Unit 10.2

Subject and Verb Agreement

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.
  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.
    • 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.
  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.

RELATED

Subject verb agreement means the subject and verb must agree in number.
For better understanding, at B1 level see Collective nouns and at A2 level Quantitative Determiners and at A1 level Quantitative Determiners. For better understanding at A1 level, see Plural Noun formation and Irregular Plural Nouns.

Exercises


License

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