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Agreement of The Verb with The Subject :
A verb agrees with its subject.
We use a singular verb after a singular noun and after HE, SHE or IT.
We use a plural verb after a plural noun or after THEY.
The manager is busy.
He works hard.
My sons are abroad.
They work in the USA.
A verb agrees with its subject not only in number but also in person.
I am free. I have nothing to do. (first person & singular number)
She is free. She has nothing to do. (third person & singular number)
The following table shows the use of the verbs BE, HAVE & WORK with different
First Person - Singular
Second Person - Singular
Third Person - Singular
He, She / It is….
He, She / It has….
He, She / It works….
First Person - Plural
Second Person - Plural
Third Person - Plural
The subject-verb agreement rule gives no trouble as long as there is no doubt about the
number and person of the subject. Sometimes it would be difficult to determine the nature
of the subject.
After a lot of + noun the verb agrees with the noun.
A lot of bread is left.
A lot of biscuits are left.
After A NUMBER OF (a small / large number of) + noun, we should use a plural verb.
A number of students have complained about it.
A large number of people have arrived to see the match.
This rule gives no trouble as long as there is no doubt of the number and person of the
subject. Sometimes it would be difficult to determine exactly the nature of the subject.
Collective nouns like family, government, team, audience and committee take either a
singular verb or a plural verb. We use a singular verb if we are thinking of the group as a
The family has lived here for over a hundred years.
The government is not very popular.
The audience was large.
We use a plural verb if we are thinking of the group as a number of individual people.
The family have all gone on holiday.
The government have asked the country to decide by a vote.
The audience are requested to keep their seats.
According to modem British grammarians, the above rule need not be strictly observed.
The verb is always plural after people, police and cattle.
People often say such things.
The police are questioning two men.
The cattle are grazing in the field.
We use a singular verb after a noun phrase of amount or measurement.
Fifteen minutes is allowed to each speaker.
Rs. 1500 seems a lot of money for a shirt.
20 kilometers is a long way to walk.
We consider fifteen minutes, Rs. 1500 or 20 kilometers to be a single thing or an amount or a quantity.
The following nouns ending in -S count as singular and therefore take singular verbs.
1. News - The news is true.
2. Subject names like politics, economics, physics :
But : What are his politics ( = his political opinions)?
3. Some proper names like Naples, Athens, Wales, the United States of America :
The United States of America is one of the most powerful nations in the world.
4. Some diseases like measles, mumps, rickets :
Measles takes a long time to get over.
5. Plural titles of books :
Gulliver's Travels is an enjoyable book.
Some nouns denoting two things joined together, like spectacles, scissors, trousers,
pants, pyjamas, ATC treated as plural.
Where are my spectacles?
His trousers are dirty.
When two subjects are joined by….
The general rule is that the verb-agrees with the subject immediately before it.
Either your brakes or your eye sight is at fault.
Either your eyesight or your brakes are at fault.
Neither the inspector nor his officers were able to help us.
But it would be better to alter the construction and say…
Either your brakes are defective or my eyesight is.
The inspector was not able to help us nor were his officers.
Singular nouns joined by and usually take a plural verb. But a singular verb is used when we think of the nouns as making up ONE THING.
Bread and butter was given to the travelers.
When the subject is ONE OF + plural noun, the verb should be singular to agree with
one. It would be wrong to make the verb agree with the plural noun immediately before it.
One of my brothers lives in England.
However, the use of a plural verb with either, neither, each, everyone, anyone, none
(which are treated as singular) followed by of + plural noun or pronoun is common in the
speech of educated native speakers.
Neither of them knows the answer.
Neither of them know the answer. (Informal)
Similarly, when a singular noun is followed by with + plural noun (or nouns joined by
and), the verb should be singular.
Mr. Raman, with his wife and children, has gone to Mumbai.
Here the exact subject is Mr. Raman which is singular.
Note that the expression more than one + noun, though plural in sense, is followed by
a singular verb.
More than one person has died in the accident.
In sentences beginning with there, the verb agrees with the real subject which follows.
There is a man at the door.
There are many girls in our class.
Agreement of The Verb with The Subject
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