Unit 10.2

Subject and Verb Agreement

Syntax - 3 minutes

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Introduction

The subject and verb agreement is a situation in which the subject and a verb accord in number.

Form

Subject verb agreement means the subject and verb must agree in number.

Singular verbs

If a subject is singular, its verb must be singular. We find:

  1. Two singular nouns connected by or, nor, neither/nor, either/or;
  2. Plural names of countries and plural names of organisations;
  3. Collective nouns;
  4. Amounts and quantities;
  5. Expressions like: more than one, one of…;
  6. Expressions joined by and when they refer to a single idea;

Plural verbs

If a subject is plural, its verb must be plural. We find:

  1. Singular nouns connected by and;
  2. Singular quantifying expressions: a number of, a group of, a lot of…

Example

Singular verbs:

  1. Two singular nouns connected by or, nor, neither/nor, either/or
    • Either Peter or Tom dislikes coffee.
    • Neither my Mum nor my Dad wants to get a divorce.
    • Either her sister or her brother is on a honeymoon.
  2. Plural names of countries and organisations
    • The United States is anxious to improve its image in Latin America.
    • Consolidated Fruitgrowers has just taken over Universal Foodstores.
  3. Collective nouns
    • A herd of cows is grazing on the pasture.
    • A hockey team is throwing a costume party.
    • That group of friends always meets in this café.
  4. Amounts and quantities
    • Where is that five pounds I lent you?
    • Twenty miles is a long way to walk.
    • More than 41 inches of snow has fallen on the city this winter.
  5. Expression
    • More than one person is going to have to find a new job.
    • One of my friends is getting married.
  6. Expressions joined by and when they refer to a single idea
    • This gin and tonic isn’t very strong, is it?
    • Your toast and honey is on the table.

Plural verbs:

  1. Two singular nouns connected by and
    • My brother and his girlfriend live together.
    • Lisa and Jack don’t like business dinners.
    • His mum and his dad give me a present every year.
  2. Singular quantifying expressions with: a number of, a group of, a lot of…
    • A number of people have tried to find the treasure, but they have all failed.
    • A group of us are going to take a boat through the Dutch canals.
    • A lot of social problems are caused by unemployment.

Use

We use subject and verb agreement because the number of a subject in a sentence always agrees with the number of a verb.

Summary

Subject verb agreement means the subject and verb must agree in number.

If a subject is singular, its verb must be singular. We find:

  • Two singular nouns connected by or, nor, neither/nor, either/or;
  • Plural names of countries and plural names of organisations;
  • Collective nouns;
  • Amounts and quantities;
  • Expressions like: more than one, one of…;
  • Expressions joined by and when they refer to a single idea.

If a subject is plural, its verb must be plural. We find:

  • Singular nouns connected by and;
  • Singular quantifying expressions: a number of, a group of, a lot of…

For example:
Neither James nor Michael celebrates Christmas.” = James and Michael are two singular nouns and they are connected with neither… nor, we use the singular form of the verb.
— “July and her friends want to adopt children.”= The two nouns are connected by and, so we use a plural verb.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

Exercise

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