UWF Writing Lab Rules ofThumb for SUBJECT/VERB AGREEMENT from Real Good Grammar, Too by Mamie Webb Hixon Created by April Turner
Rule 1• Use a verb ending in –s if your subject is a he, she, or it.• Singular subjects include, but are not limited to, these: – Singular nouns: • A list of phone numbers is available. • A major problem is smokers. – Singular indefinite pronouns: • Each of us has a key. – Subjects preceded by each , every , or many a: • Every Tom, Dick, and Harriet has an opinion.
Singular Subjects, cont.– Subjects preceded by the number of : • The number of students attending college is very high.– Titles/names of companies, books, plays, movies, etc.: • The Centers for Disease Control is in Atlanta, Georgia.– Gerunds: • Recycling telephone directories helps save landfill space each year.– Relative pronouns referring to singular antecedents: • Ora is the only one in the group who smokes .– Subjects joined by or, nor, either…or, or neither…nor : • Neither the players nor the coach was present.
Rule 2• Use a verb that does not end in –s if your subject is a they.• Plural subjects include, but are not limited to, these: – Subjects joined by or, nor, either…or, or neither…nor: • Neither the coach nor the players were present. – Plural indefinite pronouns: • Both of us have a key.
Plural Subjects, cont.– Plural nouns: • The scissors are lying on the desk.– Subjects preceded by a number of: • A number of students are majoring in law.– Relative pronouns referring to plural antecedents: • He is one of the millions of people who smoke.
Rule 3• Ignore prepositional phrases: – A list of phone numbers is available.• Ignore there and here at the beginning of a sentence: – There are three books on the censored list.• Ignore appositives: – They each have a ticket.• Ignore words synonymous with the subject: – Clothes are her passion . Her passion is clothes .
Rule 4• Some subjects may be singular or plural depending on the meaning of the subject. – Some of the food is cold. – Some of the vegetables are cold. – The cast was congratulated. – The cast were practicing their lines. – Fifteen minutes is a long time. – Fifteen minutes remain . – Statistics is a difficult course. – Divorce statistics are alarmingly high.
Let’s Practice!!!• The sheriff along with two of her deputies (were, was) checking licenses at the North Road exit. • WAS• Some of the lots in our subdivision (was, were) not for sale. • WERE• Here (is, are) the transistors and diodes that you purchased for your repair shop. • ARE• Genetics (is, are) very difficult for beginning students to understand. • IS
More Practice!!!• The number of girls in my football club (was, were) surprising. • WAS• A number of the swimmers (is, are) going to the state competition. • ARE• There (is, are) some error messages showing up in my program. • ARE• Neither Betty nor Jane (type, types) more than fifty words per minute. • TYPES