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Subject-Verb Agreement

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by

Jenny Ma

on 25 March 2014

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Transcript of Subject-Verb Agreement

Treat most subjects joined with
and
as plural

A subject with two or more parts is said to be compound.
If the parts are connected w/
and
, the subject is usually plural.

E.g.
The child's determination to succeed and to help others
has
inspired people
.
Change has to have.

Exceptions:
When the parts of the subject form a single unit or when they refer to the same person or thing, treat the subject as singular.

E.g.
Fish and chips

was
a last minute addition to the menu.

In this example, the
subject
is

fish and chips
which is
singular
, so the verb is
was
.


Image by Tom Mooring
Make subjects and Verbs Agree
In the present tense, verbs agree with their subjects in quantity (singular or plural) and in person (1st, 2nd, 3rd)

For example: I sing, you sing, he sings, she sings, we sing, they sing.

The present-tense ending -s (or -es) is used on a verb if its subject is 3rd person singular (he, she, it, and singular nouns); otherwise, the verb takes no ending





Make the verb agree with its subject, not the word that comes between
These word groups often contain a noun that may appear to be the subject
Word groups usually come between the subject and the verb
For example: The samples
on the tray in the lab
need testing

One can avoid this mistake, by mentally eliminating the word groups to isolate the noun that is the actual subject

Note:
Phrases that begin with these prepositions:
as well as
,
in addition to
,
accompanied by
,
together with
, and
along with
, do not make a singular subject plural.
E.g. The governor as well as his secretary
were
on the plane.

As well as
is a preposition, so we replace
were
with
was.
When a compound subject is preceded by
each
or
every
, treat the subject as singular.

E.g. Every

[
car, truck, and van
]

is
required to pass inspection.
The subject is singular because it is preceded with
every,
so we use the word
is
as the verb.


E.g.

[
Alan and Marcia
]
each
have
different ideas.
The compound subject is not treated as singular, so replace have with has.

If subjects are joined with or or nor (or with either...or neither...nor), make the verb agree w/the part of the subject nearer to the verb.

E.g.
A driver's
license
or credit
card
is
required.
Card
is singular so the verb followed would be
is
.

E.g.
If an adult or a
child

is
having difficulty.
Child is singular so the verb would be
is.

Treat most indefinite pronouns as singular
Indefinite pronouns
are pronouns that do not refer to specific persons or things.





E.g.
Each of the essays has been graded.

Cont.
A few indefinite pronouns (all, any, none, some) may be singular or plural depending on the noun or pronoun they refer to.
Singular:

Some
of our
luggage

was
lost.
Plural:

None
of the
eggs

were
broken.

Some
refers to the luggage which is
singular
, so the verb is
was
.
None
refers to the eggs which is
plural
, so the verb is
were
.
Treat collective nouns as singular unless the meaning is plural
Collective nouns such as jury, committee, audience, crowd, troop, family, and couple name a class or a group, and are usually treated as singular.

Singular:
The class respects the teacher.

Plural:
The class are debating among themselves.

Class
is the
collective noun
and is treated as singular in the 1st example b/c of the verb
respects
, but treated as plural in the 2nd example b/c of the verb
are
.

Cont.
When fractions or units of measurement are used with a singular noun, treat them as singular.

Singular:

Three-fourths
of the
[
salad
]

has
been eaten.

Noun

But if they are used with a plural noun, treat them as plural.

Plural:

One fourth

of the
[
drivers
]

were
texting.

Noun


Make the verb agree with its subject even when the subject follows the verb
E.g.
There are
less

[
honeybees
]
in southern China.

Verbs usually follow subjects, but this order can be reversed. Sentences beginning w/
there is
or
there are (
or
there was
or
there were)
are inverted so the subject follows the verb.
Make the verb agree w/its subject, not w/a subject complement

E.g.
The major problem in today's public schools is the lack of funds .

Problem
is the subject, not
schools
, so the verb would be
is
since
problem
is singular.
Words such as athletics, economics, mathematics, physics, politics, statistics, measles, and news are usually singular, despite their plural form.

E.g.
Politics is one of my favorite pastimes.

Politics
should be treated as singular, so
is
should follow.

Titles of works, company names, words mentioned as words are singular.

E.g.

To Kill a Mockingbird
is my favorite book.

To Kill a Mockingbird
is the title of a work and should be treated singular, so the word
describes
is the verb.




Samples
is the noun, not to be mistaken with
on the tray
.
by:
Jenny Ma , Jasmine Ramirez , Aurora Sanchez,
Karina Marentez
This does not apply when a compound subject is followed by
each
.
Commonly used indefinite pronouns that are singular:

anybody each everyone nobody somebody
anyone either everything no one someone
anything everybody neither nothing something
Many of these words have plural meanings but should be treated as singular.
The subject is
each
, which is a
3rd person singular indefinite pronoun
, so the verb is
has
.
The phrase
a number
is treated as
plural
as in this example, so the verb would be
are
:


E.g.
A number of children are attending the wedding.

The phrase
the number
is treated as
singular
in the example bellow, so the verb would be
is
:

E.g.
The number of children is declining
Subject
Compound subject
Compound subject
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