When it comes to writing, subject-verb agreement is crucial in ensuring the clarity and coherence of your sentences. One of the most common mistakes that writers make in this regard is the use of “was” and “were.”
The main rule to remember is that “was” should be used with singular subjects (e.g. “he was,” “she was,” “it was”) while “were” should be used with plural subjects (e.g. “they were,” “we were,” “you were”).
For example, consider the following sentence: “The dogs was barking.” This sentence is incorrect because “dogs” is a plural subject and should be accompanied by the plural form of the verb “were.” Therefore, the correct sentence should be: “The dogs were barking.”
Similarly, consider this sentence: “She were happy with the results.” This sentence is incorrect because “she” is a singular subject and should be accompanied by the singular form of the verb “was.” The correct sentence is: “She was happy with the results.”
In some cases, however, determining whether to use “was” or “were” can be a bit tricky. For example, when using the conditional tense, “were” can be used with singular subjects. This usage is known as the subjunctive mood and is used to express hypothetical or unlikely scenarios. An example of this is the phrase “If I were you,” which is often used to give advice or make suggestions.
In addition, when using the past tense, the verb “to be” can be conjugated in various ways depending on the specific situation. For example, “was” is used with first-person singular (I), third-person singular (he, she, it), and singular nouns while “were” is used with first-person plural (we), second-person singular and plural (you), and third-person plural (they) subjects.
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is an essential aspect of effective writing, and understanding when to use “was” and “were” is critical to avoid common mistakes. Remember, “was” is used with singular subjects while “were” is used with plural subjects. By following this simple rule, you can ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and grammatically correct.