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Exercise 10: Subject-Verb Agreement

Choose the correct form of the verb in parentheses in the following sentences.


1. John, along with twenty friends, (is/are) planning a party.

2. The picture of the soldiers (bring/brings) back many memories.

3. The quality of these recordings (is/are) not very good.

4. If the duties of these officers (isn't/aren't) reduced, there will not be enough time to finish the project.

5. The effects of cigarette smoking (have/has) been proven to be extremely harmful.

6. The use of credit cards in place of cash (have/has) increased rapidly in recent years.

7. Advertisements on television (is/are) becoming more competitive than ever before.

8. Living expenses in this country, as well as in many others, (is/are) at an all-time high.

9. Mr. Jones, accompanied by several members of the committee, (have/ has) proposed some changes of the rules.

10. The levels of intoxication (vary/varies) from subject to subject.


Words that always take singular verbs and pronouns: Some words are often confused by students as being plural. The following words must be followed by singular verbs and pronouns in formal written English:


any + singular noun   some + singular noun every each
anybody nobody somebody everybody either*
anyone no one someone everyone neither*
anything nothing something everything  

* either and neither are singular if they are not used with or and nor.


Everybody who has not purchased a ticket should be in this line.

Something was under the house.

If either of you takes a vacation now, we will not be able to finish the work.

Anybody who has lost his ticket should report to the desk. (note the singular pronoun)

No problem is harder to solve than this one.

Nobody works harder than John does.


None/no: None can take either a singular or plural verb depending on the noun which follows it.

none + of the + non-count noun + singular verb

None of the counterfeit money has been found.


none + of the + plural count noun + plural verb

None of the students have finished the exam yet.

No can take either a singular or plural verb depending on the noun which follows it.

no + singular noun non-count noun + singular verb


No example is relevant to this case.


no + plural noun + plural verb


No examples are relevant to this case.


Either/neither: When either and neither are followed by or and nor the verb may be singular or plural depending on whether the noun following or and nor is singular or plural. If or or nor appears alone, the same rule applies. Study the following formulas.

neither either + noun + nor or + plural noun + plural verb

Neither John nor his friends are going to the beach today.

Either John or his friends are going to the beach today.


neither either + noun + nor or + singular noun + singular verb


Neither John nor Bill is going to the beach today.

Either John or Bill is going to the beach today.


Examples: Neither John nor Jane is going to class today.

Neither Maria nor her friends are going to class today.

John or George is bringing the car.

Neither Alicia norCarmen has seen this movie before.

Neither the director nor the secretary wants to leave yet.


Gerunds as subjects: If a sentence begins with [verb + ing] (gerund), the verb must also be singular.

Knowing her has made him what he is.

Dieting is very popular today.

Not studying has caused him many problems.

Washing with a special cream is recommended for scalp infections.

Being cordial is one of his greatest assets.

Writing many letters makes her happy.


Collective nouns: Also many words indicating a number of people or animals are singular. The following nouns are usually singular. In some cases they are plural if the sentence indicates that the individual members
are acting separately.

Congress family group committee class

organization team army club crowd

government jury majority* minority public


* Majority can be singular or plural. If it is alone it is usually singular; if it is followed by a plural noun, it is usually plural.

The majority believes that we are in no danger.

The majority of the students believe him to be innocent.


Examples of collective nouns:

The committee has met, and it has rejected the proposal.

The family was elated by the news.

The crowd was wild with excitement.

Congress has initiated a new plan to combat inflation.

The organization has lost many members this year.

Our team is going to win the game.


The following nouns are used to indicate groups of certain animals. It is not necessary to learn the nouns; however, they mean the same as group and thus are considered singular.

flock of birds, sheep

school of fish

herd of cattle

pride of lions

pack of dogs


The flock of birds is circling overhead.

The herd of cattle is breaking away.

A school of fish is being attacked by sharks.


Collective nouns indicating time, money, and measurements used as a whole arc singular.

Twenty-five dollars is too much to pay for that shirt.

Fifty minutes isn't enough time to finish this test.


Twenty dollars is all I can afford to pay for that recorder.

Two milesis too much to run in one day.

A number of / the number of:

a number of + plural noun + plural verb
the number of + plural noun + singular verb ...


A number of students are going to the class picnic, (a number of - many)

The number of days in a week is seven.

A number of the applicants have already been interviewed.

The number of residents who have been questioned on this matter is quite small.


Nouns that are always plural: The following nouns are always considered plural. They cannot be singular. In order to speak of them as singular, one must say: "a pair of .":











The pants are in the drawer.

A pair of pants is in the drawer.

The pliers were on the table.

The pair of pliers was on the table.

These scissors are dull.

This pair of scissors is dull.


There is/there are: Remember that with sentences beginning existential there, the subject is actually after the verb.

There is a storm approaching.

There have been a number of telephone calls today.

There was an accident last night.

There were too many people at the party.

There has been an increase in the importation of foreign cars.

There was water on the floor where he fell.

Date: 2015-12-11; view: 1714

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