A sentence in the active voice typically has the formation of Subject Verb Object SVO. The verb needs to be in agreement with the subject for proper grammar formation. We have certain rules to understand Subject – Verb agreement.
The base rule states –
With a singular subject, a singular verb will agree and a plural verb will agree with a plural subject.
We also need to keep the exceptions to this rule in mind. There are many exceptions listed in grammar books and over the internet. But it gets confusing, so here is a compiled list of major base rules to be remembered.
1. Each, Every, Either, Neither: Singular.
Each of us is going to the party. [We are not to confuse with ‘Us’ thinking the verb ‘are’ needs to be used. Since ‘each’ is singular, we use a singular verb]
2. Either – Or/Neither – Nor: The verb will take the subject that is closest to the verb Rule of proximity.
Either Sachin or his friends are going to the party.
Neither his friends nor Sachin is going to the party.
3.Together with, along with, as well as: The verb will take the subject that is farthest to the verb.
Sachin as well as his friends is going to the party.
His friends along with Sachin are going to the party.
4. Words like Glasses, pants, tongs, scissors, trousers etc are regarded as plural (and require plural verbs) unless they're preceded the phrase pair of.
A pair of trousers is lying on the bed.
The trousers are lying on the bed.
5. Aircraft, Fish, Hair etc are all singular. When referring to a type/species we use the ‘s/es’ form.
There are two gold-fish in the bowl. Inspite of two fish i.e. plural, we use fish and not fishes
The fish on the plate seems tempting.
There are many fishes in the sea. The sea has many species of fishes
6. With conjunctions like ‘and’ there are a few more exceptions. ‘And’ is used to join two sentences, words, phrases etc together. Hence the plural form of the verb will be used with ‘and’.
Hari and Ram are going to the market
The secretary and the chairman are going to attend the meeting.
In the above example, the determiner ‘the’ is followed by the noun ‘Secretary’ and ‘chairman’, which is why they are treated as two different people.
The secretary and chairman is going to attend the meeting (When ‘Secretary’ and ‘Chairman’ refers to one person occupying two positions).
7. Collective nouns such as committee, jury, group, herd etc, when refer to a collective action use a singular verb and when divided use a plural verb.
The jury have not yet come up with their decision.
The jury has announced its decision.
8. Some, Any, None, All, Most are both singular and plural, depending on the subject being referred.
Some of the voters have not voted.
Some of the milk has spilt.
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