Monday, May 18, 2009
Subject Verb Agreeement
Subject Verb Agreement
Making Verbs Agree in Number with Subjects
If you have a singular subject, you need a singular verb. (Remember, a singular verb has an “s” on the end.)
If you have a plural subject, you need a plural verb. (Remember, a plural verb does not have an “s” on the end.)
Example Singular Subjects and Verbs
The dog eats my homework.
Sub. = dog
Verb = eats
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy mole.
Sub. = fox
Verb = jumps
Subject Verb Agreement with Compound Subjects
First, you look for a key word. What words tell you that you have something compound?
You do different things based on which word is used.
Compound Subjects with “AND”
If a subject is made compound with the word “and,” then the verb is ALWAYS PLURAL.
For example: The dog and cat eat my homework.
Sub. = dog and cat (plural)
Verb = eat (plural)
Compound Subjects with “OR”
If a subject is made compound with the word “or,” you have to look to the word after the “or.” Then you have two choices.
1. If the word after the “or” is singular, then the verb is singular.
2. If the word after the “or” is plural, then the verb is plural.
Example Compound Subjects with “OR”
The dog or cats eat my homework.
Sub. = dog or cats (“Cats” is plural, so I need a plural verb.)
Verb = eat
The dog or cat eats my homework.
Sub. = dog or cat (“Cat” is singular, so I need a singular verb.)
Verb = eats
Help with “OR” to Create Compound Subjects
If you are having trouble determining if you should use a singular or plural verb, take the first part of the compound subject away and reread the sentence. Fill in the verb that makes sense.
For example: The parakeet, dog, or cats eat my homework. (Take away “parakeet” and “dog”. Make the verb match the last subject “cats.” Cats eat my homework.
Making Verbs Agree When There Are Intervening Phrases
Make sure you match your verb to your subject, NOT the object of the preposition.
For example: The dog with the long claws eats my homework.
Sub. = dog (NOT claws)
Verb = eats
Making Verbs Agree with Indefinite Pronoun Subjects
You must remember back to your indefinite pronouns.
If the indefinite pronoun is singular, then the verb is singular.
If the indefinite pronoun is plural, then the verb is plural.
If the indefinite can be both singular and plural, then you have to look to a previous sentence or prepositional phrase to find the antecedent and make the verb agree with the antecedent.
Singular Indefinite Pronouns
Singular indefinite pronouns use singular verbs (singular verbs have an “S” on the end).
Singular indefinite pronouns used as the antecedent are replaced with singular personal pronouns.
Example Sing. Indef. Pronouns
Somebody should bring his or her bottle opener to the picnic.
Each has chosen his or her favorite dessert.
Everyone is welcome to the party!
Plural Indef. Pronouns
Plural indefinite pronouns use plural verbs (plural verbs do not have an “S” on the end).
Plural indefinite pronouns used as the antecedent are replaced with plural personal pronouns
Sing. And Plural Indef. Pronoun
Some indefinite pronouns can be used to replace singular or plural antecedents.
You know if it is singular or plural two ways. 1. Look to the prepositional phrase near it. Find the object of the preposition. If the object of the preposition is singular and is an antecedent for the indefinite pronoun, then the pronoun is singular. If the o.p. is plural, then the indefinite pronoun is plural 2. Find the antecedent for the indefinite pronoun in a previous sentence and match the plurality.
If an indefinite pronoun is functioning as an antecedent, then match the personal pronoun to the indefinite pronoun when you figure out if it is singular or plural.
Singular or Plural Indefinite Pronouns
Example Sing/Plural Indef. Pronouns
All of my friends are here. They are happy.
Indef. Pronoun = All
O.P. = Friends
“Friends” is plural, so “all” is plural
Verb = are (plural)
“All” is plural, so we have to use “They” in the second sentence. “They” is plural.
Dealing with Subjects in Unusual Places
Traditionally, a subject comes before a verb. However, a subject can be in four unusual places.
1. In a question
2. In a sentence that begins with “here” or “there”
3. In a command
4. In a sentence that begins with a phrase
Make sure you find the subject and make the verb agree with it.
Subject Verb Agreement in Questions
What on earth is he doing?
Sub. = he (singular)
Verb = is (singular)
Are your parents coming to dinner?
Sub. = parents (plural)
Verb = Are (plural)
Subject Verb Agreement in Sentences Beginning with Here or There
Here comes Prince Charming to save the princess.
Sub. = Prince Charming (singular)
Verb = comes (singular)
There go The Three Musketeers off to save the day!
Sub. = The Three Musketeers (plural)
Verb = go (plural)
Subject Verb Agreement in Sentences That Are Commands
In a command, the subject is an understood “you.” Therefore, it does not appear in the sentence. In this case, the traditional verb choice is plural.
Go to the office!
Stay in your seat.
In both cases, I am talking to only one person, but I use a plural verb.
Subject Verb Agreement in Sentences That Begin with Prepositional Phrases
Make sure you match the verb to the subject, not the object of the preposition.
In the trees flies the bird.
Sub. = bird
Verb = flies
Over the river and through the woods go we to grandmother’s house.
Sub. = we
Verb = go