TOEIC Grammar

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Subject-Verb Agreement 1. Introduction Subjects must agree with verbs and pronouns must agree with antecedents. The basic rule of sentence agreement is really quite simple: A subject must agree with its verb in number. 2. Rules of Subject Verb Agreement 1. When the subject of a sentence is composed of two or more nouns or pronouns connected by and, use a plural verb.    She and her friends are at the fair. Oil and water do not mix. The cow and the pig are jumping over the moon.

2. Plural form subjects  Plural form subjects with a singular meaning take a singular verb. (e.g. news, measles, mumps, physics, etc.)    Mumps is a contagious disease. The news is on at six. Generally measles lasts about two weeks.

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Note: the word dollars is a special case. When talking about an amount of money, it requires a singular verb, but when referring to the dollars themselves, a plural verb is required.   Five dollars is a lot of money.

Plural form subjects with singular or plural meaning take a singular or plural verb, depending on meaning. (e.g. politics, economics, etc.)  Politics is an interesting subject.

In this example, politics is a single topic; therefore, the sentence has a singular verb.  The politics of the situation were complicated.

In this example, politics refers to the many aspects of the situation; therefore, the sentence has a plural verb.  Plural form subjects with a plural meaning take a plural verb. (e.g. scissors, trousers)    Those trousers are made of wool. The scissors are on the table. The pair of scissors is on the table.

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Note: In this example, the subject of the sentence is pair; therefore, the verb must agree with it. (Because scissors is the object of the preposition, scissors does not affect the number of the verb.)  Plural subjects that function as a single unit take a singular verb.    Age and experience brings wisdom. Slow and steady wins the race. Bread and butter is what they want.

3. A collective noun (danh từ tập hợp) may be treated either as singular (if the whole group is being thought of as a unit) or as plural (if the group is being regarded as a collection of individuals). Examples are: crowd, mob, team, flock, herd, army, fleet, jury, nation, family, committee, government etc.           The committee has announced its decision. (The committee is regarded as a unit.) The committee are divided on this issue. (The committee is regarded as a group of individuals.) The team is on the field. The team are changing. The class is a bright one. The class are a mixed lot. His family is living in that house. His family are living in various parts of Sydney. The jury is in the courtroom. The jury are still debating the case.

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4. Prepositional phrases between the subject and verb usually do not affect agreement.    The colors of the rainbow are beautiful. The boy at the door is my brother. The car with many riders was speeding around the curve.

5. When two or more singular nouns or pronouns are connected by or, nor, either/or, neither/nor, and not only/but also, use a singular verb.   Neither John nor Peter has any right to the property. Either the witness or the defendant was lying.

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  No prize or medal was given to the boy, though he stood first in the examination. Jessica or Christian is to blame for the accident.

6. When a compound subject contains both a singular and a plural noun or pronoun joined by or or nor, the verb should agree with the part of the subject that is nearer the verb.   The boy or his friends run every day. His friends or the boy runs every day.

7. When the subjects connected by either/or or neither/nor are of different numbers, the plural subject should be written last and it should be followed by a plural verb.    Neither the chief minister nor his colleagues have visited the site. Neither the principal nor the lecturers were present at the meeting. Either John or his parents are responsible for this.

8. When the subjects connected by either/or or neither/nor are of different persons, the verb should agree in person with the subject nearest to it. The subjects should be arranged in the proper order – the person spoken to, first; the person spoken of, second; and the speaker, last.   Neither he nor I have money to spare for this.

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Either you or John has to take the lead in this matter. 9. Titles are always singular. It doesn't matter how long the title is, what it names, or whether or not it sounds plural. As a result, a title always takes a singular verb.    The Crusades is a book that comes in two volumes. Bombay Times is my favourite newspaper. The Grapes of Wrath takes a long time to read.

10. When sentences start with “there” or “here,” the subject will always be placed after the verb, so care needs to be taken to identify it correctly. There is a problem with the balance sheet. Here are the papers you requested. Note: In here is – here are / there is – there are constructions, look for the subject after the verb and choose a singular (is) or a plural (are) verb to agree with the subject. 11. Sometimes creating a question will cause the subject to follow the verb as well. Here, identify the subject and then choose the verb that agrees with it (singular or plural).  What is the problem?

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   What are the problems? How has the flower grown this quickly? How have the flowers grown this quickly?

12. Do not be misled by a phrase that comes between the subject and the verb. The verb agrees with the subject, not with a noun or pronoun in the phrase.      One of the boxes is open The people who listen to that music are few. The team captain, as well as his players, is anxious. The book, including all the chapters in the first section, is boring. The woman with all the dogs walks down my street.

13. Indefinite pronouns as a subject  Some indefinite pronouns each, each one, either, neither, everyone, everybody, anybody, anyone, nobody, somebody, someone, and no one are singular and require a singular verb.        Each of these hot dogs is juicy. Everybody knows Mr. Jones. Either is correct. One of my friends is a journalist. Nobody has arrived yet. Both boys were given scholarships.

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The following indefinite pronouns always take plural verbs: both, few, many, several, others    Many have answered the invitation for Friday evening. A few are not coming at all Several indicate that they will be late.

The indefinite pronouns all, any, more, most, none, and some can be singular or plural, depending on how they are used.  Some of the debt has been paid off. (Some refers to debt. Therefore, some is singular and takes a singular verb.)

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 Some of the debts are still outstanding. (Some refers to debts. Therefore, some is plural and takes a plural verb.)     All the lights were out. All cheese contains fat. None of his friends have come forward to help him. None of these conditions is acceptable to us.

14. Expressions such as with, together with, including, accompanied by, in addition to, or as well do not change the number of the subject. If the subject is singular, the verb is too.   The President, accompanied by his wife, is traveling to India. All of the books, including yours, are in that box.

15. A relative pronoun ("who," "which," or "that") used as a subject of an adjective clause takes either a singular or plural verb in order to agree with its antecedent.  Mary is one of the students who have done honor to the college.

(Adjective clause modifies the plural noun "students." "Students" is the antecedent of "who." In the above sentence Mary is just one of the students. So at least two students have done honor to the college.

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Compare that to:  Mary is the only one of our students who has achieved national recognition.

In this case, "one," not "students," is the antecedent of "who." Compare to the sentence above:  Of all our students, Mary is the only one who has achieved national recognition.

Note: To avoid subject-verb agreement errors, you should  Identify who / that / which clauses immediately. Anyone who sees his or her friends runs to greet them.  Locate the true sentence subject and choose a verb that agrees with it. Anyone who sees his or her friends runs to greet them. 16. Others cases  With one of those ________ who, use a plural verb.

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 Hannah is one of those who like to read comic books

The above example implies that others besides Hannah like to read comic books. Therefore, the plural verb is the correct form to use.  With the only one of those ________who, use a singular verb.  Hannah is the only one of those people who likes to read comic books.

The above example implies that no one else except for Hannah likes to read comic books. Therefore, the singular verb is the correct for to use.  With the number of _______, use a singular verb.   The number of volunteers grows each year.

With a number of _______, use a plural verb.  A number if people grow tomatoes each summer.

With every ______ and many a ________, use a singular verb.   Every man, woman, and child participates in the lifeboat drill, Many a child dreams about becoming famous one day.

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