Subject-verb agreement is a cornerstone of good writing. It ensures that your sentence conveys your intended meaning and is easy to read. The rule is simple: the verb of a sentence should agree with the subject in terms of number and person. However, there is one exception to this rule that can cause confusion even among experienced writers: the phrase “all of”.

When we use “all of” to modify a noun phrase, it can be tricky to determine the subject of the sentence. Is it the entire noun phrase or just the head noun? For example:

– All of the students in the class are going on the field trip.

– All of the money in the bank was stolen.

In the first sentence, the subject is the students, so we use the plural verb “are”. In the second sentence, the subject is the money, which is a singular noun, so we use the singular verb “was”. This is straightforward enough, but what if the noun phrase is plural? Consider these examples:

– All of the books on the shelf needs to be rearranged.

– All of the cars in the parking lot are new.

In the first sentence, it may seem like “books” is the subject, but actually it is “all”, which is singular. Therefore, we use the singular verb “needs”. In the second sentence, “cars” is the subject, so we use the plural verb “are”.

To avoid confusion, it is helpful to mentally remove the phrase “all of” when determining the subject of a sentence. This will make it clear whether the subject is singular or plural, and which verb to use. For example:

– The students in the class are going on the field trip. (plural verb)

– The money in the bank was stolen. (singular verb)

– The books on the shelf need to be rearranged. (plural verb)

– The cars in the parking lot are new. (plural verb)

In summary, when using “all of” to modify a noun phrase, be sure to identify the subject of the sentence and choose the correct verb form based on its number (singular or plural). By following this simple rule, you can ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and easy to read.

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