Subject – Verb Agreement (Concord)
Concord is the agreement in number and person between the subject and the verb in the sentence. The following rules my be noted.
1. A singular subject requires a singular verb and plural subject requires a plural verb.
a) The goat is grazing (singular subject – singular verb)
b) The goats are grazing. (plural subject – plural verb)
2. When two singular subjects are joined by ‘and’, the verb is plural.
a) He and I are great friends.
b) Stella and Mary go to school
3. When two singular nouns refer to the same idea or the same person a singular verb is used.
a) Slow and steady wins the race. (one idea singular verb)
b) Bread and butter is what they want. (one unit – singular verb)
c) The poet and scholar has arrived. (here poet and scholar refer to the same person – Hence singular verb)
d) My wife and secretary is away in Delhi.
4. If the subject represents two different persons, the article ‘the’ or the possessive pronouns is repeated, then the verb will be plural.
a) The poet and the scholar have arrived
Note: Here the poet and the scholar are two different persons. Hence plural verb ‘have’
b) My wife and my secretary do not like each other.
5. Those subjects which have each, every, anyone, anybody, either, neither, many a before them always take singular verbs after them.
a) Each day and each hour brings us a fresh anxiety.
b) Each man and each woman has a vote.
c) Every one of the ship’s crew was drowned.
d) Many a man is tempted by gold.
e) Neither of these two is a thief.
f) Either of these two is suitable.
6. If two or more singular subjects are joined with or, not, either,… or, neither…nor, the verb is singular.
a) Neither John or David has any right to the property.
b) Either John or David has done the mischief.
c) John or his father is sure to come.
7. When the two subjects connected by or, either… or, Neither… nor, are of different persons, the verb agrees with the person of the subject nearer to it.
a) Neither the headmaster nor the teachers were present at the meeting.
b) Either Diana or you are culprit.
c) Neither John nor I am responsible.
d) Neither you nor Robert seems to be capable of doing this.
8. When two singular subjects are connected by not only… but also, the verb will be singular.
a) Not only Robert but also her sister is an engineer.
Definition: If two subjects differ in number or person or both, the verb agrees with the second noun or pronoun.
a) Not only the earth, but also other plants go round the sun.
9. If two subjects are joined with as well as, with, together with, along with, like,, the verb agrees with the first subject.
a) My friend, along with his sisters, has arrived.
b) My son, as well as his classmates, comes here tomorrow.
10. The relative pronouns (who, whom, which and that) are followed by a singular or a plural verb according to the number of person or their antecedent.
a) You, who are the leader of this class, have to control the class in the absence of the teacher.
b) It is only you who have achieved this honour.
c) It is who has committed the crime.
11. All collective nouns are usually singular even when they are followed by of and by the things or persons of which the groups is made: a herd of cattle; a flock of sheep; a crowd of people; a regiment of solidiers etc.
A crowd of people is moving to the river.
12. Collective nouns are followed by singular verbs if the nouns are meant to refer to the group as one unit. When the collective noun refers to the individuals separately, the verb is plural.
a) A committee was appointed to study the question.
b) The committee were divided in their opinion.
c) The audience has been waiting for long.d) The audience are all children.
13. If the title of a book ‘or’ the name of a building or a hotel is a plural, it is considered singular for agreement with the verb.
a) ‘KPN Travels’ is an interesting book.
b) The ‘Wood lands’ is famous hotel in Chennai.
14. Quality, weight, amount, distance, time, etc. always take singular verbs after them.
a) A thousand rupees is a good sum (not are)
b) For weeks is a good holiday. (not are)
c) Twenty kilometer is not long nowadays. (not are)
15. The following nouns always take singular verbs after them.
16. The following nouns always take plural verbs after them.
- people, cattle, police, gentry, poultry, clergy, infantry.
- scissors, spectacles, bellows, breeches, trousers, thanks, alms; shoes, odds.
a) Her shoes were good.
b) Those trousers are black.
But a pair of scissor / a pair of shoes / a pair of trousers take a singular verb.
a) A pair of shoes is placed in the corner.
b) This pair of scissors is good for tailors.
17. A) A lot of, a great deal of, most of, some of and plenty of are considered plural when they refer to number.
a) Most of the people in India are poor.
b) There are a lot of opportunities for good men.
B) They are considered singular when they refer to quality or amount.
a) Some of the work is still to be done.
b) A great deal of money was spent on the project.
18. A) ‘The majority of’ always takes plural verb.
The majority of boys do not try to understand.
B) ‘Most of’ can be used with both countables and uncountables. It can be singular and plural accordingly.
Most of the houses are good. But most of the work is done.
C) ‘Many’ takes plural verb, while ‘much’ takes singular verb.
a) Many of the beds wre crushed.
b) Much of the land was dried.
D) Many a + singular noun + Singular verb
More than one + singular noun + singular verb
a) Many a man was killed in the war.
b) More than one boy was absent from the class.
E) One or more / one or two / Plural noun + plural verb
a) One or more students were dismissed.
b) One or two boys have left.
F) One of/ each of/ every of/ either of/ neither of + plural subject + singular verb.
a) One of the boys has lost his book / One of my friends always stays in hotels.
b) Each of them works hard.c) Either of them / neither of them is my friend.
19. Errors due to proximity: Often the verb is made to agree in number with a noun near it instead of its proper subject. This should be avoided.
a) The behaviour of the children were excellent.DefinitionThe above sentence is incorrect. Here ‘were’ must be ‘was’ in order to agree with the behaviour
b) The quality of mangoes was (not were) good.
c) A series of lectures has (not have) been arranged on the subject.
20. ‘None’ takes a singular verb when the word means ‘No one’ or ‘Not one’.
a) None of us is perfect. (not are)
Definition: When none suggests ‘more than one noun or person’ the plural verb is commonly used.
b) None but the brave deserve the fair. (not deserves)
c) ‘Any’ of you is likely to be selected?
d) ‘Any’ of these persons have done this misachieve?
21. A) If the name of the country is used with its team it is considered singular.
a)The Indian team has won the rubber this time.
B) But if the name of the country is used for the team itself it is considered plural.
India have won by 8 wickets.
22. When an adjective becomes a generic noun it is always plural.
The rich are the exploiters; the poor are sufferers.
23. Some sentences begin with the provisional subject ‘there’. The real subject comes after the verb. So that verb agrees with the real subject.
a) There are many children in the park.
b) There has been a quarrel between the friends.
c) There is a book on the table.