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Subject-Verb Agreement

  • Categories English Grammar
  • Total Enrolled 2
  • Last Update February 19, 2021

Description

Subject and Verb Agreement

 

 

In order to cope with the problem of subject-verb agreement, a learner should keep certain rules in mind. Such rules tell us how verb changes, either singular or plural, with change in subject. These rules are helpful for students in their exams. Some of these important rules are given below.

 

 

 

Rule: 1

A singular subject follows singular verb & a plural subject follows a plural verb.

 

  • Wrong Use
Correct Use
A boy are playing in the ground. A boy is playing in the ground.
The girls is dancing in the room. The girls are dancing in the room.

 

 

 

 

Rule: 2

When there are two subjects connected with (and) the verb would be plural.’

  

Wrong Use Correct Use
Ali and Ayesha is going to park. Ali and Ayesha are going to park.
Two and two makes four. Two and two make four.

 

 

 

 

Rule: 3

When there are two subjects connected with (and) but the impression is of the same thing the verb would be singular.

Wrong Use Correct Use
Slow and steady win the race. Slow and steady wins the race.
The novelist and poet are dead. The novelist and poet is dead.
Bread and butter are his only food. Bread and butter is his only food.

 

 

 

 

 

Rule: 4

Sometimes, verb is used with the nearest noun whereas real subject is another one.

Wrong Use Correct Use
All the boys of this class is very intelligent. All the boys of this class are very intelligent.
The climate of these areas are not very hot. The climate of these areas is not very hot.

 

 

 

 

Rule: 5

When two subjects are joined with:

As well as————-, along with———–, with———–, together with

In addition to————,

The verb would be according to first subject.

 

Wrong Use Correct Use
The ship with all its passengers were lost. The ship with all its passengers was lost.
You as well as I am going to Multan. You as well as I are going to Multan.

 

 

 

 

Rule: 6

When two subjects are joined with:

Either—-or,    Neither—-nor Not only—- but also   or (only)

The verb would be according to second subject.

Wrong Use Correct Use
Neither he nor his students is ready for the test. Neither he nor his students are ready for the test.
Not only he but also his friends has come. Not only he but also his friends have come.
Either he or I are going to Lahore. Either he or I am going to Lahore.

 

 

 

 

 

Rule: 7

Some words always follow singular verb.

Either——Neither——-None——Everyone——-Someone—–Anyone

More than one—– Many a—–Each—–One of the

Wrong Use Correct Use
Either of the two brothers have failed. Either of the two brothers has failed.
Each of the two sums were solved. Each of the two sums was solved.
Many a man were present there. Many a man was present there.

 

 

 

 

 

Rule: 8

When a collective noun is used collectively, it follows singular verb whereas a collective noun is used individually, it follows plural verb.

Wrong Use Correct Use
The court have issued its orders. The court has issued its orders.
The committee is divided on a minor point. The committee are divided on a minor point.
The jury was divided in its verdict. The jury were divided in their verdict.
The jury give their unanimous decision. The jury gives its unanimous decision.

 

 

 

 

 

Rule: 9

When there is one subject and more than one verb, the verbs throughout the sentence must agree with the subject.

Wrong Use Correct Use
The boy enters in the room and pick up all the things. The boy enters in the room and picks up all the things.
The students come in time and does assigned works. The students come in time and do assigned works.

 

 

 

 

 

Rule: 10

When a phrase comes between the subject and the verb, the verb is used according to subject and the phrase doesn’t affect the agreement.

Wrong Use Correct Use
The student with all his degrees get job. The student with all his degrees gets job.
The people of my village is active. The people of my village are active.

 

 

 

 

 

Rule: 11

Uncountable nouns follow singular verb.

Wrong Use Correct Use
Education are the key to success. Education is the key to success.
The information obtained from the office were authentic. The information obtained from the office was authentic.

 

 

 

 

 

Rule: 12

When a sentence begins with there, in this case we have no subject, the verb agrees with what follows the verb.

 

Wrong Use Correct Use
There are a little hope of his success. There is a little hope of his success.
There is many students in the room. There are many students in the room.

 

 

 

 

 

Rule: 13

Use a singular verb with distances, period of time, sums of money, etc when they are considered as a unit.

Wrong Use Correct Use
Ten miles are a long distance. Ten miles is a long distance.
Hundred dollars were a high price. Hundred dollars was a high price.

 

 

 

Rule: 14

Subordinate clauses that come between the subject and verb don’t affect their agreement.

 

Wrong Use Correct Use
The boy who is sitting are my student. The boy who is sitting are my student.
The people who are living in villages is nice. The people who are living in villages are nice.

 

 

 

 

 

Rule: 15

Indefinite pronouns usually take singular verbs (with some exceptions).

Someone—–, Somebody—–, No one—–, Nobody—-, Everybody

 

Wrong Use Correct Use
Everybody want to be loved. Everybody wants to be loved.
No one are able to run. No one is able to run.

 

The exception to the above rule include the pronouns,

Few—–, Many—-, Several—–, Both—–, All—–, Some

 

Examples:

  1. Few were left alive after the flood.
  2. Some are born great.

 

 

 

 

Rule: 16

If two infinitives (because infinitive works as a noun) are separated by “and” they take plural form of verb.

Wrong Use Correct Use
To walk and to play is beneficial for health. To walk and to play are beneficial for health.
To read and to write is good qualities of students. To read and to write are good qualities of students.

 

 

 

Rule: 17

When gerund is used as the subject of a sentence, it takes singular form of verb, but when two gerunds are connected with “and”, plural verb is used.

 

Wrong Use Correct Use
Standing in the water were a bad idea. Standing in the water was a bad idea.
Swimming in the ocean and playing drums is my hobbies. Swimming in the ocean and playing drums are my hobbies.

 

 

 

 

Rule: 18

When a plural noun is the proper name of any place or thing, it follows the singular verb.

Wrong Use Correct Use
United States have a big navy. United States has a big navy.
Gulliver’s Travels were written by Swift. Gulliver’s Travels was written by Swift.

 

 

 

 

 

Rule: 19

Some nouns are singular in form but plural in meaning, take a plural verb.

Wrong Use Correct Use
The cattle is drinking water. The cattle are drinking water.
The fish was of different in size. The fish were of different in size.
The people is going to the movie. The people are going to the movie.

 

 

 

 

 

Rule: 20

Some nouns are plural in form but singular in meaning, take a singular verb.

Wrong Use Correct Use
Economics are very useful subject. Economics is very useful subject.
The news were received from Multan. The news was received from Multan.
Wages of sin are hell. Wages of sin is hell.

 

About the instructor

Waseem Ahmad

Lecturer in English at UCMS

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