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RULES OF SYNTAX / SUBJECT / VERB AGREEMENT
Correct grammar is largely possible when there is
proper agreement between the Subject of the sen-
tence and the Verb. In this tutorial, we will look at the
A. Write in the blank spaces, the singular form of
each word given in brackets.
#1. A singular subject takes a singular verb
* The 3rd person singular form of the verb in the
Present Tense, always ends in 's'.
Daddy drives his car to work, every day.
#2. A plural subject always takes a plural verb
Our neighbours drive to work every day
* Note: In using Pronouns, 'you' is always followed
by the plural form of the verb, even if that pro-
noun refers to one person or more than one per-
(S1) "Are you visiting us, later," said Charlene to
her friend, Tricia.
(S2) Charlene asked her friends, Tricia and Ellen
"Are you visiting us later?" (refers to more
than 1 person)
Now try these: - (Refer to rules # 1 and # 2)
Practice Exercise # 1
Underline the correct form of the verb to complete
each of the following sentences.
1. There (is; are) four cows in the savanna.
"Phillip, what (does; do) you usually do on Satur-
day mornings?" asked his friend Elvin
3. One of the dogs (has; have) escaped from the
4. My three cousins (is; are) staying with us for the
5. She (has; have) won all the races for this year.
6. Some of the buses (was; were) parked in he
7. Alana and Zena (has; have) been friends for the
past ten years.
8. The Library (is; are) situated close to the main
#3. Collective Nouns: - A collective noun (name of
a group) in the singular form takes a singular
verb for it refers to one group of persons or
The army (of soldiers) was training in the forest.
BUT The armies were training in the forest.
Practice Exercise #2:-
Now try these:- (Refer to rules nos. 1, 2 and 3)
Tick ( ) the correct form of the Verb to complete
each of the following sentences:-
(a) The fruits on the branch (is; are) shaking in the
(b) The bigger of the two girls (has; have) been my
best friend for some time.
(c) The jury in the court (was; were) asked not to
share certain information with each other.
(d) "(Is; Are) you coming over, later?" Kathy asked
her cousins, Jean and Denise.
(e) This glass of orange juice (was; were) definitely,
(f) Mathematics (has; have) usually been taught as
the second subject in the morning.
(g) The onlookers (was; were) gathered to observe
(h) There (is; are) a lively hive of bees near the top
of the tree.
#4. A verb in the plural form must be used with
singular subjects that are joined by 'and'
(a) Her sister and Diane are members of our
school's basketball team
(b) The bread and the cakes were put into a
large paper bag.
#5. Two or more singular subjects, joined by 'or' or
'nor' require a verb in the singular form.
(a) Either Sammy or Ronnie is coming across to
(b) Neither the pumpkin nor the bag of
potatoes was sold.
Now do these:- (Refer to rules # 4 and # 5)
Circle one of the verbs which would make each
sentence read correctly.
(1) Neither that ball nor that raquet (belongs; be-
long) to me.
(2) You and he (is; are) certainly my best friends.
(3) Either the saw, the hammer or the pack of nails
(was; were) put into the cupboard.
(4) Marissa and her sister (are; is) jogging in the
(5) There, running around the kennel (was; were)
Misty and Rover.
#6. If the subjects joined by 'or' or 'nor' are differ-
ent in Person, the verb agrees with the subject
that is nearest to it.
(a) Either he (3rd person) or you (2nd person)
are my cousin
(b) Neither he (3rd person) nor I (1st person)
am in school, today.
Practice Exercise #4: - Tick the correct verb in each
(a) Neither she nor I (has; have) visited there, before.
(b) Either he or you (lives; live) near to our school.
(c) Neither he nor they (was; were) expected to be
(d) Either you or she (has; have) been a member of
our chess team.
(e) Neither he nor we (is; are) participating in the
relay race, tomorrow.
#7. If the subjects joined by 'or' or 'nor' are differ-
ent in number, the verb agrees with the subject
nearest to it.
(a) Either the screws (plural) or the file
(singular) has been put in the cupboard.
(b) Neither the ripe mango (singular) nor the
plums (plural) were in the bag.
Now try these:-
Practice Exercise #5:-
Underline the correct verb in the brackets.
(a) Neither Sally and Charisse nor their friend, Sylvia
(has; have) seen that movie.
(b) Either Mr. Baptiste or his friends (is; are) jogging
in the park.
(c) Either the guinea pigs or the manicou ( has;
have) eaten already.
(d) Neither the conductor nor the singers (is; are) in
(e) Neither the parrots nor the pair of doves (was;
were) in their cage.
#8. A singular subject joined by words/ phrases
such as 'along with', 'like', 'in addition to', 'with
'as well as', 'accompanied by', 'together with'
and' including 'takes a verb in the singular
Simon together with her two sisters is attending
the Science Fair, next week.
Practice Exercise #6:-
Some of the following sentences are incorrect.
Rewrite the sentences that need to be corrected.
(a) A huge squash, along with some ochroes was put
on the table.
Continued on the next page
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