Rules of Subject Verb Agreement

The Verbs agree with the Subjects in number and person. This is called Subject Verb Agreement or Syntax.

Below are the top 30 golden rules of Subject Verb Agreement.


Golden Rules of Subject Verb Agreement


Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #1

A Singular Subject takes a Singular Verb and a Plural Subject takes a Plural Verb.
  • There is a man
  • There are four men.
  • He is happy
  • They are happy
NOTE: But a Singular Subject takes a Plural Verb in the Subjunctive Mood :
  • 1f 1 were a bird, I would fly in the sky.
  • If I were the CM, I would abolish the exam.

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #2

Nouns that cannot be counted take the Singular Verb even though it is plural in meaning.
  • Her hair is grey.
  • The grass is getting long.

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #3

If the adjective is used as a noun, then the + adjective is followed by the plural verb.
  • The old are generally respected.
  • The poor are not always dishonest.

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #4

Adding two or more Subjects by 'and' is Plural Verb. Again, if there is no or not in one of the two subjects connected by ‘and’, the verb is formed according to the previous Subject of no or not.
  • Arpita and Paramita are two sisters.
  • He and his friend have arrived here.
  • I, and not my brother, have done this.
  • Only boys and no girls are guilty.
  • Only he and not his friends is the culprit.

Also, Read Active and Passive Voice


Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #5

If two Singular Nouns combine a single person or object, then the Verb is Singular.
  • The Headmaster and President of the school is coming.
  • The Headmaster and the President of the school are coming.
  • A black and white horse is my favourite.
  • A black and a white horse are for sale.

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #6

Even if there is a plural form in the title or name, if it deals with a subject, then Singular Verb is used.
  • ‘Star Wars’ was a very successful film.
  • Two hours is a long time to wait.
  • Five miles is too far to walk.

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #7

Each or Every-connected Subject always takes Singular verb.
  • Every pupil has a book.
  • Each boy was wicked.
  • Each boy and each girl was dressed in a new dress.
  • Every man, woman, and child was charmed.
  • Every hour and minute brings its call for duty.

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #8

If two or more Singular subjects are joined by 'or', 'nor', 'either ..... or', 'neither ..... nor', then the Verb is Singular.
  • The boy or the girl is fond of sweets.
  • Either Amal or Bimal has eaten the mango.
  • Neither you nor I was there.

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #9

When a Singular and a Plural subject are joined by 'or', 'nor', 'either ....... or', 'neither ...... nor', then the Plural subject comes at the end and the Verb -Is Plural.
  • Either Nikhil or his friends have done this work.
  • Neither Nilu nor her brothers were hurt.

Also, Read Time and Tense


Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #10

When 'or', 'nor', 'either… or', 'neither… nor' combine the Subject of different Person, then the Subject of the Person at the end, the Verb is according to that Person.
  • Either he or I have done this.
  • Neither you nor he is to blame.
  • Either you or he/I shall go to market.

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #11

If the subject of different numbers or person is added by 'and' then the verb is plural.
  • You, he, and I are friends.
  • You and he are birds of the same feather.
  • You and I (not, I and you) would enjoy the T.V.

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #12

Collective nouns, when used to convey the sense of togetherness or unanimous action take the singular form of the verb. But when they are used to convey the sense of separation they take a plural verb. e.g. Audience, Class, Committee, Crowd, Flock, Jury, Parliament, Team, etc.
  • The Audience was listening attentively.
  • The class was silent.
  • The committee has issued its report.
  • The flock is grazing.
  • The jury was divided in their opinions.

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #13

A lot of / A group of / A number of collectively takes the Verb of Singular Number and the Verb of Plural Number in different entities.
  • There are a lot of boys on the ground.
  • A lot of boys are playing on the field.
  • Here is a group of boys.

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #14

Some Nouns which are Singular in form but Plural in meaning, take Plural Verb.

The police (= policemen) are questioning a man. But, the policeman is watching outside the house.

  • People have to obey the rules.
  • Two dozen (not dozens) make twenty-four.
  • One dozen of eggs cost eighteen rupees.

Also, Read Degrees of Comparison


Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #15

Some Nouns which are plural in form but Singular in meaning, take Singular Verb.
  • The news is true
  • The wages of sin is death.
  • Physics is a branch of science.
  • Politics is the business of his life.
NOTE: But some Nouns are always Plural and take a Plural Verb).
The goods were found to be defective.
My belongings have been destroyed.

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #16

When a Plural Noun is preceded by 'one of', 'each of', 'either of', 'neither of', etc., then the Verb is Singular, not Plural. In such cases Plural Verb is often mistakenly placed.
  • One of the boys was ill. (not were)
  • The quality of the oranges is not good. (not are)
  • Each of the girls is clever. (not are)
  • Either of the books is stolen.
  • Neither of the books was interesting. (not were)

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #17

'More than one' takes Singular Verb; But 'More than two / three' or more takes the Plural Verb.
  • More than one boy is guilty.
  • [But] More than two boys are guilty.

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #18

If more than one subject is added by with, together with or as well as, then the verb is according to the first subject.
  • They with their father deserve praise.
  • Subhas as well as his friends was punished.

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #19

When Parenthesis sits after the Subject in the corner, it does not affect the subject-verb agreement in any way. The part of Bacchus that is not associated with the structure of the original sentence is called parenthesia.

He, and not you, (used parenthetically), has won the prize.

Also, Read Transformation of Sentence


Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #20

In case of not only… but also, the verb is according to the last subject.

Not only George but also his friends are buying books.


Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #21

If the Relative Pronoun is the Subject, then the verb is according to the Number and Person of the Antecedent, i.e. its previous Noun or Pronoun.
  • I who am your friend should stand by you.
  • He who is my friend should stand by me.
  • You who are my friend should stand by me.

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #22

Pronouns and verbs of masculine gender or feminine gender are used according to the context in case of anybody, everybody, anyone, everyone, each etc.
  • I shall help each of the girls in her studies.
  • Each of the boys will do his duty.

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #23

One always sits in place of One.
  • One should be careful of one’s (not his/her) duties.
  • One cannot be too careful about what one (not he) says.

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #24

After than or as, the case and verb of the pronoun have to be placed according to the meaning of the context.
  • He is taller than I (am).
  • I like you better than he (likes you).
  • I like you better than (I like) him.

Also, Read Parts of Speech


Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #25

When Many a / Many an is added before the Noun, then it becomes Singular form and the verb also becomes Singular.
  • Many a rose is born to blush unseen.
  • Many an admirer praises him.

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #26

Plural Verb sits after Pair Noun like trousers, scissors, glasses etc.
  • Here are the scissors.
  • These trousers need cleaning.
  • Your new glasses are very nice.
NOTE: We cannot use or number before the Pair Nouns.
"Not a trouser and Not two trousers."
We can use pair (s) of + such Pair Nouns with a singular or a plural verb.
This pair of trousers needs cleaning.

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #27

The auxiliary verb sits once when the two principal verbs are related, following the structure of an auxiliary verb.

I have lost the pen but (have) got the book.


Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #28

If a clause or phrase is the subject, then take the Singular Verb.
  • To err is human.
  • That he is honest is known to me.

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #29

When two numbers are joined by 'and',then the verb is singular. However, in this case now Plural Verb is also being used.
  • Two and two makes (make) four.
  • Four and five makes (make) nine.

Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #30

Half of, two-thirds of, three-fourths of the greater / greatest part of, etc. When the quantity is indicated, then it is a Singular verb, and when the number is indicated then it is Plural Verb.

  • Half of the apple is rotten.
  • Half of the apples are good.
  • Half of the land is cultivated.
  • Two-thirds of the boys are absent.

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