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Subject & Verb Agreement

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by

Andrew Olson

on 23 July 2014

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Transcript of Subject & Verb Agreement

Subject &
Verb Agreement

When writing it is important to maintain agreement. Subjects and verbs must agree regarding two main points: 1) Person 2) Number

Person refers to the first person (I, we), second person (you) or third person (he, she, it, they) form.

Number refers to whether a word is singular or plural.

S-V Agreement: Number
Singular subjects have singular verbs; plural subjects have plural verbs.

Plural subjects, in general, end in -s or -es.

You always want to match the verb to the subject in number.

Number Agreement
The
student
(
is
, are) learning about subject-verb agreement.

The
students
(is,
are
) learning about subject-verb agreement.


These straightforward sentence constructions make subject-verb agreement easy to find.

Prepositional Phrases
However, sentences are not always straightforward.

Many times a subject and verb are separated by a prepositional phrase. Ignore or cut out the prepositional phrase to help match the subject and verb.

Ex: The
workers

behind the counter
(likes,
like
) to joke with their customers.

Ex: A serving
size

of nonfat chips
(
contains
, contain) 440 calories.

Indefinite Pronouns 1
Indefinite pronouns generally refer to pronouns that don't definitively refer to another noun (even though sometimes they do).

As subjects, most indefinite pronouns are singular (another, anybody, anyone, anything, everybody, everyone, everything, nobody, nothing, somebody, something, etc.).

This is true for the above list even if the word means more than one person or thing: everybody, everyone, everything.

Ex:
Everybody
(
is
, are) nervous the first day of school.
Indefinite Pronouns 2
The following indefinite plural pronouns obviously have plural verbs:

both, few, many, others, several

Ex:
Several
students (is,
are
) nervous the first day of school.

Ex: Some people look to religious leaders for life guidance;
others
(
look
, looks) to the stars.

Ex: A
few
(
want
, wants) to drop the class.

Indefinite Pronouns 3
Five indefinite pronouns can require
either
a singular or plural verb. They are:

all, any, most, none, some.

For these special indefinite pronouns, one must look at the object of the preposition to determine whether to use a singular or plural verb

Ex:
All
of the
students
(is,
are
) gone.
Ex:
All
of the
money
(
is
, are) gone.

Ex:
Most
of my
coworkers
(is,
are
) teachers.
Ex:
Most
of my
work
(
is
, are) done at home.
Compound Subjects 1
Subjects joined by the word
and
generally require a plural verb.

Ex:
Sheri

and

Jerry
(is,
are
) confused by all this agreement nonsense.

However, if the subjects are generally considered one item, then a singular plural is required.

Ex:
Biscuits

and gravy
(
is
, are) the best breakfast food ever.

Compound Subjects 2
Singular subjects joined by the words
nor
or
or
require a singular verb, but plural subjects joined by the words
nor
or
or
require a plural verb.

Ex:

My
instructor or
my
adviser
(
is
, are) available for help with enrollment.

Ex:
Pretzels or hotdogs
(is,
are
) available from the grandstand.

However,
both
subjects must be plural or singular for this rule to work (with nor/or). If one subject is singular and the other is plural, match the subject closest to the verb for agreement.

Ex: My sister or my
dogs
(is,
are
) joining me.
Singular or Plural? 1
Many subjects can be singular or plural depending on whether the subject is considered one unit or group (singular), or separate individual parts (plural).

Ex: The
couple
(
is
, are) vacationing in Destin, FL.
(one unit = singular)

Ex: The
couple
(was,
were
) cleared of charges, including murder 1.
(cleared individually = plural)
Singular or Plural? 2
When a subject expresses an amount, like measurements or quantities, as a single group or item, use a singular verb.

Ex:
Twenty dollars
to see this movie (
is
, are) pure robbery.

Ex:
One third
of the group (
has
, have) moved on.

Singular or Plural? 3
Certain nouns may appear plural, but they name a person, place, or thing and are singular in number.

Ex:
Billiards
(
is
, are) a game that Mr. Olson will use to hustle you.

Ex: The
United States
(allow,
allows
) for freedom of speech as right to each citizen.
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