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Subject-Verb Agreement

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1 Subject-Verb Agreement

2 Rule #1 Singular subjects take singular verbs.
Ex. The dog barks. In most (not all) cases, singular verbs end in “s”. Plural subjects take plural verbs. Ex. The dogs bark. In most (not all) cases, plural nouns end in “s”.

3 Compound Subjects In most cases, two subjects joined by “and” will take a plural verb. Ex. The teacher and the students enjoy having days off. EXCEPTION: If the two subjects are considered to be one unit, they will take a singular verb. Ex. Spaghetti and meatballs is her favorite dinner.

4 Compound Subjects When subjects are joined by “or”, “neither/nor”, “not only/but also”, etc., use the subject that is closest to the verb to determine whether the verb should be singular or plural Ex. Neither the boys nor their sister does the laundry. Ex. Neither the girl nor her brothers do the laundry.

5 Collective nouns Collective nouns (such as team, class, and committee) that work as subjects may take either singular or plural verbs depending on whether they are working as a group or individually. Ex. The jury is expected to return the verdict this afternoon. Ex. The jury are expressing opposing viewpoints about the case.

6 Indefinite Pronouns Indefinite pronouns fall into three categories:
Those that are always singular Those that are always plural Those that can be singular or plural

7 Indefinite Pronouns (group 1)
The following indefinite pronouns always take a singular verb: Everyone, everybody, everything, nobody, no one, nothing, somebody, someone, something, anybody, anyone, anything, each, either, neither, and one. Ex. Each of the players likes going to practice.

8 Indefinite Pronouns (group 2)
The following indefinite pronouns always take a plural verb: Many, several, and few Ex. Several of the cookies were eaten before the party.

9 Indefinite Pronouns (group 3)
The following indefinite pronouns can be either singular or plural, depending on what they are referring to: None, some, most, all, any, a lot, and half Ex. Some of the people are going boating. Ex. Some of the money is missing.

10 Reminders Remember that your subject will NEVER be “there” so be careful with unusual word order in your sentences. Ex. There are some papers on the desk. Ex. There is a spider on the wall. Remember that nouns like mumps, measles, news, mathematics, and economics take singular verbs.

11 More reminders Nouns that end in “s” but are actually only one object take plural verbs. Ex. Pants, pliers, and scissors Remember to check carefully for subjects that are separated from the verb by words or phrases. Ex. John, as well as his two friends, works at the pizza parlor.

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