A. Here’s the problem:
You’ve been taught these rules a few dozen times, and you know they’re not that difficult, but sometimes you get careless. Either you forget to proofread carefully or, more often, your sentences contain compound subjects or phrases between the subject and verb that temporarily blind you to the real subject-verb agreement.
B. What to do:
As you revise your essays, look carefully at sentences to make certain whether the grammatical subject of each clause is singular or plural. More importantly, make sure you’re looking at the true subject, not a word in a prepositional phrase.
C. Example: Mr. Darcy’s pride and his aloof nature prevents him from meeting and understanding Elizabeth. . .
Corrected Version: Mr. Darcy’s pride and his aloof nature prevent him from meeting and understanding Elizabeth. . .
D. Now you try—write corrected versions of the following sentences.
1. Jane Austen’s novel, as well as her many others, have been and continue to be enjoyed by many.
2. Elizabeth’s response to Mr. Darcy and Lady Catherine are two of the best scenes in the novel because they illustrate her heroism.
E. For more information or additional practice, check the following sources:
Strunk & White, pp. 9-11 (available at http://www.bartleby.com/141/)