Subject verb Agreement Rules
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Definition: (Subject-verb Agreement Rules) In a sentence, the verb must agree with the subject. In other words, we can say that the verb used is according to person and number. This is called the subject-verb agreement. For example:
- He comes. (If the subject is singular the verb must also be singular.)
- They come. (If the subject is plural the verb must also be plural.)
(Check more examples, Subject-verb agreement examples).
We need to be familiar with singular and plural verbs.
|Singular Verb||Plural Verb|
|V1 + s/es (plays, goes etc.)||V1 (play, go etc.)|
TOP 26 Rules of Subject-Verb Agreement with examples
To go Subject-Verb agreement Rules first you have to know the basic difference between verb and noun.
Noun + s/es = Plural noun (Noun become plural when es/s is added)
Verb + s/es = Singular Noun (Verb becomes singular with s/es is added)
If two subjects are joined by ‘and‘, the plural verb will be used.
Example: Ram and Shyam are coming.
If two or more than two nouns are adjectives are joined by ‘and’ but only person or thing or idea is discussed singular verb will be used.
- My friend, philosopher and guide have come. (change ‘have‘ to ‘has‘)
- Slow and steady win the race. (change ‘win‘ into ‘wins‘)
- Fish and chips is my favourite dish. (no error)
If two uncountable nouns are joined by ‘and‘ and if tow different subjects are discussed, plural verb will be used.
Example: Poverty and misery come together.
If the subject is joined by ‘as well as‘, ‘with‘, ‘alongwith‘, ‘together with‘, ‘and not‘, ‘In addition to‘, ‘but‘, ‘besides‘, ‘except‘, ‘rather than‘, ‘accompained by‘, ‘like‘, ‘unlike‘, ‘no less than‘, ‘nothing but‘, the verb will agree with the first subject.
- Ram, as well as his parents, is coming.
- The captain along with the sailors was drowned.
- My father, unlike my uncles, is very strict.
If an article is placed just before the 1st subject, it means the person/think is the same for which two nouns are used. Hence singular verb will be used.
- A white and black gown was bought by her.
- Churchil was a great orator and a great politician of his time. (wrong)
Churchil was a great orator and politician of his time. (right)
But if an article is used before every subject, it refers to different people/things.
Hence plural verb will be used.
Example: The director and the producer have come.
If two subjects are joined by ‘neither….nor‘, ‘either … or‘, ‘not only‘, …’but also‘, ‘nor‘, ‘or‘, ‘none-but‘, the verb will agree with the nearest subject.
- Neither Ram nor Shyam has come.
- Either Ram or his friends have come.
- Has Ram or Shyam come?
‘Neither of‘ means ‘not either of the two things or people‘.
Neither of the judges of the division bench knew about the facts of the case. (Correct)
- ‘None of‘ means ‘not one of the groups of things or people‘.
- Neither of his four sons looked after him. (incorrect)
- None of his four sons looked after him.
- ‘Either of‘ means ‘one of the two things or people‘.
- Either of the five members is at fault. (incorrect)
- One of the five members is at fault. (correct)
- Either of the twins will be made the trustee. (correct)
Note: ‘Not’ is not used with ‘both‘. For this purpose ‘neither of‘ is used.
- Both of them did not take the exam.
- Neither of them took the exam.
Certain nouns are plural in form but singular in meaning. Hence they take singular verb.
|Names of diseases||Measles, Mumps, Rickets, Shingles etc.|
|Names of games||Billiards, Darts, Draughts etc.|
|Names of Countries||The United States, The West Indies etc.|
|Names of books||The Arabian Nights, Three Musketeers etc.|
|Names of subjects||Physics, Economics, Civics, Statistics, Politics, Linguistics.|
- Mathematics is an interesting subject
- Politics is not my cup of tea.
Note: If ‘Statics‘ means ‘data‘, Mathematics‘ means ‘Calculation‘ and ‘Politics‘ means ‘Political thought‘, plural verb is used.
Example: Statics have revealed multiple scams in the organisation of the Commonwealth Games.
Usually, we match the verb with the nearest subject but this is wrong. Match the verb with the main subject of the sentence.
- The quality of apples is good.
- He and not his parents is guilty.
- The appeal of the victims for the transfer of the cases related to riots to some other states has been accepted.
Collective noun always takes a singular verb.
- The herd of cows is grazing in the field.
- The committee has unanimously taken its decision.
If there is a division among the members of the collective noun or we talk about the members of the collective noun, plural verb and plural pronoun are used.
- The jury are divided in their opinion.
- The audience have taken their seats.
The plural number will always take a plural verb.
Hundred boys are in my class.
Note: If plural noun is used after cardinal adjectives (one, two, three, four etc.) and if plural noun denotes certain amount, weight, height or period, singular verb will be used.
In other words, we can say that the plural numbers used as a singular unit will take a singular verb.
- Hundred rupees is in my pocket.
- Ten miles is a long distance to cover on foot.
Subject-verb Agreement Rules
If a subject and the verb are joined by a relative pronoun, the verb used will agree with the antecedent to the relative pronoun.
- She is one of the noblest women that has ever lived on this earth.
(That is a relative pronoun so here we use ‘have‘ in place of ‘has‘)
- I am not one of those who will trust everyone whom I meet.
(who is a relative pronoun so here we use ‘they meet‘ in place of ‘i meet‘
Note: Try to understand the meaning of the sentence in this type of questions.
Each, Every, Everyone, Someone, Somebody, Nobody, None, One, Any, Many a, More than one, are singular. Hence they will take a singular verb, singular noun, and singular pronoun.
- Each student has come.
- Each boy each girl has come.
- One must tolerate one’s friend as well as his enemy. (Use ‘one’s‘ in place of ‘his‘)
- Many a student have not done their homework. (Use ‘his‘ in place of ‘their‘)
- More than one man was present there.
Note: Many is used in the following ways:
- Many a man has come.
- Many men have come.
- A great /A good many men have come.
If ‘of‘ is used after each, every, one, etc. The noun or pronoun that comes immediately after ‘of‘ will be plural in form. However the verb, pronoun, adjective, etc. That comes in the latter part of the sentence will be singular in form.
Example: One of the boys/them has done his work.
If ‘each‘ is used after Plural noun or plural pronoun, plural verb is used.
We each have a duty towards our nation.
If Indefinite Pronoun ‘One‘ comes as the subject of a sentence, it takes singular verb and singular pronoun ‘one‘, ‘one’s‘, and ‘oneself‘ and not ‘he‘, ‘him‘, ‘his‘ or ‘himself‘. For example:
- One should keep his promise. (incorrect)
- One should keep one’s promise. (correct)
If a sentence states an imaginary position, it starts with if, as if, as though, suppose, I wish, in case, would that etc. In such sentences ‘were‘ is used the verb irrespective of the number of the subject.
- I wish, I were bird.
- If he were rich, he would help others.
An optative Sentences, singular subject takes plural verb.
Example: Long live the Queen.
(‘live‘ = plural verb, ‘queen‘ = singular subject)
A number of / ‘a large number of ‘/ ‘a great number of’ is used with plural countable noun. Hence they will take plural verb.
Examples: A number of students were present. (correct)
Note: A number of denotes the number of plural countable noun. It will take singular verb.
- The number of boys are fifty. (incorrect)
- The number of boys is fifty. (correct)
With uncountable nouns we use ‘Amount of /Quantity of’ followed by a singular verb.
- The amount of money are not sufficient. (correct)
- The amount of money is not sufficient. (correct)
‘All‘ can be used in both countable and uncountable sense. When used as uncountable, it takes singular verb and when used as countable, it takes plural verb.
- All is well that ends well.
- All are well at home.
Scenery, Poetry, Furniture, Advice, Information, Hair, Business, Mischief, Bread, Stationery, Crockery, Luggage, Baggage, Postage, Knowledge, Wastage, Jewelry, Breakage, Equipment, Evidence, Work (works means literary pieces), News, Percentage, Dirt, Dust, Traffic, Electricity, Music, Confectionery, pottery, Bakery, Behaviour, Word (When used in sense of discussion) Fuel and Cost are uncountable nouns and hence will take singular verb. These nouns will not take article. ‘A/An‘, ‘many‘, ‘few‘, ‘number of‘, and ‘plural form‘.
- The scenery of Kashmir has enchanted us.
- I passed the exam but the percentage of marks was not good.
- The mischief committed by him is unpardonable.
- His hair is black.
- I have some equipment that I needed for the project.
Such nouns have no plural form but sometimes we need the singular/plural form of some of these nouns. The singular/plural form is made by adding certain words before the uncountable nouns.
- He gave me a piece of information.
- All pieces of information given by her were reliable.
- Many kinds of furniture are available in that shop.
- I want a few articles of jewellery.
- He ate two slices of bread.
- Please show me some items of office stationery.
- The police have found a strand of hair in the car.
Note: Monies is the plural for of money which means amounts of money.
Monies have been collected and handed to the women’s welfare society.
Certain nouns exist in plural forms only. Thus ‘s’ cannot be removed from such nouns to make then singular. They take the plural verbs with them.
Scissors, tongs, pliers, bellows, trousers, pants, pajamas, shorts, Spectacles, goggles, binoculars, sunglasses, gallows, fangs, alms, amends, archives, arrears, auspices, congratulations, embers, fireworks, lodgings, outskirts, particulars, proceeds, regards, riches, remains, savings, shambles, surroundings, tidings, troops, tactics, thanks, valuables, wages, belongings, braces, etc.
- Where are my pants?
- Where are the tongs?
- The proceeds were deposited in the bank.
- All his assets were seized.
- Alms were give to the beggars.
- The embers of the fire were still burnings.
Note: Wages can be used in both singular & plural form. See the following sentences
Subject-verb Agreement Rules
News, innings, politics, summons, physics, economics, ethics, mathematics, mumps, measles, rickets, shingles, billiards, athletics are certain nouns that are plural in form but singular in meaning. They take singular verb.
- No news is good news.
- Politics is a dirty game.
- Economics is an interesting subject.
- Ethics demands honesty.
Cattle, cavalry, infantry, poultry, peasantry, children, gentry, police, and people are certain nouns are singular in form but plural in meaning. They take plural verb ‘s‘ is never used with these nouns.
- Cattle are grazing in the field.
- Our infantry have marched forward.
- Police have arrested the thieves.
Note: ‘People‘ means ‘a number of men‘ while ‘peoples‘ means ‘people of difference races’
Example: The greek peoples were brave (Here we are talking about only one race. Therefor the use of ‘people’ is wrong.)
Deer, sheep, series, species, fish, crew, team, jury, aircraft, counsel, are certain nouns that are used in both singular and plural form. If they are used in a singular sense, they take a singular verb and if they are used in the plural sense, they take a plural verb.
- Our team is the best.
- Our team are trying their new uniform.
- There are two fish in the pond.
- There are many fishes in the aquarium. (Here the word ‘fishes‘ refers to different species of fish.)
|1.||No||+ U.N||Singular Verb|
|2.||No||+ S.C.N||Singular Verb|
|3.||One-third of /three-fourth of / The rest of /A quarter of / Part of / Ten percent of / Twenty percent of||+ U.N.||Singular Verb|
|4.||One-third of / three-fourth of / Part of / Ten percent of / Twenty percent of||+ P.C.N||Plural Verb|
|5.||Most of / Some / Some of / Half of / Enough / Enough of / Not enough of / Plenty of / A lot of / Lots of||+ P.C.N||Singular Verb|
|6.||Most of / Some / Some of / Half of / Enough / Enough of / Not enough of / Plenty of / A lot of / Lots of||+ U.N.||Plural Verb|
|7.||The percentage of||+ U.N./P.C.N||Singular Verb|
|8.||More than one||+ S.C.N||Singular Verb|
|9.||More than two/three etc.||+ P.C.N||Plural Verb|
|10.||More||+ P.C.N. + Than one||Plural Verb|
The following sentences show how the rules given in the table are followed:
- No air is present on Mars.
- No students was interesting in taking the exam.
- One-third of the word has been finished.
- One-third of the students have passed.
- Ninety percent of the work is done.
- Most of the knowledge is gained by experience.
- Most of the girls are absent today.
- Ninety percent of the students have passed the exam with good marks.
- Half of the candidates have passed with flying colurs.
- Some of the students have no taken the exam
- The percentage of successful candidates is less.
- More than one city was ruined.
- More cities than one were in ruins.
- More than two thieves have been caught.
- More plans than one were made.
Note: See the difference between sentence 12 and 13
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