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The first step in making sure your subjects and verbs agree is to identify the subject of the sentence.

For each subject, decide whether it is countable or uncountable. If the subject is countable, decide whether it is singular or plural.

The cat chases the mouse. The cats chase the mouse.
plural +s plural -s

singular singular -s +s

1. Singular subjects joined by the word and are generally plural. Both the technician and the manager are responsible for the error.

2. Indefinite pronouns (someone, anyone, noone, anybody, somebody, nobody, one, either, neither) usually take a singular verb. Nobody likes to be scolded by the employer.

3. Nouns that are preceded by a quantifier (some, any, all, most) can be singular or plural. This depends on whether the noun is countable or uncountable. Some of the policies were rejected whilst others were approved. (policies is a countable noun) Some of the research was conducted at the University of Melbourne. (research is an uncountable noun)

4. After a subject joined by eitheror, neithernor, or not onlybut also, the verb tends to agree with the subject nearest to it. Neither the lecturer nor the students want to reschedule the class. (want agrees with students) Either the wives or the husband agrees to take turn taking care the cats.

5. There is and there are agree with the noun that follows. There is flexibility in this kind of management structure. (flexibility is an uncountable noun) There are many advantages to this kind of management structure.(advantages is plural noun)

Examples of common errors 1. Comprehensive planning and following a budget is essential for financial success.

Correct version and explanation Comprehensive planning and following a budget are essential for financial success. Singular subjects joined by and require the plural form of the verb to be (are). Nobody expects to fail when they start a business.

2. Nobody expect to fail when they start a business.

Indefinite pronouns require a singular verb.

Examples of common errors 3. Neither China nor Japan wish to enter into the agreement.

Correct version and explanation Neither China nor Japan wishes to enter into the agreement. Japan is the nearest part of the subject so the form of the verb is singular.

4. There is many questions to be considered here.

There are many questions to be considered here.

There is agrees with the noun that follows, questions.

Examples of common errors

Correct version and explanation

5. All necessary equipment- including two Titanium Graphics 2000V Visual Workstations, one Titanium Graphics 2000A Modelling Station, and One SuperHUB 1000-X, were purchased on June 2, 2009.

5. All necessary equipment- including two Titanium Graphics 2000V Visual

Workstations, one Titanium Graphics


2000A Modelling Station, and One SuperHUB 1000-X, was purchased on June 2, 2009.

Equipment is uncountable noun.

At 10:40 hrs on 3 December 2005, two young girls were struck by a fast moving train on the station pedestrian crossing at Elsenham station in Essex. Both girls were killed .

The accident occurred at about 11:44 hrs on 30 March 2010 when the track worker, one of a gang of eight people working on track maintenance, was struck by the 11:03 train from Stansted Airport to London Liverpool Street.

The weather at the time was cold, sunny and clear. The train was operated by One Railway. The car was pushed along the track and caught fire, but the train was not derailed. The car driver was killed in the collision.