A verb must agree with its Subject in Number and Person, i.e., the Verb should be of the same Number and Person as the Subject.
Two or more Singular Subjects joined by and take a Plural Verb; as, Mohan and Sohan have passed.
He and his brother were absent.
He and I are great friends.
Time and tide wait for no one.
- Sometimes two Subjects are regarded as representing one idea, and then die Verb is singular, as,
Slow and steady wins the race.
Bread and butter is a wholesome food.
‘Early to bed and early to rise,
Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.’
- If two Singular Nouns refef to the same person or thing, the Verb must be Singular; as,
The poet and philosopher is dead. [Here ‘poet’ and ‘philosopher’ refer to the same person.]
The orator and statesman has arrived.
NOTE: If the Article is used only once, then the two Nouns refer to the same person and the Verb used is Singular. But if the Article is mentioned twice, then two distinct persons are intended, and the Verb following must be in the Plural Number, as,
The poet and the philosopher are dead.
The orator and the statesman have arrived.
If two Singular Nouns joined by and are preceded by each or every the Verb is Singular, as,
Each day and each hour brings us a fresh anxiety.
Every man and every woman in the village was terrified.
Two or more Singular Subjects connected by or, nor, either … or, neither … nor, take a Singular Verb, as,
Either Mohan or Sohan is in the wrong.
Neither Rama nor his brother was present there.
Neither iron nor coal is to be found in that country.
Neither praise nor blame seems to affect her.
Neither he nor I was mistaken.
Any boy or girl sees it at once.
- When one of the Nouns or Pronouns joined by or, nor is in the Singular and the other in the Plural, the Verb should be Plural and the Plural Subject should be placed near the Verb; as,
John or his brothers are to blame.
Neither Afzal nor his friends were present.
- If two Subjects joined by or, nor are of different persons, the ,
Verb agrees’ in person with the Subject nearest to it; as,
Either you or he is telling a lie.
Neither my brother nor I am happy.
But it is better to write as —
Either you are telling a lie, or he is.
Neither is my brother happy, nor am I.
If two Norms are joined by with or as well as, the Verb agrees with the
first Noun, i.e., if the first Noun is Singular, the Verb must be Singular even if the second Noun is Plural; as,
Raman, as well as his friend, has won the prize.
Iron as well as gold is found in India.
Kindness as well as mercy allows it.
The king, with all his ministers, was killed.
A collective Noun takes a Singular or Plural Verb according to the sense. If the idea of oneness is expressed, the Verb must be, Singular, if the individuals of the collection are thought of, the Verb must be Plural.
The jury [= men of the jury] were divided in their opinions.
The jury [=one body] has elected its President.
The Council meets today in the Town Hall.
The Council that met in the Town Hall were divided.
The multitude was frightened at the sight of the lion.
- Either, neither, each, every, one, may, a must be followed by a Verb in the Singular; as,
Either of the two applicants is suitable.
Neither of the two applicants is suitable.
Each of these boys has done his best.
Each of these substances is found in India.
Each one of these men is reliable.
Everyone of the boat’s crew was downed.
Many a man is tempted by gold.
Errors due to Proximity: Often the Verb is made to agree in Number with a Noun near it instead of its proper Subject. This should be avoided.
- The behaviour of the children were [Here were must be was in order to agree with behaviour ]
- Not one of his lectures have ever been printed. [The Subject is one, not lectures’, therefore, have should be ]
- By that time two weeks salary were [Here again, the Subject is salary, not weeks; therefore, were should be was.]
- The quality of the mangoes was (not were) good.
- The cost of all these articles has (not have)
- A series of lectures has (not have) been arranged on the subject.
- A variety of pleasing objects charms (not charm) the eye.
When a Plural Noun denotes some specific quantity or amount considered as a whole the Verb is generally Singular, as,
Two-thirds of the city is in ruins (not are).
A thousand rupees is a good sum (not are).
Four weeks is a good holiday (not are).
Similarly with titles of books and names of sciences :
The Arabian Nights is an interesting book (not are).
The United States has a big army (not have).
Physics is an interesting science (not are).
Mathematics is a difficult subject (not are).
- A Relative Pronoun always agrees itf Number and Person with its Antecedent; as,
I am a man who always seeks (not seek) others’ welfare.
He is one of those men who know (not knows) everything.
Exercise 1: Correct the following’sentences : .
- The General as well as his staff were there.
- Plucking flowers are forbidden.
- Neither John nor James were present in me school yesterday.
- The secretary and treasurer take a walk every morning.
- The scholar and the poet is dead. .
- John as well as Tom are waiting for you.
- Mohan with his friends were caught. .
- Every boy and every teacher have their own books.
- The study of Mathematics required brains.
- Everyone of the men were punished.
- Each boy and each girl were given a prize.
- Neither of these questions appear difficult.
- It is one of the best pictures that has ever been painted.
- Lamb’s Tales are an interesting book.
- Game after game were played. I
- Bread and butter are his favourite food.
- Patience as well as perseverance are necessary for success.
- Neither Mohan nor Afzal have come.
- I am a man who always help my friends in need.
- The behaviour of the boys and girls were highly objectionable.
Exercise 2. Select the correct form of the verb shown in brackets in each sentence and write it in the space opposite :