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October 1983

Verbal Agreement

Author Affiliations

Rochester, NY

Arch Neurol. 1983;40(10):599-600. doi:10.1001/archneur.1983.04050090035003

To make a prairie it takes a clover/ And one bee," or a well-known substitute ingredient.* To make a sentence, it takes a subject and a verb, and agreement between them. "When verb and subject don't agree,/The writing don't agree with me" (D.G., Complete Poems, unpublished). Because mismatched subjects and verbs are all too frequent in manuscripts submitted to the Archives, I offer the following as a primer for authors who may be preparing a manuscript. I include one of those self-assessment quizzes that (tests/test) your syntactic skills. First, I shall quote some examples from recently received manuscripts, giving enough of each to expose its error. I begin with two by writers whose mother tongue is not English:

Mild limb ataxia on the left sided extremities were present.

When illness or injury strike...

The first sentence betrays its foreign parentage in the solecistic prepositional phrase. As for the second example

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