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.
- 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.
- In the first sentence, singular helping verb ‘has’ is used because the subject ‘David’ is singular.
- In the second sentence, the plural helping verb ‘have’ is used for plural subject ‘David and Sara’.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- None of them was ready to take a risk.
- Everyone was laughing.
- Each of these fruits is delicious.
- Somebody is knocking at the door.