NOTE: Subject-Verb concord is one of the most tested grammar concepts in competitive examinations.
Let us begin the fun and games with the essential rules that guide you through this maze!
Is it is or are? Go, or goes? Has or have?
Whether a verb is singular or plural depends on any one of a complicated set of factors. Here is a roll of rules for subject-verb agreement (or “Here are some rules . . .”):
RULE 1: When two subjects are joined by ‘and’, the verb is plural.
For example: My friend and his father are in England.
RULE 2: When the word ‘enemy’ is used in the sense “armed forces” of a nation with which one’s country is at war, we have to use the plural verb.
For example: The enemy were forced to retreat.
RULE 3: When two singular nouns joined by ‘and’ refer to the same person or thing, the verb is singular.
For example: The secretary and treasurer has been arrested.
- article ‘the’ is used only once when the two nouns refer to the same person or thing.
- If the two nouns refer to different persons or things, article ‘the ‘is used before each noun. In such cases, the verb will be in the plural form.
For example: The secretary and the president have been given warm welcome.
RULE 4: The names of sports teams, are treated as plurals, regardless of the form of that name.
For example: England have won the world cup.
RULE 5: If two different singular nouns express one idea, the verb should be in the singular form.
For example: This is the long and the short case study of the matter.
RULE 6: ‘Barracks’, headquarters, ‘whereabouts’ ‘aims’ etc. take a singular verb, as well as the plural verb.
For example: The headquarters of the GNB bank are in London.
RULE 7: When two singular subjects are practically synonymous the verb should be in the singular form.
For example: His power and position has no charm for him anymore.
RULE 8: When the percentage or a part of something is mentioned with plural meaning the plural verb is used.
For example: 20 of every 100 women are illiterate.
RULE 9: If two singular subjects (combined by and) are preceded be each other or every, the verb should be in the singular.
For example: Every man and every woman has the right to express oneself.
RULE 10: When a lot of, a great deal of, plenty of, most of, and some of refer to number, a plural verb is used.
For example: Only some of the students were present in the class.
NOTE: If these expressions refer to an amount, the verb is in the singular sense.
For example: A lot of has to be completed.
RULE 11: When the subjects joined by ‘either or’ or ‘neither nor’ are of different persons, the verb will agree in person and number with the noun nearest to it. Also, the plural subject must be placed nearest to it.
For example: Neither you nor he is going to work on this.
RULE 12: Collective nouns indicating time, money and measurements used as a whole are singular and take a singular verb
For example: Two miles is too much for her to walk.
RULE 13: If connectives like with, together with, as well as, accompanied by etc. are used to combine two subjects the verb agrees with the subject mentioned first.
For example: Mr. Sharma, accompanied by his wife and their children is going on a holiday.
RULE 14: A number of/ the number or
Observe the two structures:
- A number of + plural noun+ plural verb.
- The number of + plural noun + singular verb.
For example: A number of students are going on holidays this summer.
RULE 15: When ‘not only…..but also’ is used to combine two subjects, the verb agrees with the subject close to it.
For example: Not only Shivam, but also his brothers were arrested.
RULE 16: Majority can be singular or plural. If it is alone it is usually singular, if it is followed by a plural noun, it is usually plural.
For example: The majority of the students copied in the examination.
RULE 17: None/ No
None can take either a singular or a plural verb depending on the noun which follows it.
Structure: none+ of the+ non-countable noun+ singular verb
For example: none of the counterfeit money was found.
Structure: none+ of the+ plural countable noun+ plural verb.
For example: None of the students have finished the paper yet.
NO can take either a singular or plural verb depending on the noun which follows it.
Structure: No+ singular noun+ singular verb non countable noun
For example: No example is relevant to this question.
Structure: No+ plural noun+ plural verb.
For example: No examples are relevant to this case.
RULE 18: Many words indicating a number of people or animals are singular. The following nouns are usually singular.
In some cases they are plural if the sentence indicates that the individual members are acting separately.
Congress jury group
minority class organizations
More to be added on the topic soon.
Article written by Megha Saini.