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Subject-Verb Agreement

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Kyndall Turner

on 31 March 2017

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Transcript of Subject-Verb Agreement

Intervening Words Between Subject and Verb
In most cases, the easiest and most effective method for determining the subject and its corresponding verb is to ignore the words between the subject and the verb.
Subjects Joined by “and” and “both…and”
Two subjects, whether plural or singular, that are joined by “and” or “both…and” become one plural subject and should be paired with a plural verb.
Subjects Joined by “or,” “nor,” “either…or,” and “neither…nor”
When two singular subjects are joined by these words, they remain singular and should be paired with a singular verb.
Making Subjects and
Verbs Agree

A singular subject requires a singular verb.

Plural subjects require plural verbs.
Subject-Verb Agreement
From Mamie Webb Hixon's
Real Good Grammar, Too: A Handbook for Students and Professionals

Presented by Kyndall Turner, Spring 2015
Singular verbs end in –s.
The new book is one of my favorites.
The new books are some of my favorites.
Plural verbs do not end in –s.
Prepositional phrases introduced by “as well as,” “along with,” “together with,” and “in addition to” that come between the subject and the verb do not affect subject-verb agreement and can be ignored.
Samantha, together with her sorority sisters, raises funds for charitable events.
The manager, as well as her co-workers, usually submits her timesheet on time.
Other prepositional phrases that come between the subject and the verb do not affect subject-verb agreement and can be ignored.
Her collection of baseball cards is valuable.
The government's proposals about preserving the environment cause controversy.
Beach residents
mobile home residents worry about thunderstorms and greatly fear tornadoes and hurricanes.
a teller
a guard operate the drive-in window at the bank.
A pen
a pencil is in the drawer.
the airline
the flight attendant is happy.
When two plural subjects are joined by these words, they remain plural and should be paired with a plural verb.
bananas are healthy substitutes for sugary sweets.
When a plural subject and a singular subject are joined by “or,” “nor,” “either…or,” or “neither…nor,” the verb should agree with the closer of the two subjects.
the class officers
the faculty advisor makes the final decision.
the faculty advisor
the class officers make the final decision.
Indefinite Pronouns As Subjects
The singular indefinite pronouns (to the left and at the bottom of the page) always require a singular verb.
of us needs a ticket for each day we plan to spend in Walt Disney World.
wants to see Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom!
“Both,” “several,” “few,” and “many” are a few of the plural indefinite pronouns and will always require a plural verb.
of us have already bought our tickets.
Subjects Preceded by “each” and “every”
Subjects preceded by “each” or “every” always require singular verbs.
cat has his or her own bowl.
cat also has his or her own ball of yarn.
Tom, George, and Harriet wants to see our three identical cats.
Subjects Preceded by "a number of" and "a percentage of"
Subjects preceded by “a number of” or “a percentage of” always require a plural verb.
A number of Florida vacationers are young people.
However, a large percentage of the vacationers are senior citizens.
Subjects preceded by “the number of” or “the percentage of” always require a singular verb.
The percentage of female college students has exceeded the percentage of male college students since the late 1970s.
However, the number of women entering higher education is still rising.
Subjects Preceded by “the number of” and “the percentage of”
Sentences Beginning with “Here” or “There”
Neither “there” nor “here” can serve as the subject of a sentence. When these words open a sentence, look for the subject that will follow the verb.
Here’s my reasons for quitting smoking.
Here are my reasons for quitting smoking.
There’s over seventy known carcinogens in cigarette smoke.
There are over seventy known carcinogens in cigarette smoke.
Collective Nouns as Subjects
Collective nouns are nouns that include or imply more than one person that may or may not act as a unified group.
The jury has reached a verdict.
The jury have left the courthouse in separate cars.
Collective nouns can include the following: “group,” “jury,” “team,” “class,” “family,” “committee,” “herd,” or “faculty.”
When the individuals included in the collective noun are acting as one group, the noun requires a singular verb.
When the individuals included in the collective noun are acting individually, the noun requires a plural verb.
Subjects Ending in
Some nouns that end in
are not actually plural and require a singular verb.
Home economics involves more than sewing and cooking.
Subjects with Appositives
An appositive is a noun, pronoun, noun phrase, or series of nouns placed next to another word or phrase to identify or rename it. When the subject of a sentence is renamed by an appositive, the appositive can be ignored no matter how long or short it is.
have a ticket.
The novel,
all three volumes
, was written by a local author.
Some nouns ending in –ics are also singular and require singular verbs.
Some nouns ending in –ics are or can be plural and require plural verbs.
The news is on at six.
Measles, best known for its skin rash, is a very rare contagious disease that usually affects children.
Statistics is a difficult course.
Gloria’s politics are left of the center.
Divorce statistics are alarmingly high.
Singular Subjects That Precede Plural Subject Complements
When a subject is singular, even if its subject complement is plural, the verb should be singular.
His sole support is his parents.
The hardest thing for him to afford while away at college is healthy meals.
Therefore, his main source of nutrition is ramen noodles.
Subjects That Follow Verbs
When the structure of a sentence is inverted and the subject comes after the verb, the verb should agree with the subject that follows it.
At the bottom of the slope sits a bulletin board.
Posted among the fliers was a sign cautioning skiers not to cross ski area boundaries.
Subjects Preceded by “half” and “half of”
are affected by the
prepositional phrase
if the
of the prepositional phrase is singular, then the fraction is considered singular; if the
is plural, the fraction is plural.
Attached were fliers and notices announcing various events at the ski lodge.
Plural Subjects That Precede Singular Subject Complements
When a subject is plural, even if its subject complement is singular, the verb should be plural.
Tutors are one of the Writing Lab’s greatest assets.
Grammatical corrections are their specialty.
Commas are a serious problem for students.
of the
has been cooked.
of the delicious
have already been eaten.
Amounts as Subjects
When referring to an
of money, distance, time, etc., use a
verb. When referring to
physical dollars or units of measure
, use a
One hundred dollars is
, unfortunately, not a lot of money.
Dollars are
the national currency of the USA.
Twenty miles is
quite a distance to run daily.
Kilometers are

a part of the metric system.
Three hours is
a long time to wait in line.
Minutes are
made up of seconds.
Five hundred pounds is
Pounds are
used to measure weight.
Names of Groups, Titles, and Words as Subjects
Some titles/names of books, movies, groups, companies, or other entities or works seem to be plural because they end in “s” but are actually singular because they name only one entity.
The Alfred Hitchcock film
The Birds
was successfully advertised with a campaign that said, "
The Birds
is coming!"
The Centers for Disease Control addresses avian influenza bird flu on its website.
BIRDS is the acronym for the Bird Industry Research and Development Society.
This problem also occurs when the subject of a sentence is a plural word being referred to as a word.
“Birds” is a plural noun.
Foreign Nouns as Subjects
Some nouns derived from foreign languages (primarily Greek and Latin) appear to be singular when they are actually plural.
The criteria for Troubadour submissions are located in your email.
One criterion is that works of prose cannot exceed ten pages.
The media are camped outside the apartment building.
The data are being tabulated.
Relative Subjects as Pronouns: The Inclusion and Exclusion Rule
Relative pronouns, such as
, or
, which refer to plural antecedents require plural verbs. However, when the relative pronoun refers to a single subject, the pronoun takes a singular verb.
INCLUSION – use a plural verb:
She is
one of
the girls who cheer on Friday nights.
EXCLUSION – use a singular verb:
She is
the only one
of the cheerleaders who has a broken leg.
Gerunds as Subjects
Gerunds are verbs that end in
that function as nouns. Gerunds as subjects always require a singular verb even if the noun that follows it is plural.
to different countries satisfies her need for adventure.
wild killer whales off the coast of Alaska was life changing.
postcards helps her to remember each trip.
to classes always makes her a bit sad.
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