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Subject-Verb Agreement

Sep 6, 2022
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The grammatical idea of the subject-verb agreement states that the subject of a sentence must agree with the primary verb of the same sentence. 

Singular subjects take singular verbs, while plural subjects take plural verbs. 

We have to be watchful while using verbs that follow the subjects in a sentence because of the existence of a set of rules that make an agreement between the subject and the verb in a sentence. 

To put it in simple words; the verb must agree with its subject.  

Let us take a look at the rules that constitute the subject-verb agreement:

Rule 1: 

The subject has to agree in number with the verb. To put it simply, 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. 

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Examples: 

  • The girl is laughing. 
  • The boys are playing. 
  • Her friend has a scooter. 
  • My friends have bikes. 
  • The movie doesn’t sound interesting. 

The stories don’t sound interesting. 

If the subject is singular, it is mandatory to add –s, -es, or –ies at the end of the action verb that is in the 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 action verb that is in the present tense. 

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Examples: 

  • Stars shine at night. 
  • We like to go on trips. 
  • Goats give us milk.  

Rule 2: 

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

Examples: 

  • Gold and silver are precious metals. 
  • Jim and Pam are good friends. 
  • Tom and John don’t like each other. 
  • Angela and I were cooking supper. 

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. 
  • Noodles and nuggets is my favorite food. 
  • My teacher and guide has left the school. 

Rule 3: 

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

Examples: 

  • The plane, with its crew, was held hostage by the terrorists. 
  • French, as well as German, 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 pizza or the doughnut is there at the confectionary store. 
  • Neither you nor he is accountable for the accident. 
  • No nook or corner of the office was left to be cleaned.  

The verb should take its plural form, and the plural subject should be placed right near the verb. 

Examples: 

  • Neither the CEO nor are the managers impressed. 
  • Either the shirt or the jeans 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 games was inspiring. 
  • Let me know if either of the books gets sold. 

Rule 6: 

When the subjects are joined by or or norare of different persons, the verb should agree with the nearer noun. 

Examples: 

  • Neither you nor he has won the game. 
  • Neither he nor you have passed the exam. 
  • Either you or he is correct. 
  • Either he or you are mistaken. 

Rule 7: 

Two nouns, 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 asked to finish the work fast. 
  • Each note and each pen costs around $5. 

Rule 8: 

Nouns in plural form with singular meaning are followed by a singular verb. 

Examples: 

  • This news is sickening. 
  • Mathematics is hard. 
  • The interdepartmental politics has ruined the office’s reputation. 

Rule 9: 

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

Examples: 

  • 500km is far away. 
  • Two hours was enough for cooking dinner. 
  • Five liters of petrol was purchased. 

When the collection is treated as a whole, a singular verb precedes the collective noun. 

Examples: 

  • The herd of sheep is flocking into the field. 
  • Celtic warriors has been the NBA champions seventeen times. 
  • The Council 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 preceded by a plural verb. 

Examples: 

  • The Psycho is considered a classic movie. 

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