I take issue with writers who have trouble keeping their subjects parallel with their verbs. Granted I do it too sometimes when I’m sloppy, but there are more specific problems I’d like to address. For example, I know it’s common practice these days to say “that band are playing tonight.” How about when referring to people we keep it plural, but when referring to the singular nature of “the band,” we go singular?
Part of what helps keep my subject-verb agreements straight is proofreading. I’m not going to go on and on about the merits of re-reading what you’ve written, because as every writer knows, it’s almost more important to edit than to write, but I will suggest that some of you writers read the Times’ After Deadline column, which I find to be a nice take on good and bad journalism. It’s fascinating how bad some of the writing is, not to sound pretentious and say that I’m better than most of the journalists on the staff, but you’d think that as a writer for the New York Times, you’d know to say “a couple of hundred.”