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Sub Verb Agreement

Aug 30, 2022
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Read the sentences: 

  1. The girl is skipping. 
  1. The two little girls are holding the rope in their hands.    
  1. A child is sitting alone reading a book.  
  1. A girl is skating wearing a helmet. 
  1. Some kids are sitting on the benches and are getting ready to play. 

In sentence 1, the subject and the verb are connected by the auxiliary verb, also known as the linking verbis. 

In sentence 2, the subject and the verb are connected by the auxiliary verb, also known as the linking verb, are

Similarly, the remaining sentences also use linking verbs. 

It is basic knowledge that in sentence 1, the linking verb used is is, because the subject the girl is a singular form. Likewise, in sentence 2, the linking verb used is are, because the subject two girls is a plural form.  

But have you thought as to why there are changes when it comes to the linking verbs and the action verbs? Well, that is because of the existence of a set of rules which make an agreement between the subject and the verb. To put it in simple words, the verb must agree with thesubject. So, in sentence 1, the verb is agrees with the subject the girl, which is singular. And similarly in sentence 2, the verb are agrees with the subject two girls, which is plural.  

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Rule 1: 

The subject and the verb must agree in number. To put it simple, a singular subject takes a singular verb, and a plural subject takes a plural verb. This implies that it is only the subject that affects the verb, and nothing else matters. This is the cornerstone rule on which the other rules are based.  

Examples: 

  • The boy is crying. 
  • The boys are laughing. 
  • My friend has a bike. 
  • My friends have bikes. 
  • The story doesn’t sound interesting. 
  • The stories don’t sound interesting. 

If the subject is singular, it is mandatory to add s, er, or ies at the end of verb in present tense. 

Examples: 

  • The star shines at night. 
  • The Sun rises in the East. 
  • The cow gives us milk. 

If the subject is plural, we need not add anything at the end of the verb in present tense. 

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Example: 

  • The stars shine at night. 
  • They like to go on treks. 
  • The cows give us milk. 

Rule 2: 

If two subjects are joined by and, then the verb takes a plural form. 

Examples: 

  • Diamond and platinum are precious metals. 
  • Leo and Kate are good friends. 
  • Were your mother and father at home? 
  • Jack and Jill don’t like each other. 
  • She and I were cooking dinner. 

But if the nouns in the subject suggest a single idea, or refer to the same person or thing, the verb takes its singular form. 

Examples: 

  • Time and tide waits for no man. 
  • Spaghetti and steak is my favorite food. 
  • My teacher and guide has left the school. 
  • The rise and fall of the empire was dependent on its ruler. 

Rule 3: 

The verb takes its singular form when words are joined to a singular subject by with, as well as, etc. 

Examples: 

  • The ship, with its crew, was held hostage by the pirates. 
  • English, as well as French, is taught in the university. 
  • The right guidance, as well as empathy, has changed him for good. 

Rule 4: 

Two or more singular subjects when joined by or or nor must be followed by a singular verb. 

Examples: 

  • Either the ice-cream or the doughnut is there at the confectionary store. 
  • Neither you nor he is responsible for the mishap. 
  • No nook or corner of the office was left unchecked. 

But when one of the subjects connected by or or nor is plural, the verb should take its plural form, and the plural subject should be placed right near the verb. 

Examples: 

  • Neither the manager nor the interviewers are impressed. 
  • Either the shirt or the shoes are to be thrown away. 

Rule 5: 

The verb that follows words like either, neither, each, everyone, none or many a, should be singular. 

Examples:  

  • Neither of the performances was impressive. 
  • Let me know if either of the books gets sold. 
  • Each of the works is reviewed strictly. 
  • Every one of the them likes to ride the bike. 
  • Many a man does not realize his own mistakes. 
  • None of the ice-creams tastes good. 

Rule 6: 

Two nouns in the subject when preceded by each or every should be followed by a singular verb even though they are connected by and. 

Examples: 

  • Each boy and each girl was kindly requested to fill up the forms. 
  • Each book and each pen costs around $3. 

Rule 7: 

Some nouns which appear to be plural in form, but singular in meaning, are followed by a singular verb. 

Examples: 

  • The news is disgusting. 
  • Mathematics is a tough subject to crack for some people. 
  • The interdepartmental politics has ruined the university’s reputation. 

Rule 8: 

Entities like units of measure, time and amount of money are followed by a singular verb. 

Examples: 

  • $500 is a lot of money. 
  • Two hours was enough for us to finish off the work. 
  • Five liters of oil was used by him while cooking. 

Rule 9: 

A collective noun is followed by a singular verb when the collection is considered as one whole. 

Examples: 

  • The herd of sheep is flocking into the meadow. 
  • Los Angeles Lakers has been the NBA champions seventeen times. 
  • The Committee has decided to appoint Vince the President. 

Rule 10: 

Titles of books, movies, and other similar works are always singular, even though they appear plural, and should be followed by a singular verb. 

Examples: 

  • The Godfather trilogy is considered as the Bible of gangster movies. 
  • Gulliver’s Travels was written by Jonathan Swift.

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