SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT

 

  1. A compound subject (two or more elements joined by "and") is plural and requires a plural verb form.

         a) A dog and a cat were fighting outside my window last night.

 

   2. Subjects that are compound in appearance but which function as singular units may take singular verbs.

        a) Their screeching and shouting is making me nervous.

 

   3. A verb phrase used as a subject always takes a singular form.

       a) Asking your boss for special favours is not a good idea.

       b) To err is human, to forgive divine.

 

   4. A phrase placed between a subject and a verb (e.g.."along with," "together with," "in addition to," "as well as")   

       does not affect the verb form.

       a) My sister, together with her two friends, was invited to the party.

 

   5. Collective nouns such as team, jury, family, and government are usually treated as singular rather than plural if

        the emphasis is on the unit rather than on the individuals.

        a) The government is not spending enough on cancer research.

 

   6. When a form of the verb "be" connects a subject of one number with a predicate nominative of another number,

       the verb agrees in number with the subject.

       a) Cameras are the country's leading export. The country's leading export is cameras.

 

   7. In inverted sentence order (verb before subject), the verb agrees in number with the      

         subject, which follows the verb.

         a) Resting on the porch were two cats.

         b) Under these pillows sleeps my dog.

 

   8. Nouns that are plural in form but singular in meaning, such as physics, mathematics,  

       economics, and acoustics, normally take singular verbs.

 

   9. A plural noun that establishes a weight, measurement, period of time, or amount of money  

         normally takes a singular verb when it is being used as a single unit. When such a noun    

         clearly indicates a plurality of units, however, it takes a plural verb.

          a) During the Middle Ages, thirty- eight years was considered a long life span.

          b) Three- dollar bills are on the table.

 

  10. In the constructions "either/neither ... or/nor" and "not only ... but also," the verb agrees with the element of

         the  subject nearer to the verb ("or" alone sometimes functions as "either ... or”).

         a) Either the students or the teacher is responsible for the problem.

         b) Either the teacher or the students are responsible for the problem.