What Every Sentence Has: Subject and Verb

WRITTEN October 23, 2015 Author: Rich Atkins

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) work (the verb) are plural.]

  • Plural:          A train and a bus hold many passengers.

[A train and a bus (the subject) is plural; therefore, hold (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, work (the verb) needs to be singular.]

            The sales team or the directors are not here.
[directors is plural; therefore, are (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, orthing.

  • Singular:    Each worker must do her/his job.

[Each worker (the subject) is always singular; therefore, do (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, were (the verb) needs to be plural.]

For indefinite pronouns that end in –body, –one, orthing, 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)

 


This information is from the Business Grammar & Usage class curriculums. If you’re looking for ways to improve your communication skills, register for one of our public classes.

Other Resources:

Examples of Subject/Verb Agreement

Subject and Verb Agreement | Grammar Rules

Test Yourself on Subject/Verb Agreement

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