SUBJECT VERB AGREEMENT
Singularsubjects requiresingular verbsandpluralsubjects requireplural verbs.Example1:He walks.Example2:They walk.
Two singular subjects connected byorornorrequire asingularverb.
Example: My aunt or my uncle is arriving by train today.
Two singular subjects connected byeither/ororneither/norrequire asingularverb.
Example1:Neither Juan nor Carmen is available.
Example2:EitherKianaor Casey is helping today with stage decorations.
WhenIis one of the two subjects connected byeither/ororneither/nor, put itsecondand follow it with the singular verbam.
Example:Neither she nor I am going to the festival.
When asingular subjectis connected byorornorto aplural subject, put the plural subjectlastand use apluralverb.
Example: The serving bowl or the plates go on that shelf.
When asingularandpluralsubject are connected byeither/ororneither/nor, put theplural subject lastand use aplural verb.
Example:Neither Jenny nor the others are available.
As a general rule, use apluralverbwithtwo or moresubjects when they are connected byand.
Example:A car and a bike are my means of transportation.
Sometimes the subject is separated from the verb by words such asalong with,as well as,besides,ornot.Ignorethese expressions when determining whether to use a singular or plural verb.
Example1:The politician, along with the newsmen, is expected shortly.Example2:Excitement, as well as nervousness, is the causeof her shaking.
The pronounseach,everyone,every one,everybody,anyone,anybody,someone,andsomebodyaresingularand requiresingularverbs. Do not be misled by what followsof.
Example1:Eachof the girls sings well.Example2:Everyoneof the cakes is gone.
With words that indicate portions—percent,fraction,part,majority,some,all,none,remainder,and so forth —look at thenounin yourofphrase (object of the preposition) to determine whether to use a singular or plural verb. If the object of the preposition issingular, use asingular verb. If the object of the preposition isplural, use aplural verb.
Example1:Fifty percent of the pie has disappeared.Example2:None of the sentences were punctuated correctly.
The expressionthe numberis followed by asingularverb while the expressiona numberis followed by apluralverb.
Example1:The number of people we need to hire is thirteen.Example2:A number of people have written in about this subject.
Wheneitherandneitherare subjects, they always takesingularverbs.
Example1:Neither of them is available to speak right now.Example2:Either of us is capable of doing the job.
The wordshereandtherehave generally been labeled asadverbseven though they indicate place. In sentencesbeginningwithhereorthere, thesubject follows the verb.
Example1:There are fourhurdlesto jump.Example2:There is a highhurdleto jump.
Use asingularverb withsums of moneyorperiods of time.
Example1:Ten dollars is a high price to pay.Example2:Five years is the maximum sentence for that offense.
Sometimes the pronounwho,that, orwhichis the subject of a verb in the middle of the sentence. The pronounswho, that, andwhichbecome singularorpluralaccordingto the noun directly in frontof them. So, if that noun is singular, use a singular verb. If it is plural, use a plural verb.
Example1:Salmais the scientist who writes the reports.The word in front ofwhoisscientist, which is singular. Therefore, use the singular verbwrites.Example2:He is one of the men who do the work.The word in front ofwhoismen, which is plural. Therefore, use the plural verbdo.
Collective nouns such asteamandstaffmay be eithersingular or pluraldepending on theirusein the sentence
Example1:The staff is in a meeting.Example2:The staff are in disagreement about the findings.
Neither the lion tamer nor the clowns are/ is signing any autographs tonight.Neither of America’s major political parties are/ is interested in making the trade balance an important issue in the recent elections.Also allowed by the newer and more liberal investment law was/ weretax shelters, now commonly used by people of all classes.The requirements for becoming an astronaut are/ is knowledge of physics and physical fitness rather than simple bravery and a sense of adventure.A brand new committee of residents and business owners has/ have spoken with the town board to express its feelings about proposals for a new park in the neighborhood.