introduction Subject-Verb agreement is one of the most challenging parts of properly using English. A singular subject demands a singular verb; a plural subject demands a plural verb.
Introduction 2 This presentation will examine some difficulties Chinese language speakers have with subject-verb agreement. You will find helpful notes to avoid these problems in our own writing. Subject and verb will be shown in red like this example.
Indefinite pronouns Indefinite pronouns like “everyone” and “everybody” seem plural, but they are always singular — and take a singular verb. Everyone associated with the project is proud of their effort. Someone has to be responsible.
Phrases between subject and verb Be careful with phrases that come between a subject pronoun and its verb — phrases that may contain plural words . Each of the project partners is responsible for writing a summary.
Verb after “some” or “all” The verb that accompanies pronouns such as “all” and “some” is determined by whether the pronoun refers to a countable or non-countable noun. Some of the workers in the factory have left for the day. All of the rice was eaten with the vegetables. “ Workers” is countable, but “the rice” is one quantity.
Verb after “none” “ None” is usually singular, but it can be used as a plural pronoun. None of the representatives has indicated how he or she will vote. None of the representatives have indicated how they will vote.
Verb after fractions, percentages With fractions or percentage expressions, the verb is determined by what is being measured: is it countable or not. Two-fifths of the rice is ruined . One-half of the employees were convinced that there would be no red envelopes this year. Of all the comments we have received so far, fifty percent like the new product. A majority of the sales staff resigned after Chinese New Year.
Verbs after “together with,” “as well as,” “along with.” Phrases like “together with,” “along with,” and “as well as” seem to join subjects, but they do not work the same as “and”: they are not conjunctions. Some of the raw material in the factory, as well as some major pieces of production equipment, was ruined in the typhoon. The annual budget before the Management team , together with other new business plans awaiting approval, is going to take them all afternoon to discuss.
Verb after “either” and “neither.” When “either”and “neither” appear as a subject alone (without “or” and “ nor” ), they are singular. This is true even though the subject seems to be two things. Neither of these plans appears to be approved. The purchasing office will lend me a company car or compensate me for travel expenses. Either is fine with me.
Verb after “either” and “neither” 2. A little more complicated is when “ either” and “ neither” act as correlative conjunctions. Then, the subject closest to the verb determines if the verb is singular or plural form. Neither the manager nor the employees are at fault. Either the employees or the manager has to be responsible for organizing the year-end party. Has either the manager or his workers been in touch with you?
Verb after “there is,” “there are,” “here is,” etc. When “there is,” “there are,” “here is,” etc. begin a sentence, the subject (which determines the number of the verb) comes after the verb. There are several explanations for the accounting discrepency. We were looking down the street when —all of a sudden — here come Joe and his two brothers. If the management team takes this attitude, there is very little room for negotiation .
Long phrases between subject and verb Be careful when lengthy or numerous modifying phrases come between the subject and its verb. Tim Berners-Lee , one of America’s most prominent computer scientists and —as a founder of the World Wide Web Consortium — one of the most important figures in the development of the Internet, has been working quietly at M.I.T. for many years. The fact that the plural “scientists” and “figures” appear in this sentence has no effect on our choice of a singular verb, “has.”
“ Of phrases” With “of phrases,” reverse the sentence to find the right subject-verb combination. Minneapolis is one of the few cities that have/has implemented smoke-free indoor work places. Of the few cities that have implemented smoke-free indoor work places, Minneapolis is one. Turn this around to more easily figure out the verb that belongs in a relative clause. .
Conclusion If you have further questions about subject-verb agreement consult a good grammar and writing book.
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