Sub verb agreement


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.


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 orneither/nor, put the plural subject last and use a plural verb. Example: Neither Jenny nor the others are available.

someone. Every one of the cakes is gone. The pronouns each. None of the sentences were punctuated correctly. Sometimes the subject is separated from the verb by words such as along with. Rule 8. besides. NOTE: Hyphenate all spelled-out fractions. Pies is the object of the preposition. majority. If the object of the preposition is plural. All of the pie is gone. One-third of the city is unemployed. NOTE: Everyone is one word when it means everybody. Pie is the object of the preposition of. along with the newsmen. or not. Examples: Fifty percent of the pie has disappeared. Rule 7. All of the pies are gone. use a plural verb with two or more subjects when they are connected by and. everyone. and somebody are singular and require singular verbs. remainder. use a singular verb. If the object of the preposition is singular. One-third of the people are unemployed. Example: A car and a bike are my means of transportation. anyone. is expected shortly. Examples: Each of the girls sings well. everybody.Every one is two words when the meaning is each one. Some of the pies are missing. 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. Ignore these expressions when determining whether to use a singular or plural verb. With words that indicate portions—percent. Some of the pie is missing. some. As a general rule. is the cause of her shaking. all. fraction.Rule 6. anybody. use a plural verb. None of the garbage was picked up. Excitement. Examples: The politician. Do not be misled by what follows of. as well as. . as well as nervousness. none. every one. Rule 9. Fifty percent of the pies have disappeared. part.

"Clearly none has been both singular and plural since Old English and still is. So. or which is the subject of a verb in the middle of the sentence. Therefore. Examples: There are four hurdles to jump. the subject follows the verb. Either of us is capable of doing the job. If it is plural. Sometimes the pronoun who. Rule 12. they always take singular verbs. use the singular verb writes. When either and neither are subjects. use a singular verb. which is plural. The word in front of who is scientist. If in context it seems like a singular to you. Rule 10. Examples: The number of people we need to hire is thirteen. use a plural verb. none have sold as well as the first one. In sentences beginning with here or there. use a singular verb. However. Examples: Ten dollars is a high price to pay. the SAT testing service considers none as a singular word only. The notion that it is singular only is a myth of unknown origin that appears to have arisen in the 19th century. The pronouns who. Therefore. He is one of the men who does/do the work. that.Of all her books. and which become singular or plural according to the noun directly in front of them. that. A number of people have written in about this subject. NOTE: Apparently. Five years is the maximum sentence for that offense. Both are acceptable beyond serious criticism" (p. . The word in front of who is men. Rule 14. Use a singular verb with sums of money or periods of time. use the plural verb do. The expression the number is followed by a singular verb while the expression a number is followed by a plural verb. use a plural verb. according to Merriam Webster's Dictionary of English Usage. Rule 13. Rule 11. Examples: Salma is the scientist who writes/write the reports. The words here and there have generally been labeled as adverbs even though they indicate place. 664). which is singular. if that noun is singular. There is a high hurdle to jump. if it seems like a plural. Examples: Neither of them is available to speak right now.

Staff is acting as a unit here.Rule 15. 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. . 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.

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