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Subject Verb Agreement Rules

Subject Verb Agreement Rules

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Published by: teacherwena on Jul 06, 2009
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06/18/2013

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Subject Verb Agreement Rules

General Rule:

In the present tense we use the third person singular inflection (-s or the be form is) if the subject refers to one entity, whether it is singular proper name, a singular common noun, a non-count noun, or a third person singular pronoun.

Third person singular inflection on verb
Examples:
 John

walks to school.  The bus stops here.  This water tastes funny.  She wants a new cellphone

No inflection on verb
Examples:
 The

Smiths walk to chuch.  These books contain good information.  I/You want a new cellphone.  We/You/They want a new cellphone

Rules for Persistently Troubleome Cases
Collective nouns my take either a singular or plural verb inflection depending on the meaning. Examples: Our school team has on all its games. Our school team have won all their games.

Some common and proper nouns that are plural in form but singular in meaning take a singular verb. Examples: This series is very interesting. Measles is a contagious disease.

Titles of books,plays,operas,films and such works – even when plural in form- take the singular verb inflection. Examples: Great Expectations was written by Dickens. Tuesdays with Morrie teaches us accepting deaths.

Nouns in sets take the singular when the noun pair is present but take the plural when pair absent – regardless of whether one pair or more is being reffered to. Examples: This pair of shoes needs new heels. These shoes need new heels.

A number of takes the plural, while the number takes the singular. Examples: A number of students have dropped in the school. The number of students in this school is 500.

Plural unit words of distance, money, and time take the singular verb inflection when entity is implied but a plural verb inflection when more than one entity is encoded in the subject. Examples: 7 years is a long time to spend on an M.A. study. 3 years (1602,1649, and 1697) are missing from this set of calendars. 2 million dollars is a lot of money. 2 dollars are on the table in the kitchen.

Arithmetical operations take the singular because they are perceived as a single numerical entity Examples; Ten divided by two is five. Two times two equals four.

Fractions and percentages take a singular verb inflection when modifying a noncount noun and the plural verb inflection when they modify a plural noun; either the singular or the plural verb inflection may be used when they modify a collective noun, depending on the speaker’s meaning. Examples: Noncount: One half of the toxic waste has escaped. Plural : Sixty-six percent of the students are satisfied with the class. Collective: Ten percent of the population of Egypt (is/are) Christians.

The quantifiers all (of), a lot of, lots of, and plenty of take singular verb agreement if the subject head noun is noncount but plural verb agreement if the subject head noun is plural. Examples: A lot of nonsense was published about that incident. A lot of people were present when it happened.

Clausal subjects are singular even if the noun referred to are plural. Example: What we need is more textbooks.

Gerund (verb + -ing) and infinitive (to + verb) subjects take singular verb. Examples: Reading books is my hobby. To forgive is divine.

Singular indefinite pronouns (each, every, and every one) as subjects use a singular verb. Example: Every student has a lunch stub.

With none as subject, use a singular verb. Example: None of the magazines is here.

With either or neither as subjects, use a singular verb. Example: Either was acceptable to me.

With correlative subjects either…or, or neither… nor, the verb agrees with the closest subject. Example: Either Bob or my cousins are going to do it.

With expletives, there and here, the verb is singular or plural depending on whether the noun phrase following the verb is singular or plural. Examples: There is a book on the table. There are a book and a pen on the table.

Exercises:
 Exercise1

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/GRAMMAR/  Exercise 2.  http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/GRAMMAR/  Exercise 3  http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/GRAMMAR/

Take a Quiz:
 Quiz

1  http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/GRAMMAR/  Quiz 2  http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/GRAMMAR/  Quiz 3  http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/GRAMMAR/

Let there be PEACE on Earth…
Make your verb agree with its subject.

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