Subject-verb agreement is a notoriously tricky problem. As Geoffrey Pullum, a professor of linguistics at the University of Edinburgh, pointed out in a Lingua Franca blog post, it’s easy to say that verbs should agree with their subjects, but it’s a lot harder to draw up a foolproof list of rules that one can follow to ensure grammatical agreement. There are simply too many gray areas and exceptions to the rules.
The Copyediting team is neck deep in putting together our October–November issue for you. One of the great things about having several copyeditors working on the newsletter is what we learn from each other. Here are two problems we came across this issue.
Outside of vs. Outside
When outside is used as a preposition, the argument goes, of does not need to follow it. As in this sentence from Ask the Editor: