Subject-verb agreement is a fundamental rule of the English language. It states that the subject of a sentence must agree in number with the verb. In African American Vernacular English (AAVE), however, subject-verb agreement can sometimes be different than in Standard English.
AAVE is a unique dialect of English that is spoken by many African Americans. It has its own grammar, syntax, and vocabulary. Although it is often perceived as slang or incorrect English, AAVE is a legitimate dialect with its own rules.
One of the differences between AAVE and Standard English is subject-verb agreement. In AAVE, the verb is often not conjugated to match the subject in number. Instead, the verb remains the same regardless of whether the subject is singular or plural.
For example, in Standard English, the sentence “He walks to school” would become “They walk to school” when referring to more than one person. However, in AAVE, the same sentence would be “He walk to school” and “They walk to school” would be expressed the same way.
This is because AAVE follows a rule called “zero marking.” This means that certain grammatical markers, such as “-s” for third-person singular verbs, are not used. This rule applies to other aspects of AAVE grammar as well, such as possessive pronouns and negation.
It is important to note that AAVE is a legitimate dialect of English and should not be viewed as incorrect or uneducated. It is simply a different way of speaking that follows its own set of rules.
However, it is also important to recognize that AAVE is often stigmatized and not given the same status as Standard English. This can lead to discrimination and prejudice against those who speak AAVE. As copy editors, it is our responsibility to recognize and respect the diversity of language and avoid perpetuating harmful stereotypes.
In conclusion, subject-verb agreement in AAVE follows its own set of rules, which may differ from Standard English. It is important to recognize and respect the diversity of language and avoid stigmatizing any dialect as incorrect or uneducated. As copy editors, we have a responsibility to ensure that all voices are represented and respected in our work.