SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENTEnglish for Specific PurposesAntonio Delgado, BSEd III
As an additional guide inbrushing up on your grammar,keep in mind the following rules:
1.) The general rule is that singular subjects require singular verbs and plural subjects require plural verbs. Examples:Robinhood steals from the rich and helps the poor.The books are on the table.
2.) The pronouns I and you take a plural verb.Examples:You are not alone.I sympathize with the prosecutor who covered his ears.
Exception:I is used with am in the present tense and with was in the past tense.Examples:I am the leader of the group.I was surprised when she walked out of the room.
3.) When the sentence begins with there, the verb must agree with the subject that follows.Examples:There are rice fields in Nueva Ecija.There is a boy waiting for you outside.
4.) Compound Subjectsa. Compound subjects connected by AND usually require a plural verb.Examples:The teacher and the student learn from each other.The director and the producer are present at the awards night.
b. Compound subjects connected by AND but are considered a single unit or refer to the same person or thing require a singular verb. Examples:Peace and calm reigns over the country.The director and producer was present at the awards night.
Note:When each part of the compound subject has a limiting word each, this indicates that they represent different persons or things and therefore the verb required is plural.
c. When compound subjects connected by AND are modified by the words each, every, no or many a, the verb is singular. Examples:Each officer and member is expected to help.Many a boy and girl has volunteered to help.
d. In compound subjects connected by or or nor, the verb agrees with the nearer subject part. Examples:Either the players or the coach is welcome to attend the planning session.Neither the book nor the papers were found.
5.) Collective nouns usually require singular verbs. Examples:The committee adjourns.The band plays regularly at the local bar.
Exception:If the idea denotes separate individuals, a plural verb is required. Examples:The committee disagree on the voting procedure.The band are cleaning their own instruments.
6.) Indefinite Pronounsa. Each, none, one, either, neither, much, nobody, somebody, something, everything, anyone, etc. require singular verbs. Examples:Everyone is expected to cooperate.Each takes home a million pesos.
b. Both, few, several and some require plural verbs. Examples:Many are called but few are chosen.
7.) Nouns plural in form but singular in meaning (e.g. news, mumps, measles; Mathematics economics, politics; Philippines, Maldives; and titles of books, movies, etc.) require singular verbs.
Examples:Measles is a contagious disease.Mathematics is considered a difficult subject by most students.The Philippines lags behind other countries in economic development.Trees is a poem by Joyce Kilmer.
8.) Some nouns are always plural (e.g. scissors, tweezers, pants, eyeglasses, etc.) and therefore require plural verbs. Examples:The scissors are missing.Your eyeglasses look good on you.
9.) The expression a number takes a plural verb; the expression the number takes a singular verb. Examples:A number of journalists were killed.The number of slain journalists is high.
10.) Words joined to the subject by expressions such as with, together with, as well as, accompanied by, not, or including are considered parenthetical; therefore they do not affect the number of the verb.
Examples:The teacher, as well as the students, learn in the classroom.Noynoy, not Mar, is the leader of the government.
11.) Amount of money, length of time, unit of measurement and fraction require a singular verb. Examples:Sixteen hours is a long time to travel.Five thousand pesos is too much for a daily allowance of a student.Three-fourths is enough.
12.) Fractions take a singular verb if the object of the OF-phrase that follows is singular; and a plural verb if the object of the OF-phrase is plural. Examples:Half of the apples were rotten.Half of the apple pie was eaten by you.
13.) The number of the verb ties with the number of the relative pronoun used as a subject. Examples:The people who know her find her very annoying.He is one of the students who were arrested during the rally.
REMEMBER:The verb agrees with the subject, not the modifier, intervening phrase or predicate noun.Examples:The roots of the tree anchor it to the soil.A five hundred peso-bill was found on the table.My objection is the too many errors.
REMEMBER:Sometimes, sentence might be grammatically correct but awkward. Examples:Awkward: Either he or I am the first.Better: Either he is the first or I am.