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Subject-Verb Agreement | English Grammar | CBSE | ICSE | State Board

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

INTRODUCTION:

  • A verb must agree with its subject in Number and in Person. For example, if the subject is in the singular number, the verb also must be in singular and if it is in the plural, the verb also must be in the plural.

  • Moreover, if the subject is in the First Person, the Verb also must be in the ‘First Person’ and if the Subject is in the Third Person, the verb also must be in the ‘Third Person.’


Note: Refer to Verb & its Forms here.

Rule 1

If the two nouns suggest one idea or refer to the same person or thing, the verb is put in the Singular number.

  • Bread butter is her only food.

  • My friend and adviser is sick.


Rule 2

When two or more singular subjects are connected by ‘or, not, either…or, neither….nor, the Singular Verb is used.

  • He or his friend knows the secret.

  • Either you or your brother has seen him.

  • Neither he nor his friend was there.


Rule 3

If one of the subjects is ‘ in the plural’ the verb also must be ‘plural’

e.g. Either you or your brothers have seen the match.


Rule 4

When the subjects joined by or or nor are in different persons, the verb agrees in person with the subject nearest to it.

  • Either he or I am mistaken.

  • Neither you nor he is to blame.

Note: The above sentences can also be written in a better way as the following.

  • Either he is mistaken or I am

  • Neither you nor he is to blame.


Rule 5

When two subjects are joined by ‘as well as’, the verb agrees in number and person with the first subject.

  • The leader as well as his followers was excited. ( not were excited..)

  • My teachers as well as I was invited to the party. ( not were invited..)


Rule 6

Words like ‘’either, neither, each, everyone, Many a’’ must be followed by a singular verb.

  • Either of the two books reveals the idea.

  • Neither of the two girls has passed the exam.

  • Each of the boys is intelligent.

  • Everyone of the boys is studious.

  • Many a girl has attended the party. (‘many a girl’ means ‘many girls’)


Rule 7

Two nouns qualified by ‘each’ and ‘every’ though connected by ‘and’ requires a ‘singular verb’.

  • Each and every man has his own ways.

  • Every boy and every girl is given chances.

Rule 8

A collective noun takes a singular verb if it is regarded as a whole. But it takes plural verb if it is regarded as a number of individuals.

  • The assembly has issued a circular. ( taken as a whole)

  • The assembly have issued a circular ( when members are taken individually)


Rule 9

When a plural noun names a quantity or an amount as a whole, its verb is in singular.

  • Twenty thousand rupees is a large sum.

  • A hundred thousand rupees is a lakh.

  • The thousand rupees you gave me yesterday is pick-pocketed.


Rule 10

When a singular noun or a pronoun is joined to another noun or pronoun by ‘with, besides, and not, together with, no less than, etc, the verb is singular.

  • The shop with its goods was gutted in fire.

  • The ship with its crew was sunk.

  • He no less than you is guilty.

  • No one besides Sohan knows it.

  • The teacher together with his students has watched the match.

Rule 11

In modern day usage, ‘none’ is followed by plural verbs.

  • None of his answers are correct.

  • None of these facts are correct.

  • Are there any boys in the hostel? There are none.

Rule 12

Verbs take singular or plural in the following cases depending on whether the two profiles denote the same person or two different persons.

  • The secretary and Chairman was present in the meeting. ( Same Person)

  • The secretary and the Chairman were present in the meeting. ( different persons)

Recommended Resource for Self-Study Given Below

Subject Verb AgreementResources
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Attempt the Quiz on Subject-Verb Agreement Below


 

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