english grammer for CBSE Students

Subject-Verb Agreement

The subject-verb agreement refers to the rules of English grammar for using correct verb according to singular or plural subject in a sentence.

Basic rule: A singular verb is used for a singular subject whereas a plural verb is used for a plural subject in a sentence.

Examples:

  • David has shifted to a new house.
  • David and Sara have shifted to a new house.
  • David, along with his wife, has shifted to a new home.
  1. In the first sentence, singular helping verb ‘has’ is used because the subject ‘David’ is singular.
  2. In the second sentence, the plural helping verb ‘have’ is used for plural subject ‘David and Sara’.
  3. In the third sentence, though there are two persons but the use of ‘along with’ separates the subject ‘David’ to be treated as singular, that is why a singular helping verb ‘has’ is used for the subject ‘David’ The rules of subject-verb agreement are as follows:

Rule 1: If nouns or pronouns joined by and, use a plural verb.

Example:

  • John and David are going to a zoo.
  • He and his friend have finished the work.
  • A male and a female were selected for the job.

Rule 2: If two or more singular nouns or pronouns are joined by either/or or neither/nor, a singular verb will be used.

Example:

  • Neither David nor Sara is interested in music.
  • Either he or his brother has written this poem.
  • David, John or Sara has to answer the question.

Rule 3: If singular and plural nouns are connected by or nor, the verb will be used according to the noun nearest to it.

Example:

  • Either the boy or the girls have cleaned the room.
  • Either the girls or the boy has cleaned the room.
  • Neither he nor his friends were attending the classes.
  • Neither his friends nor he was attending the classes.

Rule 4: If a singular noun is connected to a plural noun by word of , a singular verb will be used.

Example:

  • The list of guidelines were prepared (Wrong)
  • The list of guidelines was prepared. (Correct)
  • A group of students are trained for the competition. (Wrong)
  • A group of students is trained for the competition. (Correct)

Rule 5: Sometimes, a singular noun is connected to other nouns with words such as together with, as well as, along with, in addition to, besides, accompanied by. Such a phrase is not treated as part of the subject. A singular verb will be used in such cases.

Example:

  • John, accompanied by his friends, is going to a cinema.
  • He, along with other students, was awarded a prize.
  • She, as well as her brother, has applied for a visa.

Rule 6: A collective noun expresses more than one person but it will be treated as singular and singular verb will be used for it, such as committee, team, family and so on.

Example:

  • Our team is playing well.
  • The committee has prepared a report.
  • His family was concerned about his studies.

Rule 7: In sentences starting with there or here, the verb will be used according to the words that follow it.

Example:

  • There are many people in the market.
  • There is a huge number of people in the market.
  • Here are some instructions for the exam.
  • Here is a list of instructions for the exam.

Rule 8: The words such as every, each, either,neither, none, any, nobody, no one, somebody and everyone are singular. Hence, a singular verb will be used for these words.

Example:

  • None of them was ready to take a risk.
  • Everyone was laughing.
  • Each of these fruits is delicious.
  • Somebody is knocking at the door.

 

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