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Subject-Verb Agreement

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Presentation on theme: "Subject-Verb Agreement"— Presentation transcript:

1 Subject-Verb Agreement
Professor Jean Garrett Mt. San Antonio College Walnut, California Jean Garrett (c) 2011

2 Subject-Verb Agreement
The basic principle of subject-verb agreement is: if the subject of a sentence is singular, the verb should be singular. The boy walks to school every day. if the subject is plural, the verb should be plural. The boys walk to school every day. Jean Garrett (c) 2011

3 Ten Guidelines for Subject-Verb Agreement
Do not let words that come between the subject and verb confuse agreement. Prepositional phrases Numerous styles of clothing were purchased for the new store. The printing on those posters for the events is too small. The teacher, as well as her students, was enjoying the fieldtrip. Relative clauses Jessica, who is the class’s best writer, is entering the contest. Negative phrase follows a positive subject Ignacio, not the other students, is the one with the correct answer.

4 Ten Guidelines for Subject-Verb Agreement
Do not let reverse order sentences (verb before subject, not the normal order) confuse subject-verb agreement. Put the sentence in its normal order to find the subject and verb. Questions Are Eduardo and Anna coming with us? [question form] Eduardo and Anna are coming with us. [normal order] Sentences beginning with “Here” or “There” There are over fifty new members in the club. [sentence filler] Over fifty new members are in the club. [normal order] Sentences beginning with prepositional phrases Over the fence and into the sky flew the frightened bird. [reverse order] The frightened bird flew over the fence and into the sky. [normal order]

5 Ten Guidelines for Subject-Verb Agreement
A singular verb agrees with a singular indefinite pronoun that is the subject of a sentence. Most indefinite pronouns are singular. Each of the members is doing the job which was assigned. Neither of the children is willing to admit his or her guilt. One of the men was late for inspection. The indefinite pronouns all, any, none, and some do not clearly express either a singular or plural number. Agreement, therefore, depends on the meaning of the sentence. All of the pie was tasty. All of the pies were ready to be eaten. None of the cake was moist. None of the cakes are decorated.

6 Ten Guidelines for Subject-Verb Agreement
Two or more subjects joined by and usually take a plural verb. The mother and her daughters were glad to be on vacation. The dogs and cats need to be fed. If the parts of a compound subject mean one and the same person or thing, the verb is singular; if the parts mean more than one, the verb is plural. The secretary and treasurer is not present. [one] The secretary and the treasurer are not present. [more than one]. When “each” or “every” modifies singular subjects joined by “and,” the verb is singular. Each boy and each girl chooses a topic for the report. Every student and teacher has wondered about the dean’s motives.

7 Ten Guidelines for Subject-Verb Agreement
Alternative subjects - that is, subjects joined by or, nor, either/or, neither/nor, not only/but also - should be handled in the following manner: If the subjects are both singular, the verb is singular. Tomas or Mary is picking you up at the airport. If the subjects are plural, the verb is plural. Neither the students nor the teachers were impressed by his comments. However, if one of the subjects is singular and the other subject is plural, the verb agrees with the nearer subject. Either her sons or their mother feeds the dog each day. Either their mother or her sons feed the dog each day.

8 Ten Guidelines for Subject-Verb Agreement
Collective nouns - team, family, group, crew, gang, class, faculty, and the like - take a singular verb if the noun is considered a unit, but they take a plural verb if the group is considered as a number of individuals. The team is playing well tonight. The team are getting dressed. [In this sentence, the individuals are acting not as a unit but separately.] If you don't like the way the sentence sounds, rewrite it. The members of the team are getting dressed.

9 Ten Guidelines for Subject-Verb Agreement
Titles of books, essays, short stories, and plays; a word spoken of as a word; and the names of businesses take a singular verb. The Canterbury Tales was written by Geoffrey Chaucer. James is my best friend. Staples has a sale this week.

10 Ten Guidelines for Subject-Verb Agreement
Sums of money, distances, and measurements are followed by a singular verb when a unit is meant. They are followed by a plural verb when the individual elements are considered separately. Three dollars was the price. [unit] Three dollars were lying there. [individual] Five years is a long time. [unit] The first five years were difficult ones. [individual].

11 Ten Guidelines for Subject-Verb Agreement
Be careful of agreement with nouns ending in -s. Several nouns ending in -s take a singular verb - for example, aeronautics, civics, economics, ethics, measles, mumps. Mumps is an unpleasant disease. Economics is my major field of study. Mathematics has always been my least favorite class.

12 Ten Guidelines for Subject-Verb Agreement
Some nouns have only a plural form and so take only a plural verb - for example, clothes, fireworks, scissors, trousers. His trousers are badly wrinkled. Marv's clothes were stylish and expensive.

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