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Subject Verb Agreement in English Grammar

Updated on February 5, 2019

Rule 1

Error of Proximity:

A verb must agree with its subject in number and person, it is known as "Error of Proximity".

  • The quality of apples was good.

Here singular verb is "quality" so we should use singular verb "was" not 'were'.

  • Ahmad`s knowledge of books is awesome.

We should use singular verb "is" because "Ahmad`s knowledge" is singular.

  • People of Pakistan are working hard for their survival.

Use plural verb "are" because "people" is a plural noun.

Rule 2:

When two or more singular nouns or pronouns joined by "and", we should use a plural verb.

  1. Ali and Alana are good friends.
  2. The husband and his wife are going to London for their honey moon.
  3. The hero and heroine were shooting in Paris.
  4. Pakistan and India are two rival countries.
  5. Fire and water neutralize each other effects.
  6. My father and I are going to America for business dealings.

In the above sentences 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 plural verbs include: " are, are, were, are, neutralize and are".

NOTE: The verb should be singular If the nouns suggest one idea in mind or refer to same person or thing.

  1. The singer and dancer is coming to concert.
  2. Bread and butter is only his diet.
  3. The horse and carriage is now ready to go.
  4. The director and producer is now appearing the scene.

Rule 3:

The verb will be according to the first subject if two subjects are joined by words like; with, as well as, in addition to etc.,

  1. The palace, with its contents, was insured two year before.
  2. Teachers, as well as students, are going to university.
  3. Platinum, as well as gold, has risen in price.
  4. John, in addition to the work of university, is doing his job.

Rule 4:

The verb will be according to the second noun if the two nouns are joined by 'or' or 'nor';

  1. Our happiness or our sorrow is mainly due to our own actions and deeds.
  2. Neither his wealth nor his friends are useful for him after his death.
  3. Neither the anchor nor the guest are present in the studio.

Rule 5:

If the sentence is began with the words like many a, neither, each, everyone etc, always use the singular verb.

  1. Everyone of the boys loves to ride a fancy or sport car.
  2. Neither of the two fighters was strong enough to beat him.
  3. Each of the students has tried their level best in exam.
  4. Many a soldier has met his death on the battle field while fighting for his country.
  5. Either of the girls is allowed to go outside for playing table tennis.
  6. Each of the students is supposed to participate in the class.

Rule 6:

If two nouns are join by "and" but are qualified by each and every require singular noun;

  1. Ever soldier and police was praised for his performance.
  2. Each teacher and student has a work to do.

Subject Verb Agreement Rules

Rule 7:

There are many nouns which are plural in form but singular in meaning, take singular verb.

  1. The news is false about the murderer.
  2. Mathematics is one of the most important subjects which has many application in our daily life.
  3. Physics is my favorite subject.

Rule 8;

If we have an unfulfilled condition which contains words like if, as if, as though, even if or wish , always use plural verb.

  1. Katherine behaves as if she were(not was) my boss.
  2. I help needy people if I were(not was) a king.

Rule 9:

"A number of" in a sentence takes plural verb while "the number of" takes singular verb.

  1. A number of lawyers are absent in the court.
  2. The number of diseases is rising day by day.
  3. The number of absentees is falling this year.

Rule 10:

When a plural noun denotes some specific quantity or amount considered as a whole, the verb generally used is singular.

  1. Twenty five minutes is allowed to each presenters.
  2. Fifty thousand rupees is a large sum.
  3. Three parts of business is left for me to deal with.
  4. Ten kilometer is a long walk to run.


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