A verb must agree with its Number and Person.
In other words, the Verb of a sentence agrees with Number and Person of the Subject of that sentence.
Error of Proximity
Often, the ‘Verb’ is made to agree in number with a norm near it instead of its proper Subject. It is an error. This common error is called the ‘Error of Proximity’. It should be avoided. The verb must agree with its proper Subject.
|The price of the apples was very high.|
|The price of the apples were very high.|
The sentence no 2 is wrong because in it the verb ‘were’ is wrongly agreed with the noun ‘apples’ near it. It is an Error of Proximity.
The basic principle of Subject-Verb agreement is that singular subjects need singular verbs. Plural subjects need plural verbs:
|The girl is playing.||The girls are playing|
|The boy has gone to school.||The boys have gone to school|
|He likes sweets.||They like sweets.|
The rules regarding the person are as follows:
(i) The first person singular or plural takes a singular verb:
(ii) The second person singular or plural takes a singular verb:
(iii) The third person singular takes a singular verb:
(v) The third person plural takes a plural verb:
3. Uncountable Noun:
When we use an uncountable noun as the subject of a verb, we use a singular form of the verb:
4. Singular and Plural Nouns:
When we use a singular noun as the subject of a verb, we use a singular verb. Plural nouns take a plural verb:
5. One of + Plural Noun:
When the subject consists of ‘one of + plural noun’, the verb is singular:
6. Long Subject:
When a clause or a long group of words is the subject, we have to be careful to make the verb agree with the subject:
7. Introductory ‘there’:
The verb has to agree with the real subject that follows the introductory there. If the subject is singular, then there will be followed by a singular verb. If the real subject is plural, then ‘there’will be followed by a plural verb:
8. Two or More Nouns:
When two or more nouns function as subject, a plural verb is used:
9. Distances, Weight, etc:
For distances, weight, height or amounts of money, we use a singular verb even when the subject is plural:
10. Plural Names:
The title of a book, the name of a house or a hotel in plural takes a singular verb:
11. Plural Nouns with Singular Meaning:
Nouns which are plural in form but singular in meaning usually take a singular verb:
12. Singular Nouns with Plural Verb:
Some nouns which appear to be singular in form take a plural verb:
13. Collective nouns like group, crowd, flock, regiment, etc. are generally followed by a singular verb:
14. ‘Class’ nouns such as food, furniture, clothing, etc. take a singular verb:
15. Some nouns which appear to be plural in form when preceded by a pair of take a singular verb, for example, shoes, scissors, trousers, etc.
But when these nouns are used without ‘a pair of’, they take a plural verb:
16. Some nouns are preceded by a lot of, a plenty of, a great deal of, etc. These nouns take a singular verb when they refer to amount or quantity. But they take a plural verb when they refer to number:
17. When a singular subject is joined by as well as, in addition to, except, etc. with another noun or pronoun, we use a singular verb.
18. A singular verb is used with singular pronouns,
Examples: each, either, neither, anyone, etc.
19. When two or more subjects are connected by nor or or, the verb is used according to the number of the noun nearest to it:
20. A collective noun such as jury, committee, family, etc. takes a singular verb when it is considered one unit. But when they are regarded as individuals, they take a plural verb:
21. When some nouns are regarded as one unit, they take a singular verb: