SUBJECT VERB AGREEMENT (SVA)
A few important definitions:
1. Sentence – A group of words that gives complete meaning.
2. Components of a sentence – A sentence usually is comprised of subject, verb and object. There cannot be a sentence without a verb as it is considered to be the heart of a sentence.
3. Subject – Performer of the action in the sentence is called as subject.
4. Verb – The word that denotes action or state of being of the subject is called as verb.
5. Object – Receiver of the action in the sentence is called as object.
The boy kicked the ball.
In this sentence,
Kicked is the verb,
Ask who kicked; answer – the boy. So, boy is the subject,
And what did he kick, the answer is the ball. So, ball is the object in this sentence.
Only A Noun or A Pronoun Can Act As A Subject or Object In A Sentence.
RULES OF SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT
I. Basic Rule of SVA:
§ The basic rule states that a singular subject takes a singular verb, while a plural subject takes a plural verb.
§ NOTE: The trick is in knowing whether the subject is singular or plural. The next trick is recognizing a singular or plural verb.
§ Generally by adding a s / es, we can form plural for the nouns. But, this is not so for the verbs.
You can remember this rule as
§ N + s /es = Plural Nouns
§ V + s /es = Singular verb
§ The flower smells sweet. (singular subject, verb with ‘s’)
§ The flowers smell sweet. (plural subject, verb without ‘s’)
§ He walks. (singular subject, verb with ‘s’)
§ They walk. (plural subject, verb without ‘s’)
MORE ABOUT NOUNS
Of all the parts of speech, nouns are perhaps the most important. A noun is a word that identifies a person, animal, place, thing, or idea.
§ Person – A term for a person, whether proper name, gender, title, or class, is a noun.
§ Animal – A term for an animal, whether proper name, species, gender, or class is a noun.
§ Place – A term for a place, whether proper name, physical location, or general locale is a noun.
§ Thing – A term for a thing, whether it exists now, will exist, or existed in the past is a noun.
§ Idea – A term for an idea, be it a real, workable idea or a fantasy that might never come to fruition is a noun.
TYPES OF NOUNS
|Common Nouns name people, places or things that are not specific.||man, mountain, state, ocean, country, building, cat, airline|
|Proper Nouns name specific people, places, or things.||Walt Disney, Mount Kilimanjaro, Minnesota, Atlantic Ocean, Australia, Empire State Building, Fluffy, Sun Country|
|Abstract Nouns name nouns that you can’t perceive with your five sense.||love, wealth, happiness, pride, fear, religion, belief, history, communication|
|Concrete Nouns name nouns that you can perceive with your five senses.||house, ocean, Uncle Mike, bird, photograph, banana, eyes, light, sun, dog, suitcase, flowers|
|Countable Nouns name nouns that you can count.||bed, cat, movie, train, country, book, phone, match, speaker, clock, pen, David, violin|
|Uncountable Nouns name nouns that you can’t count.||milk, rice, snow, rain, water, food, music|
|Collective Nouns refer to things or people as a unit.||bunch, audience, flock, team, group, family, band, village|
PLURALS OF NOUNS
1. Regular nouns
Most nouns form the plural by adding -s.
A noun ending in s, x, z, ch, sh makes the plural by adding-es.
A noun ending in a consonant and then y makes the plural by dropping the y and adding-ies.
2. Irregular nouns
There are some irregular formations for noun plurals. Some of the most common ones are listed below.
Some nouns have the same form in the singular and the plural.
LIST OF EXCEPTIONAL NOUNS
1. Singular verbs are usually used with nouns that are plural in form (with ‘s’) but singular in meaning.
The following nouns are usually singular in meaning: news, economics, ethics, physics, mathematics, gallows, mumps, measles, politics, innings, summons etc.
2. Plural verbs are usually used with nouns that are plural (with ‘s’) and plural in meaning.
Nouns like this include: trousers, jeans, glasses, savings, thanks, steps, stairs, customs, congratulations, tropics, wages, spectacles, outskirts, goods, wits, scissors, tweezers, pliers, binoculars etc.
3. Plural verbs are usually used with nouns that are plural (without ‘s’) but plural in meaning.
Nouns such as chicken, men, mice, bacteria, data, teeth, children etc. are usually treated as plural.
4. Singular verbs are used with nouns which are always singular in meaning.
Nouns such as advice, information, hair, luggage, furniture, bread, mischief, communication, baggage etc. are always singular and will take only singular verb.
5. Nouns which have same form in both singular and plural form
Nouns such as sheep, deer, fish, and offspring have the same form both in singular and plural form.
II. ‘With’ Rule:
§ Do not be misled by a phrase that comes between the subject and the verb.
§ The verb agrees with the subject, not with a noun or pronoun in the phrase.
§ Sometimes the subject is separated from the verb by words such as along with, as well as, besides, with, together with, in addition to, accompanied by, etc.
§ Ignore these expressions when determining whether to use a singular or plural verb.
§ The politician, along with the newsmen, is expected shortly.
§ The mayor as well as his brothers is going to prison.
§ The little girl along with her mother laughs at the crazy clown.
III. ‘And’ Rule:
§ If articles are present on both sides of ‘and’ for both the nouns, the subject becomes plural and requires a plural verb.
§ But if the article is present only on one side of ‘and’, then the subject is singular and hence the verb has to be a singular verb.
§ The Principal and the Secretary are coming to the college.
§ The Principal and Secretary is coming to the college.
§ Sometimes no article will be present when we use things together, then consider those combo subjects as singular and use singular noun.
· Bread and butter is my favourite breakfast.
IV. Conjunction Pair Rule:
§ If in the sentence, there is the usage of conjunction pairs such as: either – or, neither – nor, the verb agrees with the subject nearer to it.
§ Neither Jenny nor the others are available.
§ Neither Rohan nor his friends were present in the party.
§ Either my father or my brothers are going to sell the house.
V. ‘A number’ and ‘The number’:
§ The expression the number is followed by a singular verb.
§ The expression a number is followed by a plural verb.
§ The number of people we need to hire is thirteen.
§ A number of people have written in about this subject.
VI. Sums of Money & Periods of Time:
§ Use a singular verb with sums of money or periods of time, amount of distance, weight or volume.
§ Ten dollars is a high price to pay.
§ Five years is the maximum sentence for that offense.
VII. Collective Nouns Rule:
§ Collective Nouns (class, staff, committee, army, group, jury, crowd, team, etc.) may be singular or plural, depending on the usage in the sentence.
§ The class is learning English grammar. (Here the class is acting as one single unit, hence considered to be a singular subject.)
§ The class are arguing with one another over a debate topic. (Here the class is acting as a plural subject because the individual students are acting independently.)
PRONOUNS AS SUBJECT IN THE SENTENCE
A pronoun (I, me, he, she, herself, you, it, that, they, each, few, many, who, whoever, whose, someone, everybody, etc.) is a word that takes the place of a noun.
Types of Pronouns
1. Personal or Definite
Personal pronouns represent specific people or things. We use them depending on:
§ number: singular (e.g.: I) or plural (e.g.: we)
§ person: 1st person (e.g.: I), 2nd person (e.g.: you) or 3rd person (e.g.: he)
§ gender: male (e.g.: he), female (e.g.: she) or neuter (e.g.: it)
§ case: subject (e.g.: we) or object (e.g.: us)
|3rd||male/ female/ neuter||they||them|
Examples (in each pair, the first sentence shows a subject pronoun, the second an object pronoun):
§ I like coffee. / John helped me.
§ Do you like coffee? / John loves you.
§ He runs fast. / Did Ram beat him?
§ She is clever. / Does Mary know her?
§ It doesn’t work. / Can the man fix it?
§ We went home. / Anthony drove us.
§ Do you need a table for three? / Did John and Mary beat you at doubles?
§ They played doubles. / John and Mary beat them.
2. Indefinite Pronouns
|Always Singular(Singular Verb)||Always Plural(Plural Verb)||Singular or Plural (Antecedent)(Singular or Plural Verb)|
§ Everyone has finished his or her homework.
§ Each of the students is responsible for doing his or her work in the library.
§ Everybody knows Mr. Jones.
§ Several students know the answer.
§ Many are already raising their hands.
§ Others have not read the chapter.
Antecedent Indefinite Pronouns:
Some other pronouns can act as singular or plural subject depending on their usage in the
sentence and depends on the noun following them in the sentence.
§ All the students were present in the class.
§ Two-fifths of the vineyard was destroyed by fire.
§ Two-fifths of the troops were lost in the battle.
§ All of the pie is gone.
§ All of the pies are gone.