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Jane Straus - Subject and Verb Agreement I

Subject and Verb Agreement Part 1

GrammarBook

Jane Straus is the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation and developer of GrammarBook.com

Word Puzzle

Remove one letter at a time from created to form a new word. Answer(s) at end of blog.

 

While most of us know that a singular subject takes a singular verb and a plural subject takes a plural verb, distinguishing between singular and plural subjects as well as singular and plural verbs can be tricky.

 

Tip: Verbs do not form their plurals by adding an s as nouns do. In order to distinguish a singular from a plural verb, think of which verb you would use with he/she and which verb you would use with they.  

 

For example, which verb, talks or talk, is singular? You would say, "He talks." Therefore, talks is singular. You would say, "They talk." Therefore, talk is plural.

 

Once you have verbs handled, you still need to be able to spot tricky noun combinations. Here are a few of the most helpful rules to make you a master of subject and verb agreement.

 

Rule 1. Two singular subjects connected by or or nor, either/or, or neither/nor require a singular verb.

 

Examples: My aunt or my uncle is arriving by train today.

      Neither Juan nor Carmen is available.

                  Either Kiana or Casey is helping today with stage decorations.

 

Rule 2. When either and neither are subjects, they take singular verbs.

 

Examples: Neither of them is available to speak right now.

                  Either of us is capable of doing the job.

 

Rule 3. When I is one of two singular subjects connected by either/or or neither/nor, put it second and follow it with the singular verb am.

 

Example: Neither she nor I am going to the festival.

 

Rule 4. When a singular subject is connected by or or nor to a plural subject, put the plural subject last and use a plural verb.

 

Example: The serving bowl or the plates go on that shelf.

 

Rule 5. When a singular and plural subject are connected by either/or or neither/nor, put the plural subject last and use a plural verb.

 

Example: Neither Jenny nor the others are available.

 

Rule 6. As a general rule, use a plural verb with two or more subjects when they are connected by and.  

Example: A car and a bike are my means of transportation.

 

Next time, we will discuss subject and verb agreement with pronouns such as everyone and none; with money, percents, and fractions; and with collective nouns such as staff and team.

Word Puzzle Answers

Remove one letter at a time from created to form a new word.

crated
rated
rate
ate
at
a

OR

 

create

crate

rate

ate

at

a

JaneStrauss

 

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Raman
Posts: 20
Comment
Common mistakes
Reply #1 on : Tue July 27, 2010, 10:38:21
These are things which people generally do not know and make mistakes.




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