Subjects /English Grammar - SSC Banking & Railway Exams / Subject Verb Agreement
Subject – verb agreement is the most important topic of English grammar.
The agreement between the subject of a sentence and the verb form of the sentence is a must condition for the sentence to be grammatically correct.
Note: Here by verb, we mean to say Finite Verbs only. A sentence can have any number of non-finite verbs but there must be a finite verb which has to be in agreement with the subject (noun or pronoun).
Example: Dancing, singing and drinking, we celebrated the New Year’s Eve with a lot of enthusiasm.
In the above sentence, there is only one finite verb and that is - Celebrated.
Dancing, singing and drinking are non-finite verbs.
This topic contains the various rules to be followed while making sentences.
Basics of Subject and Verb Agreement
The basis of Subject and Verb agreement is -
- If subject is singular, verb is singular.
- If subject is plural, the verb is plural.
- Noun + s/es make a Noun Plural.
Like - boys and girls
- Verb + s/es Make a Verb singular.
Like - laughs and dances
Words end in -'ce' are noun. (Example: Advice)
- Words end in -'se' are verb. (Example: Advise)
Rules for Subject and Verb Agreement
What will be the verb after a country or city?
Well, if you have this doubt then this rule will help you solve it.
- If you are using the name of a country or city respectively in a sentence, the verb will be singular.
- And If it means any team, then it will take Plural verb.
- Let’s take an example of – India
- If it means a country -
- India is seventh largest country of the world. (Verb here is Singular)
- If it means a team -
- India have won the innings. (Verb here is Plural)
Tip: You can learn this rule by thinking like – Country or city must be united so it takes singular verb and there could be division in a team so it takes plural verb.
If two nouns or pronouns are connected by ‘and’, we always use plural verb.
- Ram and Mohan are in the same soccer team.
- Suresh and Ramesh have started a new venture.
Note: Keep in the mind the rule of sequence of pronouns and exceptions.
- Wrong: I and you have performed well in the class test. (x)
- Correct: You and I have performed well in the class test.
Exception for Rule 2:
There are Idioms like:
Bread and butter, Time and tide, sum and substance, honour and glory, etc.
When idioms like these are used in a sentence then the verb is singular always, as idioms mostly represents a singular subject.
- Brick and stone has been booked for the new house.
- Rise and fall is a part of everyone’s life.
- Bread and butter is the basic part of living.
- Sum and substance of this play deals with human emotions.
- Honour and glory is the most important part of one’s life.
Note: Attention must be given to idiom – Bread and butter.
- Bread and Butter
- If it means Amenities – Verb will be singular.
- If it means Breakfast – Verb will be Singular.
- If they mean articles – Verb will be plural.
- Bread and Butter are in the fridge.
Verb will be according to nearest noun or pronoun, if the following conjunctions are used:
- Either - or
- Neither – nor
- Not only – but also
- Not only the students but also the class teacher is not interested in the play.
- Not only the class teacher but also the students are not interested in the play.
Verb will be according to the first noun or pronoun, if the following conjunctions are used:
- With, alongwith, as well as, in addition to, and not, but, except, like, unlike, etc.
- Rohan with his friends is going for picnic.
- Students with their class teacher are going for trekking.
- He as well as I is working hard for the welfare of the society.
The use of not only- but also is the given question is wrong. Keep the structure of it in mind.
Q) Not only he plays but also runs well. (Wrong)
Correct: Not only plays he but also runs well.
Explanation: to add emphasis in a sentence, we can use not only at the beginning of a clause. When we do this, we invert the subject and the verb.
Example: Not only was it raining the whole day at the wedding but also the band was late.
A number of + Plural Noun + Plural Verb + their (possessive adjective)
The number of + Plural Noun + Singular Verb + his (possessive adjective)
The percentage of can take both Uncountable nouns and plural nouns and take Singular verb.
- A number of players from every corner of the country have participated in the cricket championship.
- The number of students taking part in Kabbaddi is increasing every year.
- The percentage of impurities in every day diet is increasing.
If Most is equivalent to a noun, we never use ‘the’ before it.
- Wrong:He says the most of the books he read is of sci-fi. (x)
- Correct: He says most of the books he read is of sci-fi.
A many, A great many, A good many + Plural Noun + Plural Verb
Many a/an + Singular Noun + Singular Verb
- A great many entrepreneurs who are doing so well now a days have not even attended high school.
- Many a car is defaulted now a days.
When two nouns are connected using preposition each must be singular. The construction will take singular verb.
- Page after page. (not – pages after pages)
- Ship after ship
- Word after word.
- Page after page has been read by me.
Using ‘Each’ in a sentence can modify the subject. The verb will be according to the subject.
- We each have to understand our role in the team.
- Each of us has a property of our own.
1. If two nouns are connected using a conjunction and only one article is used before the first noun, then the verb will be singular.
- Article + Noun + and + Noun + Verb (Singular)
- A cricketer and politician is hosting a comedy show.
2. If two nouns are connected using a conjunction and both have an article before them, then the verb will be plural.
- Article + Noun + and + article + Noun + Verb (Plural)
- A cricketer and a comedian have started a new venture.
1. If two articles of a noun are connected using a conjunction and only one article is placed before the first article then the verb will be singular.
- Article + Adjective + and + Article + Noun + Verb (Singular)
- A black and white cat is crossing the road.
2. If two articles of a noun are connected using a conjunction and both have their own article then the verb will be plural.
- Article + Adjective + and + Article + Adjective + Noun + Verb (Plural)
- A black and a white dress have been purchased by me.
If we use ‘More than’ in a sentence then verb will be according to the noun of the sentence.
Explanation: If noun is singular, verb will also be singular and if noun is plural verb will also be plural.
- More than one poem is readable
- More than two poems are readable.
- More poems than one are readable.
Using article ‘The’ before an adjective represents the whole community, so it takes plural verb after it.
- The + adjective is equivalent to Community and takes Plural Verb.
- The + Adjective = Community + Verb (Plural)
Example: The Rich = People
- A/The + Singular Countable Noun = Community + Singular Verb.
- You should not laugh at the poor.
This rule is related to words – Following and Undersigned.
‘Following’ and ‘Undersigned’ in a sentence are equivalent to ‘There’
It takes plural verb always.
- Following are the rules you should remember. (remember not Followings)
- Undersigned are the terms and conditions you have to follow.
Wages and Means
- If Wages means money, then it takes Plural Verb
Example: His wages are not enough to live in a city.
- If Wages means Result, then it takes Singular Verb
Example: The wages of bravery is honour.
- Means always take Plural verb.
- Means + Plural Verb
Example:Means of living in a metro city are very high.
If we select single noun or pronoun from multiple, we use singular verb and singular possessive adjective.
- (Either, neither, each, anyone, none, everyone, one, some, any) + Of + (Plural Noun or Pronoun) + (Singular Verb) + His (Possessive adjective)
- None of them helps the poor.
- Everyone of them has done his homework.