2017/06/16

[Sentences] 20 Rules of Subject and Verb Agreements


Subjects and Verbs What are They?

Verbs are action words such as eat, sleep, talk, walk, buy all verbs.
Subjects are the thing or person doing the action of the verb.

Examples:
  • I eat.
  • The dog sleeps.
  • Harry talks a lot.
  • They run for the bus.




The Rules of Subject and Verb Agreement

1. A subject verb agreement means the subject and verb must agree in number.  This means both need to be singular or both need to be plural.

The cat meows when she is angry.  The cats meow when they are angry.

2. The words that come between the subject and verb do not affect agreement.

The cat, who is chewing on my slipper, is usually very good.

3. Prepositional phrases between verbs and subjects don't usually affect agreement.

The colours of the rainbow are beautiful.

4. Sentences starting with "there" or "here", the subject will always be placed after the verb, care needs to be taken to identify it correctly.

There is a problem with the spreadsheet. Here are the papers you requested.

5. In questions, subjects don't always come before verbs.  Make sure you identify the subject before deciding on the proper verb form to use.

Where are the pieces of the jigsaw?

6.  A plural verb is required if two subjects are joined by "and".

The  cow and pig are jumping over the moon.

7. If two subjects are separated by "and" and refer to the same person, the verb is singular.

Black beans and rice is my mom's favourite dish.

8.  When the words "each," "every," or "no" comes before the subject, the verb is singular.

No drinking or smoking allowed.  Every man and woman is required to check in.

9.  When the subjects are both singular and are connected by the words "or," "nor," "neither/nor," "either/or," and "not only/but also" the verb is singular.

Mary or Harry is to blame for the accident.

10. Objects and prepositions only factor into the decision of plural or singular verbs forms is when noun and pronoun subjects like "some," "half," "none," "more," or "all" are followed by a prepositional phrase.  The object of the preposition determines the form of the verb.

All of the chicken is gone.  All of the chickens are gone.

11.  A singular verb is usually used for units of measurement or time.

Three quarts of oil was required to get the car started.

12.  If both subjects are plural and are connected by the words "or," "nor," "neither/nor," and "not only/but also" the verb is plural.

Cats and dogs are available at the pound.

13.  If the words "or," "nor," "neither/nor," "either/or." and "not only/but also" are connected to one singular subject and one plural, you use the verb form of the subject that is the nearest verb.

Either the lions or the bear has escaped from the zoo.  Neither lion nor the bears have escaped from the zoo.

14.  Indefinite pronouns typically take singular verbs.  Everybody wants to be loved.

15.  Other than the pronouns "few," "many," "several," "both,"all," and "some" that always take the plural form.

Few were left alive after the crash.

16.  Two infinitives separated by "and" they take the plural form of the verb.

To walk and to chew gum require great skill.

17.  If gerunds are used as the subject of a sentence, they take the singular form of the verb, except when they are linked by "and," they take the plural form.

Standing in the mud was a bad idea.  Swimming in the sea and playing the flute are my hobbies.

18.  Shared nouns like "herd," "senate," "class," and "crowd," usually take a singular verb form.

The herd is stampeding.

19.  The titles of books, movies and novels, etc. are treated as singular and take a singular verb.

Forrest Gump is a movie starring Tom Hanks.

20.  Final Rule - Always remember, only the subject affects the verb!

Read More About Writing: What is a Sentence?The Five Elements of a SentenceWhat You Need to Know About Simple, Compound and Complex Sentences20 Rules of Subject and Verb AgreementsCommon Pronoun ErrorsHow Long Should a Sentence Be?

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