Subject | Verb Agreement Check-Up
Self Assessment | Answers | Rules
 
  • Identify the subject and choose the correct verb in each of the following sentence. 
  • Check your answers with the answer key linked on the toolbar. 
  • Discuss your errors with a CWC Tutor to check your understanding of your error patterns.
  • Review the rules that guide subject / verb agreement.
Self-Assessment Quiz

1.  Each of the men (were/was) given ten minutes to speak to the president of the company.

2.  Beyond the river (is/are) a dress store and a shoe store.

3.  Here (is/are) your notebook and dictionary.

4.  Neither of the corporations (has/have) received the necessary state charter yet.

5.  My entire supply of checks (was/were) missing.

6.  Physics (is/are) taken by many students to complete their science requirement.

7.  a natural monopoly (is/are) public utilities.

8.  Neither of the unions (has/have) studied the working conditions yet.

9.  sitting in the chair by the file cabinets (is/are) the secretary.

10.  the data (was/were) published by the company.

11.  The cost of goods (vary/varies) greatly in the different states.

12.  Where (is/are) one of the letters from Brown and Company?

13.  Neither of the salesmen (wants/want) to help me.

14.  One of the trade marks (has/have) not been registered yet.

15.  Five percent of the profits (is/are) to be distributed to the stockholders.

16.  Food tests taken on Friday (confirm/confirms) my original diagnosis.

17.  Neither the employers nor the union (desire/desires) a strike vote.

18.  Neither the size nor the color of the envelopes (are/is) correct.

19.  Each of the loans (has/have) been recalled by the bank.

20.  The news of the economic decline (has/have) been upsetting.

21.  Everyone who bought stocks last year (has/have) hoped to see an increase in their value.

22. The Seattle Times (is/are) sold widely.

23.  Neither the rain nor the dropping temperatures (suggest/suggests) good weather over the weekend.

24.  One of the children who (play/plays) soccer so very well is sitting on the sidelines.

25.  The team (have/has) turned in their uniforms for the season.
 

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Answer Key - Individual Subject-Verb Activity

Note:  Subjects are in green and bolded; and the verbs are blue.
 
1.   Each of the men (was) given ten minutes to speak to the president of the company.

2.   Beyond the river
(are) a dress store and a shoe store.

3.   Here (are) your notebook and dictionary.

4.   Neither of the corporations (has) received the necessary state charter yet.

5.   My entire supply of checks (was) missing.

6.   Physics (is) taken by many students to complete their science requirement.

7.   A natural monopoly (is) public utilities.

8.   Neither of the unions (has) studied the working conditions yet.

9.   Sitting in the chair by the file cabinets (is) the secretary.

10.  The data (were) published by the company.

11.  The cost of goods (varies) greatly in the different states.

12.  Where (is) one of the letters from Brown and Company?

13.  None of the salesmen (want) to help me.

14.  One of the trade marks (has) not been registered yet.

15.  Five percent of the profits (is) to be distributed to the stockholders.

16.  Food tests taken on Friday (confirm) my original diagnosis.

17.  Neither the employers nor the union (desires) a strike vote.

18.  Neither the size nor the color of the envelopes (is) correct.

19.  Each of the loans (has) been recalled by the bank.

20.  The news of the economic decline (has) been upsetting.

21.  Everyone who bought stocks last year (has) hoped to see an increase in their value.

22. The
Seattle Times (is) sold widely.

23.  Neither the rain nor the dropping temperatures (suggest) good weather over the weekend.

24.  One of the children who (play) soccer so very well is sitting on the sidelines.

25.  The
team (have) turned in their uniforms for the season.

 

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Rules that Govern Subject/Verb Agreement
 
When we use the term agreement, we mean that a subject and its verb agree as to their "number."  Number refers to whether a subject and verb are singular or plural.  Singular means that a subject's or a verb's number is one.  Plural means a subject or verb's number is more than one.
 
A single rule governs the agreement of subjects and verbs:  A singular subject takes a singular verb; and a plural verb takes a plural verb. 

The confusion arises when one fails to accurately identify the subject and/or when its number is determined by additional rules.  Consequently, some additional patterns need to be recognized in order to choose the correct verb.

 

Patterns 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

 S-V Pattern 1 Indefinite pronouns must be correctly identified as singular or plural: 
 

Singular Indefinite Pronouns: 
 

each, either, one, everyone, everybody, no one, nobody, anyone, someone, neither, and somebody.

Indefinite Example:  Everyone is attending the concert.
 

Plural Indefinite Pronouns: 
 

both, few, many, others, and several

Plural Indefinite Pronoun:  A few have attended the concert.
 


Variable Indefinite Pronouns:  [sometimes singular and sometimes plural depending on what follows them in a prepositional phrase]: 
 

some, most, all, none, any

EX:  All of the students were present.  [All is plural because students is plural.]  All of the problem was of my own making.  [All is singular because problem is singular.]

Variable Indefinite (plural) Example:  Some of the students are attending the concert.

Variable Indefinite (singular) Example:  Some of the assignment is due today.
 

 

S-V Pattern 2 A sentence can be inverted, placing the subject at the end.  This positioning may cause confusion about which word is the subject.  [Note subject and correct verb are in colored text.]

Example:  There are / is four concerts this season.
Example:  Under the desk is /are the lost ball.

S-V  Pattern 3 Neither/nor and either/or patterns require that the writer choose a verb to match the number of the subject following the nor or the or.  [Note subject and correct verb are in colored text.]

Example:  Neither the teacher nor the students are / is present today.
Example:  Neither the students nor the teacher is / are present today.

 

S-V Pattern 4 A series of singular subjects requires a plural verb choice.  [Note subject and correct verb are in colored text.]

Example:  Bananas, oranges, and apples are / is required in the recipe.
Example:  A cup and a spoon were set / was set on the table.

S-V Pattern 5 Fractions or percentages as subjects require the noun in the prepositional phrase following them to determine the verb number.  [Note subject and correct verb are in colored text.]

Example:  Five percent of the students pass / passes the first mastery test.
Example:  Five percent of the situation is / are Bob's fault.

S-V Pattern 6:  Phrases separating the subject and verb may cause confusion about whether the subject is plural or singular.  They need to be disregarded when choosing the verb.  [Note subject and correct verb are in colored text.]

Example:  The teacher, along with her students, is going/ are going  to the concert.

 S-V Pattern 7 Some subjects, while in plural form, function as singular.

Example:  Measles is a contagious disease.
Example:
  The New York Times is a popular newspaper

S-V Pattern 8 When the verb is chosen for a indefinite pronoun in a dependent relative clause, it must match the pronoun's referent (that is, the word it refers to in the sentence).

Example:  She is one of the secretaries who want to learn new technologies.

S-V Pattern 9:  Nouns express quantities of amount--time, money, weight, length, etc.--require singular verbs when thought of as a unit.

Example:  Twenty-four years is a long time to work at a single job.

S-V Pattern 10 Collective nouns--faculty, staff, band, committee, Congress, flock, herd, team, jury, audience, etc.--can be viewed as singular or plural depending on the meaning expressed.

Example:  The band is playing its music.
Example:  The band are wearing their new uniforms.

 

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McS | Spring 2002 | Update Fall 2002