What Every Sentence Has: Subject and Verb

WRITTEN October 23, 2015 Author: Rich Atkins

SUBJECT and VERB AGREEMENT

One of the basic aspects of sentence structure is ensuring proper agreement between the subject and verb.

A singular subject uses a singular verb; a plural subject uses a plural verb.

  • Singular:        Loretta works here.

                            [Loretta, the subject, and works, the verb, are singular.]

  • Plural:            The siblings work here.

                            [The siblings, the subject, and work, the verb, are plural.]

                                A train and a bus hold many passengers.

                            [A train and a bus is plural; therefore, the verb needs to be     plural.]

When parts of a subject are joined by or, or nor, the verb agrees with the nearer part.

            Neither Jeannie nor I work here.

                  [I is singular; therefore, the verb needs to be singular.]

            The sales team or the directors are not here.

                  [directors is plural; therefore, the verb needs to be plural.]

Singular indefinite pronouns use singular verbs. These pronouns include each, either, neither, and words that end in -body, -one, or –thing.

Singular:    Each worker must do her/his job.

                  [Each worker, the subject, is always singular; therefore, the verb needs to be singular.]

Plural indefinite pronouns use plural verbs. These pronouns include several, few, both, and many.

Plural:        Several were eager to go further.

                                [Several¸ the subject, is always plural; therefore, the verb    needs to be plural.]

For indefinite pronouns that end in -body, -one, or –thing, imagine adding “single” to reinforce the pronoun’s need for a singular verb.

  •  Everyone → Every (single) one                      Everyone needs a friend.
  •  Somebody → Some (single) body                  Somebody needs help.
  •  Anything → Any (single) thing                      Anything goes.
  •  No one → No (single) one                              No one knows.

 

Indefinite Pronouns

Any

(single)

-body

Every

(single)

-one

No

(single)

-thing

Some

(single)

 

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