THE BASIC RULE OF THUMB (This is the easy part!) Singular subjects take singular verbs Plural subjects take plural verbs Here’s a hint to help find the subject: The subject will never be found in the prepositional phrase. Always ‘cross out’ the prepositional phrase before choosing the subject.
The leaves on the tree (is, are) gold in the fall. The leaves are gold in the fall.
Remember your math One + one = two Singular + singular = plural + = AND = compound subjects The ugly lawn gnome AND the lovely plastic elf belong together. Gnome (singular) AND elf (singular) belong (plural)
Singular or plural? The ugly lawn gnome loves the lovely plastic elf. The lovely plastic elf is pining after the ugly lawn gnome. The weeds are a problem to this unhappy couple. The hedge clippers are their only hope! Gnome loves = singular Elf is pining = singular Weeds are = plural Clippers are = plural
OR, EITHER…OR, NEITHER…NOR Now what???
Grab your ruler The verb choice depends on the closest subject (Either the students or the teacher has the right answer.) (Either the teacher or the students have the right answer. If the subject closest to the verb is singular, use a singular verb. If the subject closest to the verb is plural, use a plural verb.
Either, Neither without their partners Or and Nor
The subjects EITHER and NEITHER with no partner are ALWAYS SINGULAR. Either of the two teams is good enough to win the championship. Neither of the dogs has a collar. You’ll be tempted to use ‘teams’ and ‘dogs’ and choose plural verbs. Resist the temptation!! REMEMBER – You can say either ONE and neither ONE. One is singular so the verb will be singular.
Neither of the girls (is, are) going to the party. Neither (one) is going to the party.
A couple of other points to remember…..
The number of… requires a singular verb. A number of …requires a plural verb. The number of cases of West Nile Virus is growing every year. A number of students are protesting on Friday night.
Let’s Practice!!! The sheriff along with two of her deputies (were, was) checking licenses at the North Road exit. WAS Neither of the lots in our subdivision (was, were) for sale. WAS The tables and chairs that you purchased for your restaurant (is, are) ready to be delivered. ARE Calculus and Trigonometry (is, are) very difficult for beginning students to understand. ARE
More Practice!!! The number of girls in my football club (was, were) surprising. WAS A number of the swimmers (is, are) going to the state competition. ARE Error messages (is, are) showing up in my program. ARE Neither Betty nor Jane (type, types) more than fifty words per minute. TYPES
LESSON 2 WORDS BETWEEN THE SUBJECT AND VERB
Don’t let words between the subject and verb trip you up! These interrupters may include: Prepositional phrases Appositive phrases
Prepositional phrases Prepositional phrase = preposition+object of the preposition The files of any computer are vulnerable to electronic-age thieves. Ignore the prepositional phrase The subject = files (pl) The verb = are (pl)
Appositive phrases Appositive phrases contain extra information and are set off from the sentence with commas. Computer thieves, people like the hacker Kevin Mitnick, steal government and industry secrets. Ignore the appositive phrase The subject = thieves The verb = steal
Interrupters may also be clauses and participles But those are for another day!!!!
REMEMBER IGNORE THE INTERRUPTERS. “CROSS OUT” (at least mentally) PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES AND APPOSITIVE PHRASES. FIND THE SUBJECT AND VERB IN THE “BASIC” SENTENCE.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Which sentence is correct? Why?
The boy in the first row, along with all the other students in the class, are beleaguered by the worksheets. The boy in the first row, along with all the other students in the class, is beleaguered by the worksheets. ** boy is
The girl with the blue ribbons in her hair, but not the other girls in the class, throws spitballs at the teacher. The girl with the blue ribbons in her hair, but not the other girls in the class, throw spitballs at the teacher. ** Girl throws
The ugly lawn gnome with 10,000 eyes and only five toes love the lovely plastic elf. The ugly lawn gnome with 10,000 eyes and only five toes loves the lovely plastic elf. ** gnome loves
The lovely plastic elf, fascinated with folktales, imagines herself as a beautiful princess in love with the ugly lawn gnome. The lovely plastic elf, fascinated with folktales, imagine herself as a beautiful princess in love with the ugly lawn gnome. ** Elf imagines
LESSON 3 INDEFINITE-PRONOUN SUBJECTS
An indefinite pronoun refers to an unspecified person or thing. Some indefinite pronouns are always singular. Some indefinite pronouns are always plural. Some indefinite pronouns can be singular or plural depending on how they are used.
Singular indefinite pronouns take singular verbs. Plural indefinite pronouns take plural verbs. Everyone has heard of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson Few realize that Arthur Conan Doyle solved real-life cases.
Indefinite Pronouns SINGULAR (The ones, things, bodies) So everybody is happy because no one has caused any trouble, and anything goes. anyone, everyone, no one, someone, one, anything, everything, nothing, something anybody, everybody nobody, somebody another, either, neither, each PLURAL Both authors horses are show jumpers. Both, few, many, several SINGULAR OR PLURAL All, any, more, most, none, some
Six indefinite pronouns take singular verbs when they refer to one thing. They take plural verbs when they refer to two or more people or things. To decide whether the pronoun takes a singular or plural verb, find the noun in the prepositional phrase that follows the indefinite pronoun. Most of the story takes place in England. Most of the stories take place in England.
More examples of the 6 indefinite pronouns than can be singular or plural Any of the book is interesting. Any of the magazines are interesting. All of the pie is gone. All of the shoes are on sale. None of the pollution is blamed on the factory. None of the factories are to blame for the pollution. Some of the speech is appropriate. Some of the politicians are giving speeches tonight.
BY THE WAY…….
EACH and EVERY change whatever follows into a singular idea. EACH shoe and sock is in need of mending. EVERY dress and skirt in that store is on sale. EACH of those Halloween pumpkins was rotten by December. EVERY one of the atomic secrets has been stolen.
REMEMBER EACH mistaken subject and verb is a problem, and EVERY grammar rule and example is important.
Indefinite Pronouns SINGULAR (The ones, things, bodies) So everybody is happy because no one has caused any trouble, and anything goes. anyone, everyone, no one, someone, one, anything, everything, nothing, something anybody, everybody nobody, somebody another, either, neither, each PLURALBoth, few, many, several SINGULAR OR PLURAL All, any, more, most, none, some
GIVE IT A TRY!! (Grammar for Writing 2008)
1.Many of Arthur Conan Doyle’s fans enjoy reading about the real-life cases Doyle solved. 2.One of these cases involve George Edalji, a young man from a small English village. 3.Someone among the villagers are viciously killing animals. 4.Nearly all of the animals are killed at night in open fields. 5.According to police, most of the evidence point to Edalji. Correct involves is Correct points
6) Everyone on the jury find him guilty. 7) Someone writes Doyle, asking him to help Edalji. 8) One of Doyle’s tests reveal Edalji’s “night blindness.” 9) No one with night blindness are able to chase and kill animals in the dark. 10) After hearing Dole’s evidence, all of the commissioners pardons Edalji. finds Correct reveals is pardon
Lesson 4 Subject-Verb Agreement With Inverted Sentences
IN AN INVERTED SENTENCE The verb (or part of the verb) comes before the subject. Inverted sentences: may be questions DOES the bank WANT the robber punished? or may begin with there, here, where Here IS a book about dumb criminals or may begin with a phrase Right by the police SPEEDS the truck.
To decide whether to use a singular verb or a plural verb FIRST, find the subject THEN, make sure the verb agrees with the subject.
THERE IS AN EASY WAY TO FIND THE TRUE SUBJECT Out of the bank (come, comes) the two robbers. 1)Turn the sentence around so that the subject comes before the verb. The two robbers (come, comes) out of the bank. 2)Determine whether the subject is singular or plural. Robbers (plural) 3)Make sure the subject and verb agree. The two robbers come out of the bank.
REWRITE THESE SENTENCES SO THEY ARE IN “NATURAL” WORD ORDER. There are nine players on a baseball team. Is your coat in the closet? Were we surprised! There are still season tickets available. Nine players are on a baseball team. Your coat is in the closet. We were surprised! Season tickets are still available.
NOW, WRITE THE SUBJECT AND VERB FOR EACH SENTENCE There are nine players on a baseball team. Is your coat in the closet? Were we surprised! There are still season tickets available. players are coat is we were tickets are
LESSON 5 Subject/Verb Agreement with collective nouns, nouns ending in ‘s’, titles, amounts, time
AGREEMENT WITH COLLECTIVE NOUNS Collective nouns are singular when they refer to the group as a unit. Collective nouns are plural when they refer to the individual members of the group. The flock of birds is covering the sky. (The flock is one unit.) The jury is still deliberating. (The jury is one unit) The flock of birds were grooming themselves. (The flock are thought of as individual birds.) The jury argue about the case. (The individuals argue.)
SOME COMMON COLLECTIVE NOUNS Flock Committee Class Club Team Family Pride Staff Jury Herd Police Majority Crowd Public
AGREEMENT WITH NOUNS ENDING IN ‘S’ Certain words end in ‘s’ and look plural but have a singular meaning. Use a singular verb with these words.
SOME COMMON SINGULAR NOUNS THAT END IN ‘S’
The news is on at 6:00 Molasses is a very sweet syrup. Mumps is very dangerous so a vaccine was developed. Politics has a big effect on rural communities. Physics is my favorite class. Genetics determines hair color. Forensics is a popular science because of popular T.V. shows like CSI.
AGREEMENT WITH TITLES AND EXPRESSIONS OF AMOUNT AND TIME
TITLES OF WORKS OF ART, LITERATURE AND MUSIC ARE SINGULAR Language Network Another genuine Mona Lisa has been discovered. The Twelve Chairs is a comic mystery story. Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, 100 Great Detectives is a very interesting book.
WORDS RELATING TO WEIGHTS, MEASURES, NUMBERS ARE USUALLY SINGULAR SUBJECTS SO REQUIRE SINGULAR VERBS. Fifty thousand dollars has been raised to ransom the missing painting. Over two-thirds of the money comes from private donations. Eighty pounds of food has been donated to the food pantry. (Don’t confuse these numbers with numbers used as adjectives before a noun. - ex. Nine players are on a team.)
KEEP THIS IN MIND, THOUGH Measurements are considered plural when meant as individual components. (Six more miles are ahead of us.) When an amount tells how much, use a singular verb. (Half of the money comes from donations.) When an amount tells how many, use a plural verb. (Half of the guards are on duty.) BTW When a sentence begins with a number, the number is ALWAYS SPELLED OUT.
LENGTHS OF TIME ARE USUALLY TREATED AS SINGULAR Twelve years is a long time for an investigation to continue. Fifty years was the maximum sentence for the crime. Thirty minutes is a long time to wait for a table in a restaurant.
Choose the correct verb and state the rule that determines your choice. 1.War and Peace (is, are)a novel by the Russian writer Tolstoy. 2.Physics (is, are) an exciting college major. 3.Susanna (don’t, doesn’t) believe in astrology. 4.The jury (has, have) finally returned to the courtroom. 5.There (are, is) usually two players on each side. 6.Hard Times (are, is) my favorite novel by Dickens. is Doesn’t has are is
7. The pride of lions (were, was) resting near a stream. 8. (Do, Does) your soccer team play during the fall and spring of the season? 9. Ten dollars (is, are) too high a price for that. 10. The majority of the students (prefers, prefer) take-home exams. was Does is prefers