And S-VD reigns supreme!
thus: “The officer in charge assistant representative (sic) stated that like most African countries, Swaziland has a very youthful population, with about 34 per cent of the population between 10 and 24, which according to UNFPA translates to over 400 000 young Swazis. Thwala-Tembe said if proper investment in their education and health are made the country can achieve its full potential for economic growth.”
If you peruse the second sentence in that paragraph, you will find one case of S-VD. The verb in that sentence is “are.” But what exactly is the subject of the sentence? What has happened here is very easy to see. The writer has taken the two elements, “their education and health,” as the subject, hence, the plural verb, “are.”
But that is wrong. The simple subject of the sentence is “investment,” which is singular. This is the element that must guide the nature of the verb, not the complete subject, which is, “proper investment in their education and health.”
Accordingly, the sentence needs to be revised, thus: “Thwala-Tembe said if proper investment in their education and health is made, the country can achieve its full potential for economic growth.”
The S-VD in the following sentence is quite glaring, I daresay: “Ramaphosa’s camp believe the story was planted and that the emails have been leaked and circulated to coincide with what many believe would be the beginning of the nominations.” This is the sixth paragraph of the top story in the City Press of September 3, 2017 with the headline, IT’S OPEN SEASON FOR THE ANC’S DIRTY TRICKS. September 17, 2017
As you can see, “Ramaphosa’s camp,” which is the subject of the sentence, is singular, but the verb, “believe,” is plural. This is a very glaring case of S-VD because the verb follows its subject immediately. The error should be righted, accordingly: “Ramaphosa’s camp believes the story was planted…”
On August 17, 2017 the lead story in The Star bore the headline, MUGABE’S R45M SA PAD.
To the headline is an interrogatory rider which reads: “Is Zim first lady securing her future?” Here is the first sentence of the second paragraph of the story reads: “The news come against the background of a national outrage over allegations she assaulted a 20-year old Joburg model she found with her two sons at a hotel on Sunday.”
Quite a number of words do masquerade as plural in number; but they are, indeed, singular. The word “news” is one of such lexical masquerades! Never be misled to dance to the tune of this masquerade by using a plural verb after it.
The S-VD needs to be corrected by revising the sentence, thus: “The news COMES against the background of a national outrage over allegations she assaulted a 20-year old Joburg model she found with her two sons at a hotel on Sunday.”
You can find exactly the same error in the following sentence: “Thursday, this week marked a painful day when the whole world stood still, wondering whether the news from Paris WERE true or false.”
This is the opening sentence in an opinion piece with the title, TEARS FOR PRINCESS DIANA 20 YEARS ON, Times of Swaziland, September3, 2017.
The S-VD, as you can see, has been cast in capital letters. “News,” to reiterate, is a lexical masquerade: It looks like a plural word, but it actually singular in number. Never use a plural verb after it.
Maybe, instead of talking about SVD reigning supreme, we should talk about lexical masquerades, especially, “news,” misleading supremely! Check this out: “The difference between news media and other forms of media is that the former convinces us that news are not a form of entertainment, but something far more crucially- important information (sic) that we consume in order to better understand our world, as opposed to the pure, macabre entertainment we associate with other forms of media.”
That is an excerpt from a feature in the Swazi Observer of May 3, 2017, one titled, THE ROLE OF NEWS MEDIA.
There you can see the lexical masquerade, “news,” at its beguiling best! Come on, never fall for it! “Never be led to say, “News ARE not a form of entertainment.” This is S-VD par excellence! The correct thing to say is: “News IS not a form of entertainment.”
Let me highlight the culpable elements in the following sentence, so that you can see the S-VD, without much ado.
“If there ever was doubt that our nation is facing a leadership crisis, EVENTS surrounding the charging of Finance Minister Pravin Gordham HAS put paid to them.” This is the first sentence in a commentary in The Star of October 25, 2016, with the title, “Our country is in a leadership crisis.”
You can readily see the two partners in crime: EVENTS and HAS! A plausible explanation for this error, methinks, is the fact that the subject of the sentence, “events,” has been separated from the verb, “has,” by a long phrase. Besides, the phrase contains the gerund or participial noun, “charging,” which is singular.
All that notwithstanding, we must be able to determine the correct verb that should follow the subject of our sentence. The plural subject, “events,” can only be followed by a plural verb, “have.” Accordingly, the sentence should be revised to correct the S-VD, thus: “If there ever was doubt that our nation is facing a leadership crisis, EVENTS surrounding the charging of Finance Minister Pravin Gordham HAVE put paid to them.”
The following are two bullet points from an article in the Times of Swaziland SUNDAY, July 24, 2016, with the title, TRUTH ABOUT DEMOCRACY. First bullet point: “True democracy respect the fundamental rights and the universality thereof. Second bullet point: “True democracy respect the doctrine of separation of powers.”
It is quite easy to see the error. In both cases the singular subject, “democracy,” has taken on the plural verb, “respect.” Democracy should take on the singular verb, “respects.”
What is true of errors, generally, is equally true of the error of SubjectVerb Disagreement, particularly: We cannot eliminate it.
But we can attenuate the reign of SV-D by always crosschecking the subject in our sentence with its verb, with particular regard to the nature of the noun that forms our subject.