Agreement in Legal Writing

Agreement in Legal Writing: A Guide for Copy Editors

Legal writing is a critical component of the legal profession, and it requires unique skills and techniques to ensure its accuracy and clarity. The use of consistent and correct grammar and agreement in legal writing is particularly crucial as it helps to communicate the legal meaning and interpretation precisely. As a professional, it is essential to understand the fundamentals of agreement in legal writing. This article will guide you on how to apply effective agreement in legal writing.

Singular vs. Plural

The first step in ensuring proper agreement is distinguishing between singular and plural nouns. In legal writing, the singular noun is used to refer to one person, place, or thing, while the plural noun is used to refer to more than one thing. For example, the singular noun would be “the party,” while the plural noun would be “the parties.” Therefore, when using a singular noun, ensure that the verb, pronoun, and any related modifiers agree with the noun in number, gender, and person.

Consistent Tense

Another important aspect of agreement in legal writing is maintaining the consistency of tense. Tense refers to the time frame of the verb used in a sentence. Legal writing typically uses the present tense to express the law`s current state or a future event`s certainty. It is essential to ensure that the tense is consistent throughout the document to avoid confusion and ambiguity.

Agreement of Subject and Verb

One of the most critical elements of agreement in legal writing is the subject and verb agreement. The subject of a sentence is what the sentence is about, while the verb is the action that the subject performs. In legal writing, it is essential to ensure that the subject and verb agree in number and person. For instance, if the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular, and if the subject is plural, the verb should be plural as well.

Agreement of Pronoun and Antecedent

Pronouns are words that replace nouns. In legal writing, pronouns are used frequently to avoid repetition. A pronoun is said to agree with its antecedent when they both match in gender, number, and person. In the sentence “The employee filed a complaint because he was not paid,” “he” is the pronoun, and “the employee” is the antecedent. The pronoun “he” agrees with “the employee” in gender, number, and person.


Proper grammar and agreement in legal writing are crucial for clear and effective communication. As a professional, you should ensure consistency and accuracy of the language used in legal documents. Always check for consistency of tense, subject-verb agreement, and pronoun-antecedent agreement. These small details can make a big difference in the meaning and interpretation of a legal document.