Free Civil Service Exam Reviewer: English/Subject-Verb Agreement

The subject-verb agreement simply means the subject and verb must agree in number. This means both need to be singular or both need to be plural.

Subject-verb agreement is the agreement of subject and verb in terms of number. 

Number pertains to singularity and plurality of a word. The general rule is when a subject is singular, the verb should also be singular or when a subject is plural the verb should also be in plural. Also, here we listed some other specific rules in the subject-verb agreement.

1. A compound subject, if it refers to one person or thing, takes a singular verb.

  • The treasurer and my best friend are Janella.
  • The singer and songwriter is the husband of Regine.

2. If the compound subject uses oreither…or, and neither…nor, the verb should take the number of the nearer noun.

  • Either the children or the mother arrives early.
  • Neither the men nor Joey finds the document.

3. Every and each, if it modifies or precedes a compound subject, is considered as singular.

  • Each pen and book is a good contribution to our donation drive.
  • Every boy and girl needs to take the survey.

4. Prepositional phrases placed between the subject and the verb usually do not affect agreement.

  • The guy on the street has been there for about an hour ago.

(Note: The prepositional phrase “on the street” only gives an additional idea about the subject “guy.” Thus, the prepositional phrase does not affect the number of the subject and the verb.)

  • The leader of the people always looks forward to optimism.

5. When the subject is followed by expressions such as “along with,” ”as well as,” “besides,” “with,” “including,” and “together with,” the number (singular or plural) shall be determined only by its subject.

  • Ace, as well as Jason McUnat, goes to Baguio to look for strawberry.
  • The mayor, together with the vice mayor, decides to reschedule the acknowledgment ceremony.
  • I, along with my fellow men, am traveling to see people who are interested in our subject.

6. Indefinite pronouns such as “several,” “both,” “many,” and “few” take plural verbs.

  • Several love to hike mostly when it is summer.
  • Many see things the same.
  • Few are to be selected in the audition.

7. Indefinite pronouns such as “either,” “neither,” “each,” “anyone,” “someone,” “anybody,” and “everyone” take singular verb.

  • Neither of them finishes the race first.
  • Each has the opportunity to become successful.
  • Everyone has the potential to do more.

8. None can either be singular or plural: If the word none means “not any,” it is plural, but if it means “no one or not one,” it is singular in number.

  • None of the engines are working. (Not any of the engines are working,)
  • None of the members refuses to go quit. (Not one of the members …)
  • None of us wants to fail.
  • None of us want to fail.
  • None of the students fail to submit their homework.

(Note here that the word “their” precludes the use of singular verb.)

9. Some words appear in plural form (ending in -s, -es), yet they convey singular number and require singular verb as well.

Examples are billiards, civics, measles, molasses, mumps, mathematics, physics, politics, etc.

  • Mathematics is one of the hardest portions of the exam.
  • Physics is one of the most memorable subjects to me.

10. Nouns that have plural terminations being expressed in pairs are called “All-Time Plural Nouns.” Thus, these nouns require plural verbs too. Examples are pants, socks, shoes, etc.

  • The shoes are placed under that chair.
  • My pants haven’t been washed for five consecutive wearings.

11. A collective noun requires a singular verb when it is taken as a single unit; and plural verb when it focuses on the individuals in the group. Examples of collective nouns are team, committee, board of trustees, class, dollars, years, miles and faculty.

  • The committee comes up with a single conclusion.
  • The team returns in their own rooms.

12. In the case of variety of number of the subject and the predicate nominative, the verb still agrees with its subject.

  • His inspiration is his goals, his friends, and his loved ones.
  • Singing, dancing, and sports are his specialization.

13. When a sentence talks about unit of measurement, numbers or mathematical abstractions, the verb is singular. On the other hand, when a sentence measures idea individually, plural verb is required.

  • 10 kilograms of rice is enough of a couple of days.
  • 2 litters of cola suffice our sudden thirst.
  • 10 people take the test one at a time.
  • 100% of the product is authentic.

14. Noncount nouns or uncountable nouns take a singular verb.

  • Education is expensive, ignorance is free.
  • Water is enough for a day of diet for Junnie Girl.
  • Feedback makes us aware of what people wanted.

15. In sentences in “expletive form” or expletives (eg. there is…, there are…, it is…), the subject follows the verb.

  • There are people outside waiting for you.
  • There is always hope in times of darkness.
  • It is Restituto who authored that book.

Sources: Insignia Review Center – CHQ Institute Inc.

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