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Subject | Verb Agreement Check-Up Self Assessment | Answers | Rules

Identify the subject and choose the correct verb in each of the following sentence. Check your answers with the answer key linked on the toolbar. Discuss your errors with a CWC Tutor to check your understanding of your error patterns. Review the rules that guide subject / verb agreement.

Self-Assessment Quiz 1. Each of the men (were/was) given ten minutes to speak to the president of the company. 2. Beyond the river (is/are) a dress store and a shoe store. 3. Here (is/are) your notebook and dictionary. 4. Neither of the corporations (has/have) received the necessary state charter yet. 5. My entire supply of checks (was/were) missing. 6. Physics (is/are) taken by many students to complete their science requirement. 7. a natural monopoly (is/are) public utilities. 8. Neither of the unions (has/have) studied the working conditions yet. 9. sitting in the chair by the file cabinets (is/are) the secretary. 10. the data (was/were) published by the company. 11. The cost of goods (vary/varies) greatly in the different states. 12. Where (is/are) one of the letters from Brown and Company? 13. Neither of the salesmen (wants/want) to help me. 14. One of the trade marks (has/have) not been registered yet. 15. Five percent of the profits (is/are) to be distributed to the stockholders. 16. Food tests taken on Friday (confirm/confirms) my original diagnosis. 17. Neither the employers nor the union (desire/desires) a strike vote. 18. Neither the size nor the color of the envelopes (are/is) correct. 19. Each of the loans (has/have) been recalled by the bank. 20. The news of the economic decline (has/have) been upsetting. 21. Everyone who bought stocks last year (has/have) hoped to see an increase in their value. 22. The Seattle Times (is/are) sold widely. 23. Neither the rain nor the dropping temperatures (suggest/suggests) good weather over the weekend. 24. One of the children who (play/plays) soccer so very well is sitting on the sidelines. 25. The team (have/has) turned in their uniforms for the season.

Answer Key - Individual Subject-Verb Activity Note: Subjects are in green and bolded; and the verbs are blue. 1. Each of the men (was) given ten minutes to speak to the president of the company. 2. Beyond the river (are) a dress store and a shoe store. 3. Here (are) your notebook and dictionary. 4. Neither of the corporations (has) received the necessary state charter yet.

5. My entire supply of checks (was) missing. 6. Physics (is) taken by many students to complete their science requirement. 7. A natural monopoly (is) public utilities. 8. Neither of the unions (has) studied the working conditions yet. 9. Sitting in the chair by the file cabinets (is) the secretary. 10. The data (were) published by the company. 11. The cost of goods (varies) greatly in the different states. 12. Where (is) one of the letters from Brown and Company? 13. None of the salesmen (want) to help me. 14. One of the trade marks (has) not been registered yet. 15. Five percent of the profits (is) to be distributed to the stockholders. 16. Food tests taken on Friday (confirm) my original diagnosis. 17. Neither the employers nor the union (desires) a strike vote. 18. Neither the size nor the color of the envelopes (is) correct. 19. Each of the loans (has) been recalled by the bank. 20. The news of the economic decline (has) been upsetting. 21. Everyone who bought stocks last year (has) hoped to see an increase in their value. 22. The Seattle Times (is) sold widely. 23. Neither the rain nor the dropping temperatures (suggest) good weather over the weekend. 24. One of the children who (play) soccer so very well is sitting on the sidelines. 25. The team (have) turned in their uniforms for the season.

Rules that Govern Subject/Verb Agreement When we use the term agreement, we mean that a subject and its verb agree as to their "number." Number refers to whether a subject and verb are singular or plural. Singular means that a subject's or a verb's number is one. Plural means a subject or verb's number is more than one. A single rule governs the agreement of subjects and verbs: A singular subject takes a singular verb; and a plural verb takes a plural verb. The confusion arises when one fails to accurately identify the subject and/or when its number is determined by additional rules. Consequently, some additional patterns need to be recognized in order to choose the correct verb.

S-V Pattern 1: Indefinite pronouns must be correctly identified as singular or plural:


Singular Indefinite Pronouns: each, either, one, everyone, everybody, no one, nobody, anyone, someone, neither, and somebody. Indefinite Example: Everyone is attending the concert. Plural Indefinite Pronouns:

both, few, many, others, and several Plural Indefinite Pronoun: A few have attended the concert.

Variable Indefinite Pronouns: [sometimes singular and sometimes plural depending on what follows them in a prepositional phrase]: some, most, all, none, any EX: All of the students were present. [All is plural becausestudents is plural.] All of the problem was of my own making. [All is singular because problem is singular.] Variable Indefinite (plural) Example: Some of the students are attending the concert. Variable Indefinite (singular) Example: Some of the assignmentis due today.

S-V Pattern 2: A sentence can be inverted, placing the subject at the end. This positioning may cause confusion about which word is the subject. [Note subject and correct verb are in colored text.] Example: There are / is four concerts this season. Example: Under the desk is /are the lost ball. S-V Pattern 3: Neither/nor and either/or patterns require that the writer choose a verb to match the number of the subject following the nor or theor. [Note subject and correct verb are in colored text.] Example: Neither the teacher nor the students are / is present today. Example: Neither the students nor the teacher is / are present today.

S-V Pattern 4: A series of singular subjects requires a plural verb choice. [Note subject and correct verb are in colored text.] Example: Bananas, oranges, and apples are / is required in the recipe. Example: A cup and a spoon were set / was set on the table. S-V Pattern 5: Fractions or percentages as subjects require the noun in the prepositional phrase following them to determine the verb number. [Note subject and correct verb are in colored text.] Example: Five percent of the students pass /passes the first mastery test. Example: Five percent of the situation is / are Bob's fault. S-V Pattern 6: Phrases separating the subject and verb may cause confusion about whether the subject is plural or singular. They need to be disregarded when choosing the verb. [Note subject and correct verb are in colored text.] Example: The teacher, along with her students, is going/ are going to the concert. S-V Pattern 7: Some subjects, while in plural form, function as singular. Example: Measles is a contagious disease. Example: The New York Times is a popular newspaper S-V Pattern 8: When the verb is chosen for a indefinite pronoun in a dependent relative clause, it must match the pronoun's referent (that is, the word it refers to in the sentence). Example: She is one of the secretaries whowant to learn new technologies. S-V Pattern 9: Nouns express quantities of amount--time, money, weight, length, etc.--require singular verbs when thought of as a unit. Example: Twenty-four years is a long time to work at a single job.

S-V Pattern 10: Collective nouns--faculty, staff, band, committee, Congress, flock, herd, team, jury, audience, etc.-can be viewed as singular or plural depending on the meaning expressed. Example: The band is playing its music. Example: The band are wearing their new uniforms.

Quiz
1: Of all university courses, mathematics probably _____ the most fear. produce produces 2: Living in big cities almost always _____ stress because of traffic jams, too few parking spaces, and too many people. cause causes 3: The way of life in small villages far from big cities _____ mostly quiet because there are few people. is are 4: In many countries, governments _____ the mass media through censorship. control controls 5: Sometimes a government covertly _____ the general population by releasing disinformation through the mass media. influence influences 6: President Obama, along with his support staff and news reporters, _____ many key cities around the world every year. visit visits 7: Least considered in the latest bombing campaign _____ the innocent victims. was were 8: Each cat and each dog in this animal shelter _____ eventually placed in a good home. is are 9: The deer standing silently next to the large tree _____ not seen by the two hunters. was were 10: Neither the students nor the teacher _____ able to find the solution immediately. was were
Grade Quiz

Basic Rule
The basic rule states that a singular subject takes a singular verb, while a plural subject takes a plural verb. NOTE: The trick is in knowing whether the subject is singular or plural. The next trick is recognizing a singular or plural verb. Hint: Verbs do not form their plurals by adding an s as nouns do. In order to determine which verb is singular and which one is plural, think of which verb you would use with he or she and which verb you would use with they. Example: talks, talk Which one is the singular form? Which word would you use with he? We say, "He talks." Therefore, talks is singular. We say, "They talk." Therefore, talk is plural.

Rule 1
Two singular subjects connected by or or nor require a singular verb. Example: My aunt or my uncle is arriving by train today.

Rule 2
Two singular subjects connected by either/or or neither/nor require a singular verb as in Rule 1. Examples: Neither Juan nor Carmen is available. Either Kiana or Casey is helping today with stage decorations.

Rule 3
When I is one of the two subjects connected by either/or or neither/nor, put it second and follow it with the singular verb am. Example: Neither she nor I am going to the festival.

Rule 4
When a singular subject is connected by or or nor to a plural subject, put the plural subject last and use a plural verb. Example: The serving bowl or the plates go on that shelf.

Rule 5
When a singular and plural subject are connected by either/or or neither/nor, put the plural subject last and use a plural verb. Example: Neither Jenny nor the others are available.

Rule 6
As a general rule, use a plural verb with two or more subjects when they are connected by and. Example: A car and a bike are my means of transportation.

Rule 7
Sometimes the subject is separated from the verb by words such as along with, as well as, besides, or not. Ignore these expressions when determining whether to use a singular or plural verb. Examples: The politician, along with the newsmen, is expected shortly. Excitement, as well as nervousness, is the cause of her shaking.

Rule 8
The pronouns each, everyone, every one, everybody, anyone, anybody, someone, andsomebody are singular and require singular verbs. Do not be misled by what follows of. Examples: Each of the girls sings well. Every one of the cakes is gone. NOTE: Everyone is one word when it means everybody. Every one is two words when the meaning is each one.

Rule 9
With words that indicate portionspercent, fraction, part, majority, some, all, none, remainder , and so forth look at the noun in your of phrase (object of the preposition) to determine whether to use a singular or plural verb. If the object of the preposition is singular, use a singular verb. If the object of the preposition is plural, use a plural verb. Examples: Fifty percent of the pie has disappeared. Pie is the object of the preposition of. Fifty percent of the pies have disappeared. Pies is the object of the preposition. One-third of the city is unemployed. One-third of the people are unemployed. NOTE: Hyphenate all spelled-out fractions.

All of the pie is gone. All of the pies are gone. Some of the pie is missing. Some of the pies are missing. None of the garbage was picked up. None of the sentences were punctuated correctly. Of all her books, none have sold as well as the first one. NOTE: Apparently, the SAT testing service considers none as a singular word only. However, according to Merriam Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, "Clearly none has been both singular and plural since Old English and still is. The notion that it is singular only is a myth of unknown origin that appears to have arisen in the 19th century. If in context it seems like a singular to you, use a singular verb; if it seems like a plural, use a plural verb. Both are acceptable beyond serious criticism" (p. 664).

Rule 10
The expression the number is followed by a singular verb while the expression a number is followed by a plural verb. Examples: The number of people we need to hire is thirteen. A number of people have written in about this subject.

Rule 11
When either and neither are subjects, they always take singular verbs. Examples: Neither of them is available to speak right now. Either of us is capable of doing the job.

Rule 12
The words here and there have generally been labeled as adverbs even though they indicate place. In sentences beginning with here or there, the subject follows the verb. Examples: There are four hurdles to jump. There is a high hurdle to jump.

Rule 13
Use a singular verb with sums of money or periods of time. Examples: Ten dollars is a high price to pay. Five years is the maximum sentence for that offense.

Rule 14
Sometimes the pronoun who, that, or which is the subject of a verb in the middle of the sentence. The pronouns who, that, and which become singular or plural according to the noun directly in front of them. So, if that noun is singular, use a singular verb. If it is plural, use a plural verb. Examples: Salma is the scientist who writes/write the reports. The word in front of who is scientist, which is singular. Therefore, use the singular verb writes. He is one of the men who does/do the work. The word in front of who is men, which is plural. Therefore, use the plural verb do.

Rule 15
Collective nouns such as team and staff may be either singular or plural depending on their use in the sentence. Examples: The staff is in a meeting. Staff is acting as a unit here. The staff are in disagreement about the findings. The staff are acting as separate individuals in this example. The sentence would read even better as: The staff members are in disagreement about the findings.