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Figure of Speech

Subject Verb Agreement Rules

You might be familiar with the subject-verb rules that are used while framing sentences. To have a much clearer picture of what they are, you will find them presented with examples in this article. The entire trick lies in recognizing the singular and plural subjects and the forms of verb they take up. Yes, it is indeed a difficult task for the new learners to grab the concept of subject verb agreement rules all of a sudden, but at the same it is never impossible. In order to master the use of these rules, you have to understand the various parts of speech elaborately and then apply them with rules. After understanding all the parts of speech individually, it then falls upon these subject verb agreement rules to play a critical part while building up sentences. You will find some of the rules to be straightforward, while others might seem a bit complicated and may require a strong base to understand. Read through this article and grab the concepts of the rules and apply them to frame your error-free sentences.

Basic Rules

A singular subject can refer to a singular verb and at the same time, a plural verb must be matched to a plural subject. Hence, it is indeed essential to recognize correctly the subject and the verb and classify them as singular and plural. The verb can be identified as the action in the sentence and the subject as, ‘who’ or ‘what’ does that action.

Rule 1:

When the subject of a sentence is composed of two or more nouns or pronouns connected by ‘and’, use a plural verb.

Example:

  • Sohan and Mithun play football every evening.
  • She and her friends are at the fair yesterday.

In the given two examples, the set of nouns Sohan, Mithun, she and her friends are connected plural like ‘plays’ and ‘are’.

Rule 2:

When two or more singular nouns or pronouns are connected by ‘or’ or ‘nor’, use a singular verb.

Example:

  • If you are searching for the book or the pen, it is in the shelf.

Here, the nouns are singular-book, pen-and hence, when connected by ‘or’, you have to use a singular verb, ‘is’.

  • Neither the pen nor the book was found.

Rule 3:

When a compound subject contains both a singular and a plural noun or pronoun joined by ‘or’ or ‘nor’, the verb should agree with the part of the subject that is nearer the verb.

Example:

  • The boys or the girls are waiting for you.
  • The girls or the boy is waiting for you.

In both the above cases, depending on the nearby subject, the verb is in clear agreement with the adjacent noun

Rule 4:

When using ‘doesn’t’, be careful to use it with a singular subject, as it is a contraction of does not. Similarly, ‘don’t’ is a contraction of ‘do not’ and has to be used with a plural subject. There are exceptions to this rule when used for first person and second person pronouns, I and you. In such cases, the contraction ‘don’t’ should be used.

Example:

  • The house owner doesn’t like people throwing garbage there.
  • They don’t like the way it is painted.
  • I don’t like ice-cream.
  • You don’t decide the game rules.

According to the rules, the use of don’t and doesn’t has been specified using examples.

Rule 5:

Do not be confused by phrases found between the subject and the verb. The verb should agree with the subject and not the noun or pronoun in the phrase.

Example:

  • The people who listen to that kind of music are very few.
  • The first few chapters of the novel are boring.
  • The old woman, along with her dogs, is walking down the street.

The main highlight is laid on the subject and the verb. Finally, the verb should agree with the subject and the phrase in between them should not be given much importance.

Rule 6:

‘Each, either, neither, everyone, everybody, anybody, anyone, nobody, somebody, someone and no one’ are all singular and hence they require a singular verb.

Example:

  • Sorry sir, neither of them is available in the hospital.
  • Like I said, each one is capable of doing it.
  • Everybody knows the truth about you.

Rule 7:

Words like Civics, mathematics, dollars, measles and news are the nouns that require singular verbs.

Example:

  • Civics is a textual subject.
  • Mathematics is universally considered difficult by children of all classes.

Here, in the case of currency there is an exception. When you are talking about a specific amount of money for something, you have to use a singular verb whereas when considering currencies themselves, you have to use a plural verb.

  • Ten dollars for that vase is a lot of money.
  • Dollars are used instead of rubles in Russia.
  • Ten thousand rupees is not a big amount these days.
  • Rupees have not been Indian currency forever; they used gold coins long back.

Rule 8:

Scissors, tweezers, trousers and shears are things which always occur as pairs and hence, require plural verbs.

Example:

  • These trousers are short.
  • Those scissors are no longer usable.

These nouns have to be used with plural verbs in your sentences.

Rule 9:

In sentences that begin with ‘there is’ or ‘there are’, the subject follows the verb. Since, ‘there’ is not the subject, the verb agrees with what follows.

Example:

  • There are many monkeys in this part of the city.
  • There is a hole in that bucket.

Based on whether, you use ‘there is’ or ‘there are ‘, the subject follows the verb.

Rule 10:

Collective nouns are words that imply more than one person but are considered singular and take a singular verb such. Nouns such as group, team, committee, faculty, jury, class and family, etc, are considered single entities and appear with singular verbs. Sometimes, however, if the members of the group are considered individually, then the plural verb is used.

Examples:

      • The family drives to Canada every summer.
      • The faculty recommends students to read the textbooks thoroughly.

If individual members of the team are considered then the sentences use plural verbs.

      • The staff members disagree to that statement.

In order to make sure your piece of writing is error-free, it is inevitable for you to ensure that each part of your sentence satisfies the subject verb agreement rules. This article aimed to provide you examples with the rules incorporated in them. Ensure that you make the best use of the aforementioned rules and understand things in such details that you are confident while building your sentences.

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