Explain Notional Agreement

As a copy editor, it`s important to understand notional agreement, a concept that has the potential to improve your writing, making it clearer and more effective for your audience.

Notional agreement is a grammatical term that refers to the agreement between a subject and a verb based on the sense or meaning of the sentence, rather than on the standard rules of grammar.

In simpler terms, notional agreement means that the subject and verb in a sentence must match in meaning, even if they don`t match in number or gender.

For example, consider the sentence, « The team is playing their best game tonight. » In this sentence, « team » is singular, but « their » is plural, which violates the traditional agreement rules of English grammar.

However, this sentence is an example of notional agreement. Although « team » is singular, the sentence is referring to multiple players on the team, so « their » accurately reflects the collective action of the team members.

Another example is the sentence, « The committee has made their decision. » In this sentence, « committee » is singular, but again, « their » is plural. However, here the notional agreement is justified because although the committee is a group of people, it is treated as a single unit making a joint decision.

Notional agreement is used more frequently in spoken language than in written language, where it`s generally considered more formal to use grammatically correct agreement. However, there are benefits to incorporating notional agreement in your writing, especially if you`re writing for a non-specialist audience or trying to communicate complex concepts.

Notional agreement can help to create a more natural flow of language and make the writing more accessible to readers. It also helps to avoid awkward or stilted language that would otherwise result from trying to adhere too strictly to grammatically correct agreement.

In conclusion, notional agreement is a valuable tool for writers to improve their language while making it more effective for their audience. By understanding notional agreement, writers can create more natural and accessible text, and communicate complex concepts in a clearer and more easily understandable way.

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