Here's a small collection of miscellaneous rules for grammar. Perhaps one will be something you can use in the next ten minutes.
The expression the number has a singular meaning and requires a singular verb; a number has a plural meaning and requires a plural verb.
- The number of lakes we can ski on has increased with the coming of warmer weather.
- A number of lakes are still frozen even though it is May.
When a phrase or clause serves as the subject, the verb should be singular.
- Practicing for the tournament takes all my time these days.
- Whether the decision was right or not is no longer important.
- That they will even show up is far from certain.
- Whomever you support is likely to be elected.
Exception: Clauses beginning with what may be singular or plural, according to the meaning:
- What we need is a new statement of policy. [The what clause refers to the statement; hence the verb is singular.]
- What we need are some guidelines on eligibility. [Here the what clause refers to guidelines; hence the verb is plural.]
Do not use an adverb to express a meaning already contained in the verb.
- assemble (not assemble together)
- begin (not first begin)
- cancel (not cancel out)
- convert (not convert over)
- cooperate (not cooperate together)
- refer (not refer back)
- follow (not follow after)
- repeat (not repeat again)