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6/29/2016

SUBJECTVERBAGREEMENT

SUBJECTVERBAGREEMENT

Thesubjectandtheverbmustagreeinnumber:bothmustbesingularorbothmustbe
plural.Studentshaveproblemswithsubjectverbagreementwhentheverbisaformof
beorhave,orwhentheverbisinpresenttense.

Rulesforsubjectverbagreement
1.Whenwordslikethefollowingareusedassubjects,theytakesingularverb.

Everybody
Everyone
Everything

Anybody
Anyone
Anything

Somebody
Someone
Something

Nobody
Noone
Nothing

Each
Either
Neither

Everybodyknowstheanswer.
NobodyspeaksGermanhere.
Somebodywasintheroom.
2.Wheneveryandeachcomebeforeasingularsubjectjoinedbyand,theverbis
singular.

Everymanandwomanhastherighttovote.
Eachstudentandteacherwasawareofthedifficulty.

3.Prepositionalphrasesthatcomebetweenthesubjectandtheverbdonotchange
thenumberofthesubject.

Theteacheraswellasthestudentswasworkingontheproblem.
Themothertogetherwithherchildreniswaiting.

Someexamplesofprepositionalphrasesthatfunctionlikethatare:
Aswellas
Inadditionto
Togetherwith
Alongwith
Except

4.Whentheverbcomesbeforethesubjectasinthereorheresentences,itagrees
withthesubjectthatimmediatelyfollowstheverb.

Thereisatreeinthegarden.
Therearemanytreesinthegarden.
Thereisapinetreeandsomeoaksinthegarden.

Theregoesthecat.
Thereseemstobearelationship.
Thereariseproblems.
Therearisesaproblem.

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5.Introductoryitisalwayssingular.

Itismysisterwhoworksinthehospital.
Itismycatswhichcausethetrouble.

6.Subjectsjoinedbyandtakeapluralverb(exceptfornumber2).

MysisterandbrotherliveinBerlin.
Boththeteacherandthestudentweresurprised.

7.Several,many,both,fewarepluralwordsandtakeapluralverb.

Botharehappywiththegradestheygot.
Manywerelostontheway.
Fewhavedonetheirhomework.

8.Somenounsarealwayspluralandalwaystakeapluralverb.

Trousers,pants,slacks,shorts,briefs,jeans
Glasses,sunglasses
Scissors,pliers,tweezers

Myjeansareold.
Thisyearshortsareinfashion.
Wherearemyscissors?

9.Somewordssuchasnone,any,all,more,most,some,majority,halfmaytake
eithersingularorpluralverbsdependingonthemeaning.

Allthemoneyhasbeenspent.
Allofthestudentsknowtheanswer.

10.Whensubjectsarejoinedbywordssuchasneither,either,notonlytheverbmust
agreewiththeclosersubject.

Eitherthemanorhiswifeknowstheanswer.
Eitherthemanorhisfriendsknowtheanswer.
Eitherthechildrenorthemanknowstheanswer.

11.Collectivenounsareusuallysingularwhenregardedasaunit.

MyfamilylivesinAnkara.
Ourteamhaswoneverygamethisyear.

Sometimeswhenthemembersareseenasfunctioningindependently,these
collectivenounsmaybeplural.

Myfamilyhavealotofmoney.(membersofmyfamily)
Ourteamareworkinghardtowineverygametheyplay.(teammembers)

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Somecollectivenounsinthisgroupare:
Family,team,crew,class,government,committee

12.Somenounshavethesamesingularandpluralform.Theytakesingularorplural
verbdependingonthemeaning.

ThisspeciesofmonkeyslivesonlyinIndia.
Therearemanyspeciesofmonkeys.

Somenounsinthisgroupare:
Species,series,deer,fish,sheep

13.Expressionsstatingamountoftime,money,weight,volumearepluralinformbut
takeasingularverbasin:

Threeweeksisalongtime.
Twohundreddollarsisalotofmoney.

14.Somenounslookpluralwithsbuttheytakeasingularverb.

Sciences
Abstractnouns
Diseases
Physics
News
Measles
Mathematics
Politics
Mumps
Statistics
Ethics

Economics

Mathsisfounddifficultbymanystudents.
Statisticsrequirescomplicatedmethods.

15.Genericreferenceswiththerequirepluralverb.

Thericharenotalwayshappy.
Theyoungliketolistentoloudmusic.
Theoldhateloudmusic.
TheEnglisharedistantandtheFrencharehumorous.

16.Notetheuseofforeignplurals.

Singular
Plural
Analysis
Analyses
Thesis
Theses
Crisis
Crises
Basis
Bases
Parenthesis
Parentheses

Curriculum
Curricula
Memorandum
Memoranda
Datum
Data
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Bacterium
Medium

Criterion
Phenomenon

Stimulus
Radius
Syllabus

Bacteria
Media

Criteria
Phenomena

Stimuli
Radii
Syllabi

17.DontforgetthatsomecommonEnglishwordshaveirregularplurals.

Plural
Singular
Child
Children
Person
People

18.Arelativepronountakesasingularorpluralverbdependingonwhichnounit
modifies.

LisaisoneofthestudentswhohavepassedwithanA.(Manystudentspassed
withanA,Lisaisoneofthem.)
LisaistheonlyoneofmystudentswhohaspassedwithanA.(OnlyLisapassed
withanA.)

Someoftherulesforsubjectverbagreementinthispaperhavebeenadapted
fromBuildingSkillsfortheTOEFLbyC.KingandN.Stanley,Nelson,1989

WrittenbyZelihaGulcat,July2004

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