presents a special problem. In the sentence ‘There is still market capacity and established competition to be considered’ the compound subject capacity and competition should take the plural verb are, not the singular verb is.
2.It is perfectly acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition
The so called rule that sentences should not end with a preposition does not hold good in today’s English. Often a sentence that ends with a preposition sounds far more natural than the same sentence forced into avoiding the terminal preposition. It is completely correct to write ‘What will the new product be used for?’ instead of ‘For what purpose will the new product be used?’
3.Both either and neither, as subjects, take singular verbs
There can be distractions caused by prepositional phrases containing plural objects. But the subjects either and neither are singular. So the correct way of writing will be Either of the marketing plans involves [not involve] capital investment and Neither of our expansion options provides [not provide] a total solution.
It is mention worthy here that with neither/nor and either/or in the subject position, the second element controls the number of the verb.
Examples – Either phone or fax is acceptable for your response
Neither our accountants nor our lawyers are concerned about the merger.
Neither the regional managers nor the vice-president for sales likes [not like] the proposed campaign’s theme
Either the home office or the branch managers are [not is] largely responsible for employee morale.
4.With a verb phrase, the adverb usually goes after the first auxiliary verb
It is generally agreed that following the first auxiliary verb is the most natural course for an adverb. Example – Hindus have long believed in the theory of rebirth. The alternatives are quite confusing – Hindus long have believed in the theory of rebirth or Hindus have believed long in the theory of rebirth resistance to this guidance may be due to the old superstition that it’s ungrammatical to split an infinitive (it isn’t), since that is one type of split verb
When the phrase has more than one auxiliary verb, the most natural placement is usually after the first one. Example – It has long been assumed.
5.Relative pronouns (that, which, and who) must appear alongside their antecedents
A relative pronoun (that, which, who, whom, and various forms with the ever suffix) either connects a dependent clause to an independent one or it can join a clause with its antecedent. An example of the first case – Whoever wants to play should register. Here, the dependent clause (whoever wants to play) serves as the subject of the main clause. An example of the second case – Those who want to participate are welcome. Here, the dependent clause (who want to participate) adds crucial information about its antecedent, those.
The second type of relative pronoun should be close to its antecedent—preferably immediately after it. The link must be clear because trouble can occur when the reference becomes uncertain.
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