Grammar Tip – Subject and Verb Agreement

Debbie’s question: “Should ‘is’ or ‘are’ be used when an inserted phrase changes the subject from singular to plural? For example, if I wrote ‘the version accessed (and features exposed)’ would the verb be ‘is’ or ‘are’?”
BizWritingTip response: This question relates to subject and verb agreement. In the example, the subject “version” is singular. Therefore, the verb is singular – “is.” If “and” appears in the subject, the verb must be plural.

Examples
The version accessed is determined by the user credentials. (Singular subject = singular verb)
The version accessed and the features exposed are determined by the user credentials. (Compound subject = plural verb)

If there are any intervening words in a sentence, ignore them when selecting the verb. This rule also applies to phrases surrounded by commas or parentheses.

Examples
Her background in banking and mortgage applications makes her an excellent candidate. (The verb —makes — is singular because the subject — background — is singular.)
The salesperson, as well as two of his colleagues, has asked to meet with us. (The subject and verb are singular. Material between two commas does not impact the verb.)
The version accessed (and features exposed) is determined by the user credentials. (The verb is singular because the subject — version — is singular. The material in the parentheses must be ignored.)

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