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Rules of Syntax/Subject/Verb Agreement
Proper agreement between the Subject of the sen-
tence and the Verb ensures that correct grammar
is being used. In this tutorial, we will look at the fol-
1. A singular subject takes a singular verb
The 3rd person singular form of the verb in the
Present Tense, always ends in 's'.
Gail (She) travels to school every day.
2. A plural subject always takes a plural verb
NOTE: With respect to the use of Pronouns,
'you' is always followed by the plural form of the
verb, even if that pronoun refers to one person
or more than one person.
(S1) "Are you helping me, this morning?" father
said to David. (refers to I person)
(S2) Father asked Andrew and David, "Are you
helping me this morning?" (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 fol-
1. There (is; are) four mangoes in the bag.
2. "Sean, what (does; do) you usually do during
the week end?" asked his friend, Harry.
3. One of the horses (has; have) jumped over the
4. My two sisters (is; are) accompanying me to
5. He (has; have) played in all the games for this
6. Some of the cars (was; were) parked on the
3. Collective Nouns: - A collective noun (name of
a group) in the singular form takes a singular
verb since it refers to one group of persons or
The army (of soldiers) was training in the for-
BUT The armies were training in the forest.
Now try these:- (Refer to rules nos. 1, 2 and 3)
Practice Exercise #2: Tick ( ) the correct
form of the Verb to complete each of the fol-
(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'.
(S1) Her sister and Diane are members of our
school's basketball team.
(S2) 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.
(S1) Either Sammy or Ronnie is coming across
to assist you.
(S2) Neither the pumpkin nor the bag of
potatoes was sold.
Practice Exercise #3: Now try these:- (Refer to
rules #4 and #5)
Underline the correct form of the verb to com-
plete each of the following sentences.
(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 sub-
ject 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 sentence.
(a) Neither she nor I (has; have) visited there, be-
(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 sub-
ject 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) jog-
ging 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 the hall.
(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 singu-
Simon together with his two sisters is attend-
ing the Science Fair, next week.
Continued on next page
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