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SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT

Important Rule: The most important rule of thumb in English language is that a singular subject only takes a singular verb and plural subject only takes a plural verb.

Ex: If you would like to use the word sing/sings with he/they, how do you know which one is correct ?

He sings (is correct because he is singular and sings is also singular)

They sing (is correct as athey is plural and sing is also plural)

Here are some special rules you need to follow when using the English language:

Rule No 1 : Two singular subjects which are joined by or or nor require a singular verb.

Ex: My sister or my brother is arriving by bus tonight.

Rule No 2 : Two singular subjects joined by either/or or neither/nor need a singular verb:

Ex: Either Ramya or Deepti helps today with interior decorations.

Rule No. 3 : When a singular and plural subject are joined by either/or or neither/nor, you need to put the plural subject last and use a plural verb.

Ex: Neither Vinay nor the others are here.

Rule No. 4 : When you use I in one of your two subjects, you need to put it as your second subject and follow it with the singular verb am.

Ex: Neither he nor I am going to the carnival.

Rule No. 5 : When a singular subject is joined by or or nor to a plural subject, you need to put the plural subject last and use a plural verb.

Ex: The book or the CDs are on the shelf.

Rule No. 6 : A plural verb must be used when two or more subjects are connected by and.

Ex: A car and a bike are my means of transportation.

Rule No. 7 : Words mentioned below take a singular verb:

Everybody, Anybody, Somebody, Nobody, Each

Everyone, Anyone, Someone, No one, Either

Everything, Anything, Something, Nothing, Neither

Ex: Everybody knows the answer.

Nobody cares about her.

Something is burning here.

Rule No. 8 : When every and each come before a singular subject joined by and, the verb is singular.

Ex: Every man and woman has the right to speak.

Each student and teacher was aware of the difficulty.

Rule No. 9 : Several, many, both, few are plural words and take a plural verb.

Ex: Both are happy with the clothes they got.

Many were killed on the way.

Few have done their assignments.

Rule No. 10 : With words that indicate portions— percent, fraction, part, majority, some, all, none, remainder, etc.— the noun in your of phrase (object of the preposition) determines whether to use a singular or plural verb. If the object of the preposition is singular, use a singular verb. If the object of the preposition is plural, use a plural verb.

Ex: Fifty percent of the chocolate has disappeared.
Chocolate is the object of the preposition of.

Fifty percent of the chocolates have disappeared.
Chocolates
is the object of the preposition.

One-third of the city is unemployed. One-third of the people are unemployed.

Rule No. 11: Expressions stating amount of time, money, weight, volume are plural in form but take a singular verb.

Ex: Five years is the maximum sentence for that offense.

Ten dollars is a high price to pay.

Rule No. 12 : Some nouns like Mathematics, Physics, News, Ethics, Measles, Politics, Statistics seem to be plural, but they are singular and so take singular verbs.

Ex: The news these days is always boring.

Measles is a dreadly disease.

Rule No. 13 : Generic Refrences with 'the' require plural verb.

Ex: The poor are not always unhappy.

The young have a lot of energy.

The old are orthodox.

Rule No. 14 : Some nouns are always plural and always take a plural verb.

    (Trousers, pants, slacks, shorts, briefs, jeans, glasses, sunglasses, scissors, pliers, tweezers)

Ex:My jeans are old.

This year shorts are in fashion.

Where are my scissors?

Rule No. 15 : Some nouns have the same singular and plural form. They take singular or plural verb depending on the meaning.

Ex:This species of monkeys lives only in India.

There are many species of monkeys. 

Some nouns in this group are: Species, series, deer, fish, sheep,

Rule No. 16 : Sometimes the pronoun who, that, or which is the subject of the verb in the middle of the sentence. The pronouns who, that, and which become singular or plural according to the noun directly in front of them. So if that noun is singular, use a singular verb. If it is plural, use a plural verb.

Ex: Deepa is an actor who has her own style.
The word in front of who is actor, which is singular. Therefore, use the singular verb has.

She is one of the women who do the craft work.
The word in front of who is women, which is plural. Therefore, use the plural verb do.

Rule No. 17 : In sentences beginning with here or there, the subject follows the verb.

Ex: There is a tree in the garden.

There goes the cat.

(Taken from : http://www.buowl.boun.edu and http://www.grammarbook.com )