Compound Subjects. As usual in English, there are exceptions to the rules above. *There are some singular words that frequently trip people up. The boy or his friends run every day. Having your work proofread is a good idea if you’re not confident about this aspect of grammar. After using a compound subject, writers are sometimes unsure whether to use a singular or plural verb. Auxiliary (or “helper”) verbs (e.g., “is”/“are” or “has”/“have”) also cause trouble, since they often change depending on whether the subject is singular or plural when using a past participle (e.g., “The boy has finished his homework” vs. “The boys have finished their homework”). Give us your email address to learn more about how we can create high-quality content for you. (Reason 1) Match your compound subject to the right verb. But opting out of some of these cookies may have an effect on your browsing experience. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. For plural compound subjects joined by or or nor, use a plural verb. Sometimes writers get so caught up in adding descriptive information to their sentences that they forget whether the subject was singular or plural by the time they get to the verb. In this context, the “subject” is the person or thing in the sentence performing the action, while the verb is the action being performed: In the simple past tense, though, there’s usually no difference between singular and plural verbs: Songbirds themselves care little for grammar. If you have any funny examples of agreement problems, or if you have a real toughie that needs the attention of a professional, please comment below! Plural: Neither the boy nor the girls are going to the game. We also use third-party cookies that help us analyze and understand how you use this website. 4. Your email address will not be published. 3. These cookies do not store any personal information. While simple sentences like “she turns her articles in early” and “they turn their articles in late” rarely cause a problem, more complex sentences can give even the most experienced writers a run for their money. Our staff is ready and willing to assist you, so visit our office or call us for an appointment today. With a 99% content approval rating, we are the best content creation service in the business. adroll_adv_id = "KRNULS3DQRHXVACWQTZIHM"; However, even educated adults fall victim to a similar error at one time or another. by Jean Little | Sep 11, 2020 | Writing Tips | 0 comments. Straight talking and methodical, "Smashing Grammar" (Our Grammar Book, 2019), Read more about using a singular or plural verb with, Read more about ending a long, compound subject with a comma, Ending a long, compound subject with a comma. Mass (or “non-count”) nouns are similar, since they take singular verbs despite referring to a mass substance (e.g., “milk” or “sand”): Here, it doesn’t matter how much we’re discussing (e.g., a small or large amount of souring milk), we always use the singular  form. In the present tense, subject–verb agreement requires using singular verbs with singular subjects and plural verbs with plural subjects. You can check the verb by substituting the pronoun they for the compound subject. Noted grammarian Bryan Garner explains, “If two or more subjects joined by and are different and separable, they take a plural verb… Neither lamps nor clocks are in the box. adroll_current_page = "other"; If a singular noun implies that there are multiple people, should the verb be singular or plural?! A singular subject looks like this: Mary likes watermelon. In American English, collective nouns (i.e., nouns that refer to a group of things) typically require a singular verb. Emergency room staff often has to take measures to ensure the safety of the patient. Get the latest news and updates from BKA. Subject–verb agreement becomes more complicated when using a compound subject. Do you disagree with something on this page. Your email address will not be published. Compound Subjects. Here’s an example of getting this wrong. adroll_version = "2.0"; Here are two good reasons with care about compound subjects. The verb should always agree with the written (not implied) subject(s). adroll_currency = "USD"; While errors with subject/verb agreement in spoken English may slip away seemingly without repercussion, they can be a huge problem in writing. "Or" does not create a plural like "and" does. Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. However, you can use a plural verb with a collective noun if the members of the group are acting as separate individuals: Acting Together: The team is playing to win! Read me! Out of these cookies, the cookies that are categorized as necessary are stored on your browser as they are essential for the working of basic functionalities of the website. "As well as" does not create a plural like "and" does. Hasty writers, speakers, readers, and listeners might miss the all-too-common mistake in the following sentence: Different and Separable Compound Subjects. Acting Separately: The team are arguing with each other. And since the rules do vary depending on how a sentence is constructed, it pays to be careful with subject–verb agreement! Required fields are marked *. For singular compound subjects joined by or or nor, use a singular verb. A clean driving licence, sales experience, and team spirit, Neither the University of Michigan nor its law school, Neither science, nor the politics in power, nor the mass media, nor business, nor the law, nor even the military, Neither this country nor our European friends, Leaving a list of Internet passwords, increasing your life insurance and writing a will. In the following, we’ll take a look at some of the basics. Compound Subjects Joined by "And" Whenever more than one subject is involved, it's important to maintain accurate subject-verb agreement. Here, we use the singular verb “is” to describe a team that is working together. adroll_pix_id = "MI5A3AMLEVCWLMSS7QK6YA"; It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website. When information separates a subject and verb, the agreement between them could be If we rephrased this so that the dog was part of a compound subject, we would use the plural verb “go” instead: The man and his dog go for a walk. Download Grammarly's app to help with eliminating grammar errors and finding the right words. Each one of these strategies has its own set of risk factors and possible rewards. Simply put, the subject and verb must agree in number. Or … This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. How To White Label SEO Content Writing Services. When two subjects are joined with the coordinating conjunction “and,” we always use a plural verb: However, when using “either/or” or “neither/nor,” whether to use a singular or plural verb depends on the noun nearest to it: Singular: Either the girls or the boy is going to the game. The president and her committee have made some questionable decisions this quarter. Here’s the rule: A compound subject with “and” gets a plural verb. The use of any illegal toxic products is strictly prohibited. I cringe every time my two-year-old son brings me a toy proclaiming that “it don’t work,” not only because he has broken yet another toy, but also because I have an irrational fear that he will never learn correct subject/verb agreement. subject verb disagreement when information separates them information Ex: Is the sentence correct? The group hosts a huge dance party every year. Here, we use the singular verb “goes” because the dog is part of a parenthetical clause (i.e., within commas), not part of the sentence subject. Remember: the verb should agree with the subject, rather than with the descriptive clause that has been inserted into the sentence. A lamp or clock is in the box. Sometimes collective nouns can be especially confusing. A plural subject looks like this: Mary and Mark like watermelon. “zone and others” is plural, so the verb should be plural: Here are the rules: (Rule 1) "And" creates a plural. It only takes a few extra seconds to make sure that your sentence “does work” from a grammatical standpoint. An important part of writing a grammatical sentence is making sure that the subject and verb in a sentence agree. (Photo: Georg_Wietschorke). The company compensates its employees very fairly. He and she make a great team. When writing and speaking in present tenses, the subjects and verbs in a sentence need to be in the same form, or, “agree” with each other, and that’s called subject-verb agreement (SVA).Subjects and verbs have single and plural forms, and it’s important not to mix them up. Examples: He and she make a great team. Compound subjects (two subjects in the same sentence) usually take a plural verb, unless the combination is treated as singular in popular usage or the two subjects refer to the same thing or person. A man trying to explain parenthetical statements to his dog. But when an additional person or thing is mentioned parenthetically, the verb should always agree with the subject of the main clause. Amanda or her best friend is the best soprano in the choir. These cookies will be stored in your browser only with your consent.


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