It’s almost cute to hear a little girl dressed up like a princess say things like “I is a big girl.”
But when an international car company runs a national commercial with a terrible example of subject-verb agreement — “Its popularity in the hearts and minds of millions have solidified its reputation for quality and high MPG.” — it’s not so cute.
I won’t mention them by name, but “oh what a feeling” of pain I endured when my ears first heard that. I had to rewind a couple of times to make sure I heard correctly.
The rule is fairly simple: A singular subject requires the singular form of a verb; a plural subject requires the plural form of the verb.
Barbara volunteers at the zoo.
Barbara and Barbara volunteer for city cleanup.
Hammock is on the 7th floor.
The Hammock offices are on the 7th floor.
That’s all elementary. You remember, right? But the take-away message today is: Prepositional phrases don’t change the rules. The word closest to the verb does not decide what form said verb should take.
The car with the four flat tires needs to be repaired.
My husband’s thoughts on dinner help me plan our weekly menus.
So here’s the simple lesson that the folks who created the car commercial missed: When you remove all prepositional phrases from the sentence, it still has to make sense.
“Its popularity HAS solidified its reputation.” Oops.
Coming soon: The problem with collective nouns, throwing “or” into the mix and singular nouns that end in “s”.