Document 37717

Subject-Verb Agreement
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Number

Number – the form a word takes to
indicate whether the word is singluar or
plural.
A word that refers to one person, place,
thing, or idea is singular in number.
 A word that refers to more than one is
plural in number.

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Subject-Verb Agreement
A verb should agree in number with its
subject.
 Singular subjects take singular verbs.

◦ Ex)
He washes the dishes. [The singular verb
washes agrees with the singular subject He.]
A girl in my neighborhood plays in the band.
[The singular subject girl takes the singular
verb plays.]
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Subject-Verb Agreement

Plural subjects take plural verbs.
◦ Ex)
They wash the dishes.
Several girls in my neighborhood play in the
band.

Generally, nouns ending in –s are plural
(friends, girls), but verbs ending in –s are
generally singular (sees, hears).
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Subject-Verb Agreement

The following indefinite pronouns are
singular:
◦ anybody, anyone, anything, each, either, everybody,
everyone, everything, neither, nobody, no one,
nothing, one, somebody, someone, and something
◦ Ex)
Each of the athletes runs effortlessly.
Neither of the women is ready to start.
Someone was waving a large flag.
Does everyone who signed up enjoy playing
tennis?
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Subject-Verb Agreement

The following indefinite pronouns are
plural:
◦ both, few, many, and several
◦ Ex)
Were both of the games postponed?
Few that I know of have qualified.
Several of the runners are exercising.
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Subject-Verb Agreement

The following indefinite pronouns may be
singular or plural, depending on their
meaning in a sentence:
◦ all, any, more, most, none, and some
◦ Ex)
Some of the test is hard. [Some refers to the
singular noun test.]
Some of the questions are easy. [Some refers
to the plural noun questions.]
All of the exhibit is open to the public.
All of the paintings are on display.
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Subject-Verb Agreement

At Home Practice
◦ In your notes, underline the correct form of
the verb in the sentences on the following
slide.
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Class Practice: Subject-Verb Agreement
Each of the comedians (tries, try) to outdo the
other.
2. Somebody on the bus (was, were) whistling.
3. (Is, Are) all of the apples spoiled?
4. Neither of these books (has, have) an index.
5. (Do, Does) everybody in the class have a pencil?
6. Few of these jobs (sounds, sound) challenging.
7. (Is, Are) more of the vendors in the market?
8. She said that no one in the office (leaves, leave)
early.
9. Both of her parents (has, have) offered us a
ride.
10. (Do, Does) most of those CDs belong to her?
1.
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Subject-Verb Agreement

Subjects joined by and generally take a plural
verb.
◦ Ex)
George Lucas and Steven Spielberg make
movies. [Two persons make movies.]
Rhyme, rhythm, and imagery help poets express
their feelings. [Three things help.]

Compound subjects that name only one person,
place, thing, or idea take a singular verb.
◦ Ex)
My pen pal and best friend is my cousin. [One
person is my best friend and pen pal.]
Broccoli and melted cheese makes a tasty dish.
[The one combination makes a dish.]
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Subject-Verb Agreement

Singular subjects joined by or or nor take a
singular verb. Plural subjects joined by or or
nor take a plural verb.
◦ Ex)
After dinner, either Anne or Tony loads the
dishwasher. [Anne loads the dishwasher or Tony
loads the dishwasher.]
Neither the coach nor the principal is happy
with the team’s performance. [Neither one is
happy.]
Either the boys or their sisters take the
garbage out.
Neither the dogs nor the cats come when we
call them.
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Subject-Verb Agreement

When a singular subject and a plural
subject are joined by or or nor, the verb
agrees with the subject nearer the verb.
◦ Ex)
Neither the children nor their mother was
ready for the trip.
Neither the mother nor her children were
ready for the trip.
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Subject-Verb Agreement

The contractions don’t and doesn’t should
agree with their subjects.
◦ The word don’t is the contraction of do not.
Use don’t with all plural subjects and with the
pronouns I and you.
◦ Ex)
I don’t know.
They don’t give up.
You don’t say.
Don’t these shrink?
We don’t want to. These people don’t care.
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Subject-Verb Agreement

The word doesn’t is the contraction of
does not. Use doesn’t with all singular
subjects except the pronouns I and you.
◦ Ex)
He doesn’t know.
She doesn’t say.
It doesn’t want to.
One doesn’t give up.
This doesn’t shrink.
Doesn’t Donna care?
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Subject-Verb Agreement

A collective noun may be either singular
or plural, depending on its meaning in a
sentence.
◦ A collective noun is a noun that names a group
of persons or things. Examples:
◦ army, assembly, audience, class, club,
committee, family, fleet, flock, group, herd, jury,
public, swarm, team
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Subject-Verb Agreement

Use a plural verb with a collective noun
when the noun refers to the individual
parts or members of the group. Use a
singular verb when the noun refers to the
group as a unit.
◦ Ex)
The class have completed their projects.
[Class is thought of as individuals.]
The class has elected its officers. [Class is
thought of as a unit.]
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Subject-Verb Agreement

A verb agrees with its subject, but not
necessarily with a predicate nominative.
◦ Ex)
S
V
PN
The marching bands are the main attraction.
S
V
PN
The main attraction is the marching band.
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Subject-Verb Agreement

When the subject follows the verb, find the
subject and make sure that the verb agrees with
it. (The subject generally follows the verb in
questions and in sentences that begin with here
and there.)
◦ Ex)
Here is a list of addresses.
Here are two lists of addresses.
There is my notebook.
There are my notebooks.
Where is Heather? Where is Chris?
Where are Heather and Chris?
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Subject-Verb Agreement

Contractions such as here’s, where’s, how’s,
and what’s include the singular verb is. Use
these contractions only with singular
subjects.
◦ Ex)
Incorrect: There’s some facts on that topic.
Correct: There are some facts on that topic.
Correct: There’s a fact on that topic.
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Subject-Verb Agreement
An expression of an amount (a
measurement, a percentage, or a fraction,
for example) may be singular or plural,
depending on how it is used.
 A word or phrase stating an amount is
singular when the amount is thought of as
a unit.

◦ Ex)
Thirty dollars is too much for a ticket.
Two hours is a long time to wait.
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Subject-Verb Agreement

Sometimes, however, the amount is
thought of as individual pieces or parts. If
so, a plural verb is used.
◦ Ex)
Five dollars were scattered on the desk.
Two hours – one before school and one
after – are all I have for practice.
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Subject-Verb Agreement

A fraction or a percentage is singular
when it refers to a singular word and
plural when it refers to a plural word.
◦ Ex)
Three fourths of the pizza is gone.
Of these songs, three fourths are new.
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Subject-Verb Agreement

Some nouns that are plural in form take
singular verbs.
◦ Ex)
Politics is a controversial subject.
The news of the nominee was a surprise.
Rickets is a serious health problem in some
countries.
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Subject-Verb Agreement

Some nouns that end in –s take a plural
verb even when they refer to a single
item.
◦ Ex)
The scissors need to be sharpened.
Were these pants on sale?
The Olympics are on television.
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Subject-Verb Agreement

Even when plural in form, the title of a creative
work (such as a book, song, film, or painting), the
name of an organization, or the name of a
country or city generally takes a singular verb.
◦ Ex)
The Souls of Black Folk is often cited as a
classic of African American literature. [one book]
“Greensleeves” is an old English folk song. [one
piece of music]
The United Nations was founded in 1945. [one
organization]
White Plains is home to several colleges. [one city]
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Subject-Verb Agreement

Subjects preceded by every or many a take
singular verbs.
◦ Ex)
Every homeowner and storekeeper has
joined the cleanup drive sponsored by the
town council.
Many a litterbug was surprised by the stiff
fines.
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Subject-Verb Agreement

When the relative pronoun that, which or
who is the subject of an adjective clause, the
verb in the adjective clause agrees with the
word to which the relative pronoun refers.
◦ Ex)
This is the store that has the discount sale. [That
refers to the singular noun store.]
London, which is the capital of England, is the
largest city in Europe. [Which refers to the
singular noun London.]
The Garcias, who live next door, are going with
us to the lake. [Who refers to the plural noun
Garcias.]
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Subject-Verb Agreement

At Home Practice
◦ Underline the correct form of the verb in the
sentences on the following slide.
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Class Practice: Subject-Verb Agreement
1.
Mumps (is, are) are common childhood disease that causes swelling in
glands in the neck.
2.
Politics (is, are) always a popular subject both to debate and to study at
college.
3.
Not one of the ushers (know, knows) where the lounge is.
4.
The team (is, are) on a winning streak.
5.
Carol, as well as Inés, (write, writes) a weekly column for the East High
Record.
6.
“Beauty and the Beast” (is, are) a folk tale that exists in many different
cultures.
7.
Ten pounds (is, are) to much weight for a young child to carry in a
backpack.
8.
It is difficult to concentrate when there (is, are) radios and stereos blasting
away.
9.
(Has, Have) either of you read the book or seen the movie version of To
Kill a Mockingbird?
10.
In most situation comedies, there (is, are) a very wise character, a very
foolish character, and a very lovable character.
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