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 English Grammar for ESL learners 


SUBJECT - VERB AGREEMENT

The verb in a sentence must agree with the subject.



The verb in an English sentence must agree with the subject in number (singular or plural) in order to ensure that a sentence is grammatically correct.

If the subject of a sentence is singular, its verb must also be singular; if the subject is plural, its verb must also be plural.

Here are some guidelines and examples:

SINGULAR VERBS:
  • Two nouns that are joined by 'or' or 'nor' take a singular verb.
    • “Either Eva or Joy has taken the wrong coat.”
    • “Neither Tom nor Harry has arrived yet.”
  • 'Each', 'every', 'everyone', 'everybody', 'anyone', 'anybody', someone', 'somebody, 'something' take a singular verb.
    • “Each/every inhabitant is concerned.”
    • “Everyone/everybody/anyone/anybody/someone/somebody is responsible.”
    • "Something is not working properly."
  • 'The number of' takes a singular verb.
    • "The number of online customers is increasing."
    • "The number of road accidents is causing great concern.
    • "The number of guests was quite small."
  • Collective nouns take singular verbs.
    • “The majority is in favour of the proposal.”
    • “Our team is the best.”
    • "The crowd was angry and hostile."
  • Uncountable nouns such as 'information', baggage', 'equipment', etc. take singular nouns.
    • “More information is available at the reception.”
    • “All baggage is stored here.”
    • "Advice is given at the information desk when necessary."
  • Some nouns appear to be plural but are singular and take singular verbs, for example 'gymnastics', 'news', 'physics', 'politics', etc.
    • “The latest news is reassuring.”
    • “Gymnastics is fun to watch.”
    • "Physics is a difficult subject for many students."
PLURAL VERBS:
  • Nouns that are joined by 'and' take a plural verb:
    • “Tom and Harry have arrived home safely.”
    • “Sugar and eggs are needed for the recipe.”
  • Nouns with no singular form such as 'sunglasses', scissors', etc. take plural verbs.
    • “These scissors are rusty.”
    • “Caroline's sunglasses are very fashionable.”
  • 'Several', 'many', 'both', 'few', 'a few' take plural verbs.
    • “Several/many/most/both employees are aware of the danger.”
    • “Few/a few people went to the beach today.”
  • 'A number of' takes a plural verb.
    • "A number of customers are complaining about slow delivery."
    • "A number of people are waiting for the bus."
    • "A number of social problems are caused by unemployment."
  • 'One of ' takes a plural verb.
    • "The guide indicated one of the few hotels that serve meals."
    • "The book is one of those novels that owe their success to social networks."
    • "She is one of the many patients who need special care."
BOTH:
  • 'All', 'any', 'some', 'a lot of', 'most'
    The verb agrees with the countable or uncountable noun that follows these words:
    • "All/any/some/a lot of/most smoke is irritating."
    • "All/any/some/a lot of/most visitors are welcome."



See collective and compound nouns   | countable and plural nouns   |   plural form of nouns

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