In this section, we will see the following topics,

  • Introduction of Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Singular and Plural Verbs
  • Subject
  • Number in the Subject and Object
  • Exception of Subject-Verb Agreement

INTRODUCTION OF SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT

When discussing the subject-verb agreement, it’s helpful to remember that a singular subject takes a singular verb and a plural subject takes a plural verb.

Example:

  • The shop opens at nine.
  • The shops open at nine.

In other words, the ‘subject’ of a sentence is the noun to which the verb in the sentence refers, and so the two must always agree in number.

Conclusion: Agreement means making a verb agree in number with its subject. So, let us start with verbs to make it to agree with the subject.


SINGULAR AND PLURAL VERBS

Usually, we have no problem providing the correct form of the verb, but sometimes the structure of our sentences tricks us.

Example : The best thing about birthdays (is or are?) the presents.

Correct: The best thing about birthdays is the presents.

As seen in the above example, ensure the verb agrees with the true subject and not with an intervening plural object of a preposition or any other intervening plural. Remember, singular subjects take singular verbs of the same tense (is, was, has, does, goes, etc.) and plural subjects take plural verbs of the same tense (are, were, have, do, go, etc.)

Example 1:

  • The list (singular subject) of spare parts was (singular verb) long.
  • The lists (plural subject) of spare parts were (plural verb) long.

And above all, a third-person singular subject takes a verb form in ‘s’. ‘s’ added to a noun indicates the plural form but ‘s’ added to a verb indicates the third person or verb singular.

 

Example 2:

Subject and Verb – SingularSubject and Verb – Plural
Window (Noun singular) opens (verb +s)Windows (Noun + s) open (Verb plural)
She favours the move.They favour the move.

Conclusion: To make the formal agreement to happen, the verb form must be selected so that it has the same person as the subject.

Let us surpass the knowledge of subject in a sentence. But the gestures to know about subject won’t be enough unless we are thorough with nouns and their forms.


SUBJECT

As we know a sentence is group of words making some sense. There is a doer and some action is done. The doer is the subject and is usually noun or cluster of words forming the subject. Usually, it presides over the sentence.

Example:

  • Gopal reads. (Subject and Verb)

This is enough to frame or make a sentence with some sense. But in some sentences we have a cluster in the place of a word.

Example:

  • The young girl in the blue gown is behaving naughty.

Here, ‘The young girl in the blue gown’ is the subject. We find the cluster can be further considered.   ‘Girl’ is the subject word. The word, ‘Young’ is a describing word (Adjective).  ‘The’ is what we call an article definite in nature.  In modern grammar, the subject word is called the head word. The adjective is called a modifier.  `In the blue gown ‘is a qualifier.  This example is very easy and simple and we are comfortable.

When the sentence becomes very big and complicated we are liable to go wrong.

Conclusion: Some method must be arrived at to make a systematic study of this noun or subject cluster.  This can be done only by studying the subject group, starting with Nouns.


NUMBER IN THE SUBJECT AND OBJECT

There is sometimes a problem about number with an object. Compare these examples.

Example:

  • Measles is among the diseases that are curable.
  • This is only one of the local papers that prints a weekly horoscope.
  • You were very helpful during my stay with you.

A relative pronoun (who, which, that) used as a subject takes a singular or plural verb to accord with its antecedent.

A plural verb is always required after ‘you’ even when it is used in singular, referring to one person. Some exceptions lead to confusion.

Conclusion: We can concord the subject with its verb by making a verb agree in number with its subject.


EXCEPTION OF SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT

1.AND

A.Subjects joined by ‘and’ are usually plural and take plural verb.

Example:

  • Sony and Sanjay are going to Chennai today.

B.If a subject consisting of two singular nouns connected by ‘and’ refers to the same person or thing, a singular verb is used.

Example:

  • My best friend and advisor has changed his mind again. (Both qualities are found in one person)
  • Red beans curry and rice is all I have.

C.When two subjects connected by ‘and’ are preceded by each, every or many a, a singular verb is used.

Example:

  • Every tie and coat is marked for sales.
  • Each boy and girl is expected to meet his target.

 

2. A PHRASE BETWEEN SUBJECT

As well as, along with, together with, in addition to, besides, including, etc.

If a phrase comes between two nouns, the verb agrees with the first noun. If the 1st noun is singular, a singular verb is required; if plural, a plural verb

Example

  •  Jim, together with his friends, is buying a horse.
  • My brothers-in-law as well as my chief competitor are obliged.

 

3. PROXIMITY

When two phrases are linked by ‘either—-or’, ‘neither-nor’, ‘not only-but also’, the verb agrees to the nearest noun.

Example:

  • Not only Jim but also his friends are buying the horse.

 

4. THE/A NUMBER

The expression ‘the number’ has a singular meaning and requires a singular verb, whereas the expression ‘a number’ has a plural meaning and takes a plural verb.

Example:

  • The number of orders is estimated at nearly a hundred.
  • A number of our staff are going on leave.

5. PROPORTION, PERCENTAGE, A NOUN WITH ‘OF’

  • 100 percent of people want to stop black money.

NOTE: Who want/wants to stop? Subject-Plural

  • ¾ of politicians are against Mr Narendra Modi.

NOTE: Who is/are against? Subject-Plural

 

6.INVERTED SENTENCE

Till this we have seen all sentences in normal word order, means the subject comes before the main verb. One issue with agreement can be seen if the subject comes after the verb or in between two verbs. This is called inverted word order or inverted sentence.

Example:

  • Up the mountain climbs the lion.
  • There climbs the lion.

Note: What climbs? Lion- Singular subject and singular third person verb ‘climbs’- Hence, subject verb agreement is maintained.

Conclusion: Choosing the correct singular or plural verb after the subject is the requirement of Subject Verb Agreement. Kindly plan in budgeting time, go through the descriptive an introductory portion and learn the method to approach the questions correctly.