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Monday, April 28, 2008

Criminal Sentence 5: Subjects and Verbs

Have you ever been washing your hair in the shower and noticed a grammar error on your shampoo bottle? Yep, happened to me this morning.
"Lively whipped bubbles along with a nourishing Botanical blend of Allantoin, Chamomile, Rosemary, Nettle and Nature's own gentle cleanser, Soapbark, adds incredible softness."
This is a classic subject-verb agreement problem. I wrote about this in one of my Writer's Digest articles, and Grammar Girl recently used my column on her podcast ( Here, the subject is "bubbles" and the verb is erroneously "adds." It should be "add" because "bubbles" is a plural subject. The copy writer made this error because there's a lot of what I call stuff in the way. All that stuff about herbs confused the writer. If you take all that away, you can easily tell there's an error: "Lively whipped bubbles adds incredible softness."


Michelle said...

Hi Bonnie,

I am having trouble determining the subject in the following sentences, so I'm not sure which is correct.

My favourite part of these muffins is the top.
My favourite part of these muffins are the tops.

Also, could you use "their" instead of "the"?

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Hi, Michelle.
Try taking away the prepositional phrase (of these muffins). Then you'll see that "is" works best (My favorite part is the top).
You could say "their tops" but it does sound a bit odd.
You might consider rewording the sentence: I like the top part of these muffins the best. You always have many choices about how to phrase your sentence, so consider all your options and pick the best way that works in a particular case.

Delighted Scribbler said...

Maybe you can answer my question on each:

BTW, I really enjoyed Mind Your Apostrophes in Writer's Digest this month.

putra saburai said...

Is it a correct sentence??
"I just realized that that that is written in the sentence is ungrammatical."

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Putra, that is definitely not correct.