what is Subject-Verb Agreement Rules ?

A verb describes an action or a state of being. A verb must always agree with its subject, in person and in number. Rules that to be kept in mind are: 



1. When two subjects are joined by the conjunction “and”, the subject becomes plural;hence the verb must be plural in form. For example: 

My son and daughter are equally good at English.


2. In case of two singular nouns referring to the same person, the verb must be singular. For example:

The minister and economist has been hospitalised after the accident.


3. If the subject is preceded by the words like 'each', 'every', 'any' etc. then the verb must be singular in form. For example:

Each of the students has done well in the examination.


4. More than one plural subject joined by 'either-or', 'neither-nor' must take a singular verb. For example:

Neither he nor I was allowed to enter the class.


5. A collective noun takes a singular verb. For example:

The committee has agreed to our demands.

(Note: A collective noun takes a plural verb when the components of the collection are spoken of as separate. For example: The Jury were divided in their opinion)








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There are so many Subject Verb agreement rules.

1.If the subject is singular, the verb is also singular, and if the subject is plural, the verb also has to be plural.

2.While a plural noun often ends with –s (houses, balls, books), it is usually a singular verb that ends with –s (stays, plays, reads).

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

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

5. When the subject contains both a singular and a plural noun or pronoun connected by ‘or’ or ‘nor’, the verb should agree with the part of the subject that is nearest to the verb.

6.The verb agrees with the subject, not with some other noun or pronoun in the phrase.

7.1.  The words each, each one, either, neither, everyone, everybody, anybody, anyone, nobody, somebody, someone and no one are singular and require a singular verb.

8.1.  Nouns like civics, mathematics, measles and news require singular verbs.

9.1.  Some proper nouns like ‘The Philippines’, ‘The United Nations’ or ‘Spinneys’ require singular verbs, though they end with an –s.

10.Nouns like scissors, trousers and tweezers always require plural verbs.  (There are two parts to these.)

11.1.  Certain nouns like ‘people’ always take plural verbs.

12.1.  Some nouns of nationality like ‘English’ and ‘Chinese’ can be used to mean either people or language.

13.Collective nouns usually require a singular verb

14.Expressions such as  together with, including, accompanied by, in addition to, or as well as) do not change the number of the subject. 

If the subject is singular, the verb is also singular.

15. A gerund is the –ing form of a verb used as the subject or the object of a sentence, e.g. playing.

16.When we use expressions of quantity like ‘some of’, ‘a lot of’ or ‘half of’, the verb is determined by the noun or pronoun that follows ‘of’.

17.In sentences beginning with there is or there are, the subject follows the verb. Since there is not the subject, the verb agrees with what follows.

18. Consider the following sentences.

·       - The number of students in my class is above forty.

·        - A number of issues have been addressed in the last meeting.

 ‘The number of’ in the first sentence acts as the subject of the first sentence.  So it takes a singular verb.

·         - The number of students in this school is approximately 10,000.

‘A number of’ in the second sentence only means ‘a lot of’.  So the verb should agree with the noun that follows it.

·        -  A number of students are late for class today.


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