I Agree With You!
Subject-Verb Agreement and Some Exceptions
Look at the following 2
are on the bus.
Jamie and Tom am with me.
Are there any problems with these sentences? Of course there are! What is
the subject of the first sentence? A subject is the noun or pronoun (or
person, place, or thing) that the sentence is about. It is sometimes
called the performer. In other words, the subject is also the
thing that is performing. Therefore, the
subject of the first sentence is I.
What is the verb (action word) that goes with the subject? You're right!
It is are
(a form of the verb to be). Is are
the correct verb? Should we use are
When a subject is with its correct verb, we called this subject-verb
agreement. Consequently, the above 2 sentences have problems with
If we assume the verb tense is correct, to fix the above 2 sentences'
subject-verb agreement problems, we would have to write
I am on the bus.
Jamie and Tom are with me.
We know that these 2 sentences are correct because we have learned the
following grammatical rules:
if the subject is singular, use am or is
if the subject is plural, use are
These rules are correct, but there are times when subject-verb agreement
isn't so easy and clear. Remember this rule: It is the subject that
determines the verb. Take a look at this example and choose the correct
My friend from Tokyo who has lots of dogs and cats is/are
a computer genius.
What is the subject? My friend from
Is My friend from Tokyo singular or plural? It is singular. Therefore, use
There are words between the subject and the verb (in this case it is an adjective
clause), but that doesn't matter. The rule still stands: It is
the subject that determines the verb.
We will present some other common (and confusing) mistakes.
Tests and Exercises (with all the answers and
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Use a singular verb after
Nobody is here.
Everybody helps when there is a crisis.
Somebody wants to speak to you.
If you use either-or, look at the
subject closest to the verb. If the subject closest to the verb is singular,
use a singular verb; likewise, if the subject is plural, use a plural verb.
|Either Miss Brown or Jane writes on the
Either the teacher or the students write on
This also applies to not
only. . .but also, and neither. . .nor.
The subject closest to the verb determines whether the verb is singular or
Not only Julie but also Georgette wants to visit
Not only Julie but also all of the grandchildren want
to visit grandma.
Neither Miss Brown n or Jane writes on the
Neither the teacher n or the students write on
in addition to,
no less than,
the noun before these phrases determines the number.
My problem with you is you don't listen!
Ford in addition to Mercedes Benz is lowering its car prices to encourage
The students in addition to the teacher are all receiving
special recognition for their excellent research.
Measurements of money,
time, and distance usually require a singular
One hundred dollars is a lot of money for a bottle of wine.
Two hours is a long time to wait to see a doctor.
93,000,000 miles is the distance from the sun to the earth.
The following words almost
always use the plural
form of verbs:
all, both, few, many, several,
Some people in my office are very annoying
Few mountain climbers have successfully reached the peak of Mt. Everest.
attention. Sometimes it uses a
singular verb, and at other times, it uses
plural verb. When
means no one or not one, use the singular form of
None of them is able to do that job.
When none means or suggests more than one thing or person, use the plural
form of the verb.
None are helpless because they can always try.
Here and there canNOT be subjects. Therefore, if a sentence begins with
here or there, look for the subject and write the correct form of the
Here is my jacket. (jacket is singular)
Here are my shoes. (shoes is plural)
When the word number
is preceded with the word a,
use a plural verb. When the word number
is preceded with the word the,
use a singular verb.
of people are
waiting to see you.
The number of stars in the sky seems
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Directions: Select the correct form of the verb in the sentence.
1. Some people is/are/am very good at
2. Somebody have/has the
winning lottery ticket.
3. The doctor who has visited dozens of countries and has helped
thousands of patients all around the world is/are/am
4. There is/are/am two sides
to every argument.
5. 5,280 feet is/are/am a
6. Jill as well as Jack is/are/am
up the hill.
7. Either Heather or I go/goes .
8. A: There is/are/am a
lot of people here.
B: Yeah. Everybody is/are/am
here for you. All of them is/are/am
waiting to listen to your speech.
9. Ten dollars is/are/am a
nice raise. I need the extra money.
10. Rice is/are/am a common
food all over the world. It is/are/am
very cheap. Two bags of rice cost/costs
11. Either the bus driver
or the motorcycle rider is/are/am responsible for the accident.
Neither the 23 children in the class nor Tony seem/seems to be
upset about failing the spelling bee.
A large number of countries is/are/am members of the United
only the fans but also the team's head coach was/were shocked to
be in the championship game.
The number of computer advances is/are/am increasing every year.