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Agreement of the Verb with the Subject

A verb must agree with its subject in number and person. The problem arises when the verb is wrongly matched with the noun near it instead of with its proper subject.

Rule 1

When two subjects are joined by as well as or with, the verb should be matched with the first subject.

For Example :

Incorrect :         The teacher with his students are busy
Correct   :         The teacher with his students is busy

Incorrect :         He as well as I am in the wrong
Correct  :          He as well as I is in the wrong

Rule 2

When two subjects are joined by Neither - nor or Either - or, the verb should be matched with the second subject.

For Example :

Incorrect :         Neither he nor I is in the wrong.
Correct   :         Neither he nor I am in the wrong

Incorrect :         Either you or he are guilty
Correct  :          Either you or he is guilty

Note : When one of the subjects joined by Either - or or Neither - nor is in the plural, the verb should be in the plural, and the plural subject should be placed near the verb.

Incorrect :         Neither the teacher nor the students is busy
Correct  :          Neither the teacher not the students are busy

Incorrect :         Either Ram or his friends is guilty
Correct  :          Either Ram or his friends are guilty.

Rule 3

When two subject are joined by and, the verb should be in the plural.

For Example :

Incorrect :         He and I is good friends
Correct   :         He and I are good friends

 Note : However, if two nouns constitute one idea or are used as one phrase, the verb should be in the singular.

Incorrect :        Bread and butter are his favourite food
Correct  :         Bread and butter is his favourite food

Incorrect :        The teacher and guide are dead
Correct  :         The teacher and guide is dead

 Note : Sometimes, the use of the article in such sentences also determines the verb

For Example :

Incorrect :       The teacher and the guide is dead
correct  :         The teacher and the guide are dead

Rule 4

Either, Neither, Each, Everyone, Many a take singular verb.

For Example :

Incorrect :         Either of the students are guilty
Correct :           Either of the students is guilty

Incorrect :         Each of the students have been well provided
Correct  :          Each of the students has been well provided

Incorrect :         May a politician have been found to be corrupt
Correct  :          Many a politician has been found to be corrupt

Incorrect :         Everyone of the politicians are guilty
Correct   :         Everyone of the politicians is guilty

Rule 5

Nouns qualified by each or every even when joined by and take a singular verb

For Example :

Incorrect :         Each boy and girl were given separate seat
Correct   :         Each boy and girl was given a separate seat

Incorrect :         Every boy and girl were offered hospitality
Correct  :          Every boy and girl was offered hospitality

Rule 6

Collective nouns like Jury, Army, Committee, Assembly etc. take a singular verb when they subscribe to one view. If they express divergent views, the verb should be used in the plural.

For Example :

Incorrect :         The Jury are unanimous in their judgment
Correct  :          The Jury is unanimous in its judgment

Incorrect :         The jury is divided in its judgment
Correct  :          The jury are divided in their judgment

Incorrect :         The assembly has disagreed on the question of discipline
Correct  :          The assembly have disagreed on the question of discipline

Rule 7

Some nouns like mathematics, politics, news, innings, wages, summons, advice, scenery, furniture, machinery, poetry, information, vacation etc take a singular verb.

For Example :

Incorrect :         Mathematics are a difficult subject.
Correct  :          Mathematics is a difficult subject.

Incorrect :         Politics are his bread and butter.
Correct  :          Politics is his bread and butter.

Incorrect :         New machinery for the factory have arrived.
Correct  :          New machinery for the factory has arrived.

Incorrect :         We have just returned after long vacations.
Correct  :          We have just returned after a long vacation.

Rule 8

Some nouns like scissors, trousers, measles, spectacles, tongs, riches etc take a plural verb.

For Example :

Incorrect :         The scissors is blunt.
Correct  :          The scissors are blunt.

Incorrect :         My spectacles has been stolen.
Correct  :          My spectacles have been stolen.

Incorrect :         Your trousers is torn.
Correct  :          Your trousers are torn.

Rule 9

Some collective nouns like cattle, poultry, gentry, vermin take a plural verb.

For Example :

Incorrect :         The cattle is grazing.
Correct  :          The cattle are grazing.

Incorrect :         The gentry is absent.
Correct  :          The gentry are absent.

Note People can be used both as singular and plural For example

(I) The Indians are supposed to be emotional people

(II) Peoples of different races and religions live in India.

Rule 10

Some nouns like sheep, deer, salmon, swine etc retain the same form in the singular and the plural.

For Example :

The sheep is grazing (singular)

The sheep are grazing (plural)

Rule 11

When a plural noun refers to a specific quantity or amount considered as a whole, it generally takes a singular verb, dozen, score, hundred (when preceded by numerals) : a five rupee note.

For Example :

Incorrect :         Five hundred miles are a long distance.
Correct  :          Five hundred miles is a long distance.

Incorrect :         I purchased two dozens mangoes.
Correct   :         I purchased two dozen mangoes.

Rule 12

When a plural noun is a proper noun referring to a single entity, it takes a singular verb.

For Example :

Incorrect :         The United States of America act like a bully.
Correct  :          The United States of America acts like a bully.

Incorrect :         'The three Musketeers' were written by A. Dumas.
Correct  :          'The Three Musketeers' was written by A. Dumas. 

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