Subject-Verb Agreement


Back in college, we write so many reflection papers, essays, and submission articles. Our grade does not only rely on the substancial content but also on its structure. Thus, knowing the basic of all — the subject and verb agreement, is very essential.

I came across on my high school handouts on the subject-verb agreement and I think keeping a copy here in my hub might just help. This is a version I’ve paraphrased then according to my understanding so it would be easy to memorize. 🙂

1. A singular subject takes a singular verb; a plural subject takes a plural verb.
Ex. John skips meals.

2. The number of the subject is not changed by a prepositional phrase after the subject.
Ex. One of the delagates comes from Mindanao.

3. The following indefinite pronouns are singular: each, either, neither, one, everybody, no one, nobody, anyone, anybody, someone, somebody.
Ex. Everyone seems fulfilled.

4. The words a few, many, both, several take plural verbs.
Ex. Several men are in the office.

5. When the words some, any, none and all are followed by a phrase, the verb agrees with the phrase.
Ex. Some of the food was served.
       Some of the children are playing.

6. Nouns plural in form but singular in meaning such as physics, economics, mathematics, measles, civics, news, etc. take singular verb.
Ex. Mathematics is our subject.

7. Agreement with compound subjects:

a. A compund subject connected by and generally takes plural verb.
Ex. My bestfriend and my nephew visit me everyday.

b. Compound subjects that are closely related or that refer to the same person or thing take a singular verb.
Ex. Paper and ballpen comes in handy together.

c. A compound subject involving the use of each or every takes a singular verb.
Ex. Every man and woman has the ability to forgive others.

d. Compound subjects joined by either-or and neither-nor take singular verbs depending upon the nearer subject.
Ex. Either the students or the teacher complains to the school administration.

8. Intervening words like together with, in addition to, as well as, including and similar constructions following the subject do not affect the number of the subject.
Ex. Mrs. Tina Pakan, together with her children, has left for Brgy. Dinaanan.

9. Words or phrases expressing periods of time, weights, measurement and amounts of money are usually regarded as singular.
Ex. Five pesos is enough to buy some bread.

10. Fractions may take singular or plural verbs depending on the of-phrase.
Ex. Three-halves of the beans were cooked.

11.Collective nouns take singular verbs when they are used to denote a unit; they take plural verbs when used to refer to the individual members of the group.
Ex. The family is leaving for abroad.
      The family are discussing departure plans.

12. When the subject and the predicate noun are of different numbers, the verb agrees with the subject, not the predicate noun.
Ex. The ship’s cargo was pineapples.
       Pineapples were the ship’s cargo.

13. The expression the number takes a singular verb; the expression a number takes a plural verb.
Ex. The number of students is big.
      A number of rebellions were on guard.

14. The title of a book, even when plural in form, takes a singular verb.
Ex. Origin of Species is a book written by Charles Darwin.

15. There is/was; Here is/was is followed by a singular noun. There are/were; Here are/were is followed by a plural noun.
Ex. There is a God that sees all.
      There are books that are not worth reading.

Reference: Prentice-Hall, Inc (2004). Grammar and Composition 4. Pearson Education South Asia Pte. Ltd., Jurong, Singapore.

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