Subject Verb Agreement
Subject-Verb Agreement Two Or More Nouns By And
If the subject of a sentence is composed of two or more nouns or pronouns that are connected by and, use a plural verb.
- Jack and his sisters are in their house.
- Our cat and dog play together all day.
Subject-Verb Agreement Two Or More Nouns Connected Or And Nor
If the subject of a sentence is composed of two or more singular nouns or pronouns that are connected by or or nor, use a singular verb.
- Jack nor his dad is in their house.
- The cat or the dog plays outside.
Subject-Verb Agreement Compound Subject Singular And Plural
If the subject of a sentence is composed of both a singular and a plural noun or pronoun joined by or or nor, the verb needs to agree with the part that is closest to the verb.
- Tim or his brothers work almost every day.
- Her friends or her mom goes to the mall on the weekends.
Subject-Verb Agreement Specific Singular Words
Singular words such as each, each one, either, neither, everyone, everybody, anybody, anyone, nobody, somebody, someone, and no one require a singular verb.
- Everyone likes to work with Tim.
- Neither connection is stable.
- Each of the dishes looks delicious.
Subject-Verb Agreement Phrases
Be careful when there is a phrase between the subject and the verb. The rule is the verb needs to agree with the subject and not with the noun or pronoun in the phrase.
- The captain of the ship, as well as the crew, is ready to leave.
- One of the cats, along with the dogs, is not in the house.
- Our customers with an average of ten employees each are all here.
- My friend Jack with two dogs walks by my house in the morning.
Subject-Verb Agreement Nouns Two Parts
When the subject is a noun where there are two parts, they require a plural verb. Examples of these are pants, slacks, shorts, briefs, jeans, reading glasses, sunglasses, scissors, pliers and tweezers. These nouns are plural and take on a plural verb.
- My jeans are in the closet.
- Her shorts are on the bed.
- Where are my sunglasses?
Subject-Verb Agreement with Collective Nouns
It is common to use singular nouns that represent groups of people as if they where plural (for example: staff, team, and committee). The reason for this usage is that we think of the group as one unit or what we refer to as a collection. Here are some examples of collective nouns:
choir, class, club, committee, company, family, government, jury, school, staff, team, union, the GOP, board of directors, the Democratic Party, Oakland Raiders, the Central Intelligence Agency
The way that you determine if you use a singular or plural verb is based on how it is used. If the collective noun is singular it usually takes a singular verb. If the collective noun is singular but is not acting as a group then you use a plural verb. Here are examples that you typically see with collective nouns and a singular verb:
- The team is running onto the field.
- The committee is voting on the new leader.
- The band agrees that the song is terrible.
Here are examples with collective nouns and a plural verb since the members are acting independently:
- The team are going home to see their own families.
- The committee are traveling to their districts.
- The band disagree over the choice for the lead singer.
In the examples above it sounds more natural if you add “members of” or other phrases it sounds more natural for the subject verb agreement.
Subject-Verb Agreement with There is, There are
- There’s a pie in the oven.
- There are two boys on the swings.
We use there is when the subject is singular, and there are is used when the subjects are plural:
[There is] + [singular subject]
[There are] + [plural subject]
|+||There is||trouble||up ahead.|
|There’s||still a||leak||on the roof.|
|There’s||no||time||to chat longer.|
|–||There isn’t||any||alcohol||in this drink.|
|+||There are||two||cookies||in the jar.|
|There are||always many||recipes||to choose from.|
|There are||many||ways||to get there.|
|–||There aren’t||any||dents||in the car.|
*Note that singular includes uncountable nouns (uncountable nouns are always singular)
There is with singular subject series
If there is a list of singular subjects we use there is. For example:
|There is||red, green and purple||in the box of crayons.|
|There is||rain, heavy wind and hail||in the forecast.|
|There is||milk, coke and sprite||to choose to drink.|
Above, the phrase “red, green and purple in the box of crayons” lists three things, so it may not make sense to use the singular. However, this is a case of ellipsis, where we omit words that are repeated.
There is red, green and purple in the box of crayons actually means, There is red, there is green and there is purple in the box of crayons.
There is/are with singular/plural subject series
When we converse we use the verb tense that agrees with the subject closest to it. This is especially important when we list singular and plural subjects together. For example:
- There’s a banana and two apples in the basket.
- There are three scarves and a hat in the closet.
- There’s some soda and three bags of chips in the picnic basket.
- There are five boys and some girls running around at the park.
There is/are + a lot of/lots of
It is always confusing to understand whether we use “there is” or “there are” when using a lot of/lots of? The answer to this confusion is that it depends on the noun. If the noun is singular we use “there is”; if it is plural we use “there are”. For example:
|There are||a lot of lots of||crayons||in the box.|
|There is||a lot of lots of||excitement||about Santa Claus.|