Introduction: Subject-Verb agreement is one of the most important topics in Grammar. It can be called the structure or the skeleton. For correct and confident English, you have to have a good understanding of this agreement. Subject- Verb agreement is based on two basic rules.
SUBJECT is SINGULAR__________VERB is SINGULAR
(i) He writes poem. (Sing. Sub. Sing. Verb) Setting arrangement of underlined examples.
(ii) Vinay goes to office. (Sing. Sub. Sing. Verb)
(i) With I, excluding am and was, there is always a Plural subject.
(ii) You always stakes a Plural subject.
SUBJECT is PLURAL__________VERB is PLURAL
(i) They are riding a bicycle. (Plural Sub. Plural Verb)
(ii) We are planning to visit Canada. (Plural Sub. Plural Verb)
In general, the number and person of any Finite Verb are corresponding to the number and person of the subject.
(i) They play. (Plural Sub. Finite verb)
(ii) She plays. (Singular Sub. Finite verb)
Here in (i), play is a Finite verb, where 'They' is a plural subject in the plural form.
But in (ii), play is a Finite verb, where it is with the singular subject 'She' and in singular form.
Subjects and verbs must agree with one another in number (singular or plural). Thus, if a subject is singular, its verb must also be singular, if a subject is plural, its verb must also be plural.
Remember that, problems related to subject-verb agreement are normally found with the usage of associated subjects like ? is are, am, was, were, do, does, have, has, etc. or with main subject in Present Indefinite Tense.
Let Us Check a Few Different Conditions Related to Subject-Verb Agreement.
1. If the subject of a sentence is singular noun, then it takes a singular verb.
(i) Kate is always punctual. (Sing. Noun Sing. Verb)
(ii) A visitor has come to see us. (Sing. Noun Sing. Verb)
2. If two singular nouns are joined with and then the verb is plural.
(i) Rahul and Anita have gone home. (Sing. Noun Sing. Noun Plural Verb)
(ii) A computer and a printer have been installed. (Sing. Noun Sing. Noun Plural Noun)
3. If two singular nouns are joined with and, but before them there is each every, etc., then it takes a singular verb.
(i) Each officer and each manager is invited. (each Sing. Noun each Sing. Noun Sing. Verb
(ii) The duty of every boy and every girl is to respect their parents. (every Sing. Noun every Sing. Noun Sing. Verb)
4. If two singular nouns are joined with and to express something about a person, thing or expression, then singular verb is used.
Bread and Butter is my favorite breakfast. (Sing. Noun Sing. Noun Sing. Verb) A few other such pair of nouns are - Bread and butter / Rice and curry / Horse and carriage / Hammer and Sickle / Crown and glory, etc. Exception: If two such nouns are used to denote two different things, then it takes a plural verb.
Crown and glory exist together. (noun noun Plural verb)
5. If two nouns or pronouns are joined with- as well as / in addition to / besides / like/ unlike / with / along with / together with / accompanied by I led by / headed by / guided by / controlled by / governed by, etc., then the verb is according to the noun or pronoun given in the first case in the sentence.
(i) You as well as your brother were absent yesterday. (noun noun Plural verb)
(ii) She together with her friends is visiting her uncle. (noun noun Plural verb)
6. If two subjects are joined by - Not only.....but also Neither......nor Either.....or then, the verb always follows its nearest subject.
(i) neither you nor I am going to see him. (subject subject verb)
(ii) Neither you nor she is listening to music. (subject subject verb)
7. If subjects are joined with not.....but or not, then the verb follows that subject, which is not with the subject not.
(i) Not she but her friends are responsible. (subject verb)
(ii). She not her friends is responsible. (subject verb)
8. If the subject of a sentence is - Each / Either / Neither, then it takes as angular verb.
(i) I invited two guests but neither has come. (subject Singular verb)
(ii) He proposed both the girls but either has responded. (subject Singular verb)
9. After - Each of / Either of / Neither of / Everyone of / One of, etc., the noun or pronoun is always plural; but, the verb remains singular.
(i) Each of the snakes is poisonous. (Plural noun singular verb)
(ii) One of them has topped in exam. (Plural noun singular verb)
Look at this example:
The professor asked the student / if everyone of them / were ready to go / for a picnic on the coming Sunday. / No error (A/B/C/D/E) In this sentence (in part C), 'was' will be used instead of 'were'; because, after' everyone of', the noun or pronoun is always plural but the verb is singular.
10. If the subject of a sentence is Everybody / Somebody / Nobody / Anybody / Someone/ No one / Everyone / Anyone f Everything / Something / Nothing / Anything, etc., then the verb always singular.
(i) Everybody knows that the sun is a star. (Subject Sing. Verb)
(ii) Someone among his friends likes partying. (subject Sing. Verb)
11. If the subject of a sentence is Many / Both / Few / A few, etc., then the verb is always plural.
(i) Both are beautiful and charming. (Subject Plural Verb)
(ii) Many were invited but a few have attended the ceremony. (Subject Plural Verb)
12. After - Both of / A few of / Few of/ Many of, etc., the noun or pronoun is plural, which is followed by a plural verb.
Many of the visitors are European. (Noun Plural Verb)
13. After - Many / A great many / A good many, etc., the noun is always plural, which is followed by a plural verb.
A great many girls are swimming in the pool. (noun Plural verb) But there is an exception.
After 'Many a', both the noun and verb in a sentence are always singular.
Many a song is soothing. (Sing. Noun Sing. Verb)
14. After-A number of / A large number, etc. the noun is plural, which is followed by a plural verb.
A number of students have taken the test. (Plural noun Plural verb) But, there is an exception.
After-The number of, however, the noun is plural, the verb is always singular.
The number of low-floor buses is increasing in Delhi. (Plural noun Singular verb)
15. After - Some / Some of/AII / All of / Enough / Most / Most of/ A great deal of / Lots of/A lot of / Plenty of, etc., if there is a countable noun/ it is always a plural one and also the verb is plural.
(i) All men are mortal. (Plural noun Plural verb)
(ii) Lots o/actors were present in the show. (Plural noun Plural verb)
16. After - Half of / One third of/ Two thirds of/ Three fourth s of, etc. if the noun is countable, it is always a plural and also the verb is plural.
Half of the workers are on strike today. (Plural noun Plural verb) But, the exception is - If the noun is uncountable, it is always singular and the verb is also singular.
Three fourths of the majority has been elected. (Singular noun Singular verb)
17. After - More than one, there is always a singular noun followed by singular verb.
(i) More than one hall is booked. (Sing. Noun Sing. Verb)
But, there is an exception. Look at the construction: After - More + Plural Noun + than one, the verb is always plural.
More workers than one are late. (Plural noun Plural verb)
18. If There / It is used as introductory subjects in a sentence, then the verb with There is decided considering the usage of number and person of the noun that comes after There.
(i) There was a tiger in the village. (Singular verb Singular noun)
(ii) There were two tigers in the village. (Plural verb Plural noun)
19. If with the construction: Numeral + Plural Noun, there is any definite unit / distance / weight / height, etc., then the verb is always singular.
(i) Ten thousand rupees is a good amount. (Numerical Plural noun Singular verb)
(ii) five tons of rice is enough for my family. (Numerical Plural noun Singular verb)
Exception : If it refers to different units in the construction of Numerical Adjective + Plural Noun, then it takes a plural verb.
Fifty thousand rupees have been spent for the construction. (Numerical Plural noun Plural verb)
20. If who I which / that is used in the form of a relative pronoun, then the verb to follow depends on the number and person of its antecedent.
(i) I, who am a doctor, practice here. (relative pronoun Sing. verb)
(ii) The men who are present here did not vote. (relative pronoun Plural verb)
Look at the example below.
One of the problems/which was discussed / in the conference /was raised by him. / No error (A/B/C/D/E) In this sentence (in part B), 'was' should be replaced by 'were'; because, 'which' is a relative pronoun and its antecedent 'the problems' is plural. So accordingly, the verb will also be a plural one.
21. If certain expressions like unfulfilled wish / condition / desire in the present state is to be brought into expression - with the use of if / as if/ as though / I wish / it is time / it is high time, etc. along with which 'to be' is used, then only its 'were' form is used provided whatever be the number and person of the subject.
I wish I were an angel. (unfulfilled wish Plural verb)
Look at the example below.
If I was you / I would have requested / the workers / to complete / the work today itself. / No error. (A/B/C/D/E)
In this sentence (in part A), 'were' should be used in place of 'was'; because, in the present state to denote unfulfilled wish / condition / desire, etc. - with if I as if/ as though / I wish / it is time / it is high time, etc. 'to be' is used, then its 'were' form is only used.
22. If two pronouns are joined with and, then it takes a plural verb.
(i) I and he are liable. (Pronoun Pronoun Plural verb)
(ii) You and she have climbed the tree. (Pronoun Pronoun Plural verb)