Manners & Misdemeanors
7 Subject-Verb Agreement Rules Many People Forget
There are a few special cases that confuse even the most thorough of grammar geeks.

1. Singular indefinite pronouns take singular verbs, and plural indefinite pronouns take plural verbs.

When singular indefinite pronouns such as anyone, everyone, each, neither, none, or everything are used as subjects in a sentence, they also demand singular verbs and follow the same grammar rules as a singular noun. Meanwhile, plural indefinite pronouns (several, some, few, many, both) require plural verbs.

2. The verbs for collective nouns should be assessed within context.

The collective noun, the crew, is taken as a single subject because although it might still be a body of people, the group acts as one.

In this case, a plural verb was used because the cast's members were acting individually instead of as a collective body.


3. Take note of some plural subjects that require singular verbs.

There are words that might seem plural but are taken as singular. Examples of these words are news, pair of pants, pair of scissors, physics, among others.


4. Take articles and other signifiers into consideration.

A single word in the subject may change a subject from singular to plural. In the case above, if the sentence read “The number of turtle eggs grows this year,” it would still be correct since the article the makes “number” a singular subject, while the correct statement above uses a plural verb because the article a signifies an indefinite number.


5. In dealing with compound subjects, look at the conjunction they are joined with to determine the use of singular or plural verbs.

In the case above, compound subject joined by and are plural and must use a plural verb.

If a compound subject is joined by or or nor, then the verb will take cues from the subject closest to it. Above, it was the word “hosts” that dictated the use of “were.”

6. In confusing cases where the subject is separated from the verb, identify both words first and make sure they agree.

In the example given above, the word Italy could easily be mistaken as the subject, but it’s really the word residents. Ignore the words in-between.


7. Titles of books, plays, musicals, poems, movies, and other literary works are always singular.


Even if the title of the work is a plural subject or contains plural elements, the verb is always singular if you are only referring to one work.

About The Author
Hannah Lazatin
View Other Articles From Hannah Lazatin
Latest Stories
All this tiptoeing around words and what pleases you just sucks the joy out of life.
Fingers crossed we get to see the little princess in a tutu sometime soon.
Plus the mistakes guests like Victoria Beckham made in the past.
The new owners say they are committed to preserving the property and "don’t even want it to look like a new paint job was done."
The 12-room home includes an Eloise-inspired room hand-painted by Hilary Knight.
Versace is joining brands like Gucci and Calvin Klein in their compassionate pursuit.
A new study by CatchOn shows millennials are interested in Instagram-ready plating and ingredients’ provenance, among others.
His spring collection will solve all your wedding party dress dilemmas.
These illegitimate royals overcame the circumstances of their birth and went on to become some of the most influential people in history.
There are 3 types of pink stones you need to know about.
Load More Articles