Six rules of Subject Verb agreement

Subject Verb AgreementThere are a few of us who could use some quick lessons in the use of subject and verb in English.  You may have read a lot of rules and completed many sets of exercises to get them right, but here are six simple rules that will make it easy to comprehend and retain the lesson learnt.

Rule 1 – A singular subject uses a singular verb and a plural subject takes a plural verb.

How simple can it get?

Ex -The boy plays. ( Singular subject, singular verb)

The boys play. ( Plural subject, plural verb)

Rule 2 – When you use some or all in a sentence, the verb can be either singular or plural depending on whether the subject can be counted or not.

Ex-  Some of the chairs in the conference room are wobbly. ( You can count the chairs.)

Some of the tea from the teapot has spilt on the carpet. ( Tea is a non count subject.)

You can count tea if it were served in tea cups and thus if you say ” Six of the tea cups are cracked”, you will be right!

Rule 3 – When you use each, everyone, someone, anyone then the verb is always singular.

Each of you is responsible for the outcome.

Everyone in class has to have completed the exercise by Thursday.

Someone has to pick me up at the station tomorrow.

Rule 4 – When you use together with, along with or as well as even though they behave like conjunctions and link two phrases, the form of the verb will depend on the first subject.

If the first subject is singular, then the verb used is singular too.

The teacher ( First subject)along with the students ( Second subject) was at the marathon.

The students( first subject)together with the teacher( second subject) were at the celebrations after the marathon.

Rule 5 – When you use neither or either without the or and nor then the verb will always be singular. For ex –

Neither of the dresses she showed me was out of the world.

Will you prefer tea or coffee?

Either of them is ok.

Rule 6 – When neither or either is used in a sentence with the or and nor then the verb will always take the form of the second subject.

Neither Rajen nor his colleagues (second subject is plural) were at the meeting.

Either the engineers or Nair ( Second suject is singular) is representing the company at the conference.


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