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Grammar agreement rules:

A summary of the chapter 24 handout on agreement:


For further examples and practice exercises, see the booklet.

1) Intervening phrases:

The number of the subject is not changed by intervening phrases such


as together with, as well as, in addition to, accompanied by, along
with.

2) Indefinite pronouns:

The following indefinite pronouns are always singular:


Each, neither, either, one, no one, everyone, everybody, anyone,
anybody, someone, somebody

The following indefinite pronouns are always plural:


Several, few, many, both

The following indefinite pronouns can be either singular or plural:


Some, any, all, most

3) Compound subjects

Compound subjects joined by either/or, neither/nor, or or take the form


of the subject closest to the verb.

Example: Neither the coach nor the managers were prepared for the
strike.
Neither the managers nor the coach was prepared for the strike.

4) Inverted sentence structure

Be careful with here, there and introductory prepositional phrases.


They create sentences with an inverted sentence structure. One has to
look after the verb to determine whether the subject is singular or
plural.

Example: Along the table beside the wall were my keys. [Keys is the
subject of the sentence.]

Example: Here is the key to the master bedroom.

Questions also have inverted sentence structure:


Where are the keys to the house?

5) Collective nouns may be singular or plural, depending on whether


the subjects in the group are acting together or separately.

Collective nouns:

army crowd orchestra


audience flock public
class group swarm
club herd team
committee jury troop

6) Expressions stating amount (time, money, measurement, weight,


volume, fraction) are usually singular when the amount is considered
as a unit.

When the amount is considered as a number of separate units, a plural


verb is used.

7) The title of a book or the name of an organization or country, even


when plural in form, usually takes a singular verb.

8) A few nouns, such as mumps, measles, civics, economics,


mathematics, physics are singular. Athletics, acoustics, gymnastics,
tactics are more often plural than singular. Scissors, trousers, pants,
glasses are always plural.

9) When the subject and the predicate nominative are different in


number, the verb agrees with the subject, not with the predicate
nominative.

Example: The last act featured was the singers and dancers.

10) Every or many a before a word or series of words is followed by a


singular verb.

11) Verbs in clauses that follow one of those are almost always plural.

Example: This is one of those assignments that require research in the


library.

If one adds the only to the phrase, the clause becomes singular.
Example: This is the only one of those assignments that requires
research in the library.

12) The number is singular; a number is plural.

13) Pronouns must agree in number with their antecedents.