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  • Grammar Module 7

  • Subject-verb agreement

  • Most people with english as a first language

  • will intuitively select the correct verb agreement,

  • if they're able to accurately pinpoint the subject and the verb.

  • And that's really the key here,

  • selecting the correct subject and verb.

  • Most people find it easiest to find the verb first

  • and then to pick out the subject.

  • In the sentence 'the baby owl will be leaving the comfortable nest soon.'

  • The verb consists of several words,

  • which makes it a verb phrase.

  • 'Will be leaving' is the verb in this sentence.

  • It is then easy to tell who or what will be leaving.

  • Clearly, the owl will be leaving.

  • Owl is the simple subject in this sentence.

  • From now on we will refer to the simple subject.

  • That is, the subject without any adjectives as the subject.

  • One of the most common mistakes in selecting the correct subject of a sentence

  • One of the most common mistakes in selecting the correct subject of a sentence

  • is taking the noun in a prepositional phrase as the subject.

  • One of the light bulbs needs changing.

  • One of the light bulbs needs changing.

  • In this example there is a prepositional phrase between the subject and the verb.

  • It is important to ignore the prepositional phrase in order to select the correct subject.

  • It is important to ignore the prepositional phrase in order to select the correct subject.

  • If you do not remove the prepositional phrase 'of the light bulbs,'

  • you might accidentally use the verb 'need' to match the word lightbulbs,

  • you might accidentally use the verb 'need' to match the word lightbulbs,

  • instead of the true subject, which is 'one.'

  • In the second sentence shown,

  • Everyone except you and me has gone to the party.

  • The propositional phrase 'except you and me' is crossed off

  • in order to show the truth subject,

  • which is 'everyone.'

  • This requires the singular verb 'has.'

  • In addition to prepositions, other words can often appear between the subject and the verb

  • In addition to prepositions, other words can often appear between the subject and the verb

  • and can interfere with subject verb agreement.

  • The dresser, along with the two night tables, is for sale.

  • My neighbour, as well as one of my co-workers,

  • is interested in the furniture.

  • The highlighted words are known as intervening words.

  • These words can be thought of as an interruption to the original thought,

  • and the verb must agree with the subject of the original thought,

  • dresser and neighbour, not the interruption.

  • dresser and neighbour, not the interruption.

  • The verb is singular in both cases

  • to match the singular subjects: dresser and neighbour.

  • If the intervening words are not removed,

  • the writer might be tempted to incorrectly use the words 'night tables'

  • or 'co-workers' as the subject

  • or 'co-workers' as the subject

  • and then to use the plural verb, 'are,' instead of 'is.'

  • and then to use the plural verb, 'are,' instead of 'is.'

  • Other common intervening words to look for include in addition to,

  • such as,

  • together with,

  • or including.

  • These are often set apart from the rest of the sentence by a pair of commas,

  • such as in the two examples shown,

  • but this is not always true.

  • When you have a sentence with two subjects joined by the word 'and,'

  • you have what's known as a compound subject.

  • Compound subjects require a plural verb,

  • even if both of the subjects are singular.

  • Running and swimming are my favourite activities.

  • Running and swimming

  • Running and swimming

  • are the subjects of the sentence that are joined together by the word 'and.'

  • And therefore require the plural verb 'are,'

  • as opposed to the singular verb 'is.'

  • as opposed to the singular verb 'is.'

  • Although this rule looks simple enough off hand,

  • note that there are a few things to watch for:

  • When a company name has multiple nouns and the word 'and,'

  • it is still one company

  • and is therefore not a compound subject.

  • In the example shown,

  • Peterson, Peterson and Stanley Incorporated

  • is a company I would not like to work for.

  • There's only one company and not multiple subjects.

  • So the singular verb 'is,' is used,

  • as opposed to the plural verb 'are.'

  • When the word each,

  • or every appears with the nouns that are separated by 'and,'

  • then the noun is still considered singular.

  • Every second,

  • minute, and hour

  • feels like an eternity when one is separated from his beloved.

  • In the example shown here,

  • there are multiple subjects that are separated by the word 'and.'

  • You will recall that the usual solution for compound subjects separated by 'and' is to use a plural verb.

  • You will recall that the usual solution for compound subjects separated by 'and' is to use a plural verb.

  • However,

  • when the word each or every is used, each subject is thought of individually.

  • Every second feels like an eternity.

  • Every minute feels like an eternity.

  • And every hour feels like an eternity.

  • Be cautious when you see a sentence with a verb that appears before the subject.

  • This situation is referred to as inverted order.

  • Remember that the words here and their can never be the subject of a sentence.

  • Here is the scariest ride in the park.

  • When you see a sentence that starts with these words,

  • the verb is usually shown in inverted order with the verb before the subject.

  • The key is to revert the sentence back to the normal order of subject and then verb,

  • The key is to revert the sentence back to the normal order of subject and then verb,

  • as shown in the sentence:

  • The scariest ride in the park is here.

  • In this case, the phrase 'in the park'

  • In this case, the phrase 'in the park'

  • is also removed to reveal that the word 'ride' is the true subject.

  • As another example:

  • 'On my list of things to try is skydiving,'

  • can be reversed to read

  • 'Skydiving is on my list of things to try.'

  • To identify the subject, 'skydiving,'

  • To identify the subject, 'skydiving,'

  • and the verb, 'is.'

  • and the verb, 'is.'

  • A final type of inverted order sentence is the question.

  • Notice that the verb in the question,

  • 'Is one of the rides broken?'

  • actually starts the sentence.

  • In this case the sentence is reverted to normal order.

  • One of the rides is broken.

  • With the subject before the verb

  • and once again the prepositional phrase, 'of the rides,'

  • beginning with the preposition 'of' is removed

  • and it is revealed that 'one' is the true subject of the sentence and therefore

  • requires the singular verb 'is.'

  • requires the singular verb 'is.'

  • We discussed how to make the verb agree with the compound subjects of the

  • sentence joined by the verb 'and.'

  • Now we will look at a compound subject that is joined together by the word or or nor.

  • Now we will look at a compound subject that is joined together by the word or or nor.

  • When a compound subject is joined by or or nor, you make the verb agree with the

  • subject that is near the verb.

  • The examples shown here are almost the same,

  • accept that the subject order is reversed.

  • Either rabbits or my dog is destroying my garden.

  • Either my dog or rabbits are destroying my garden.

  • When the subject 'dog' is closer to the verb,

  • such as in the first sentence,

  • the verb must agree with the singular subject of 'dog.'

  • But in the second example,

  • with the subjects reversed,

  • the verb must agree with the plural subject of 'rabbits.'

  • Look at the words shown in this table:

  • These are all called indefinite pronouns.

  • Singular indefinite pronouns include each,

  • nobody, something, everyone, either,

  • or neither.

  • Plural indefinite pronouns include both and many.

  • Plural indefinite pronouns include both and many.

  • Indefinite pronouns that could be singular or plural include none, some,

  • more and most.

  • more and most.

  • Words like another, many and most

  • can all be used in a sentence as indefinite pronouns.

  • The problem with indefinite pronouns is that they can make the verb behave in different ways.

  • The problem with indefinite pronouns is that they can make the verb behave in different ways.

  • Some indefinite pronouns are always singular, such as each and nobody.

  • And would therefore require a singular verb.

  • Nobody likes rice pudding.

  • Others, like both and many, are always plural

  • and require a plural noun.

  • Many like chocolate sundaes.

  • Many like chocolate sundaes.

  • Much more tricky, however, are the indefinite pronouns that can be either

  • singular or plural, such as none, some,

  • more,

  • and most.

  • When you have one of these indefinite pronouns that can be either plural or

  • singular, depending on the context of your sentence,

  • then you must consider the prepositional phrase to determine subject-verb agreement.

  • then you must consider the prepositional phrase to determine subject-verb agreement.

  • In the first example: All of the cupcakes have been eaten.

  • Using the indefinite pronoun 'all,'

  • you will notice that the noun 'cupcakes' in the prepositional phrase is plural

  • and therefore the plural verb 'have'

  • is used, as opposed to the singular verb 'has.'

  • However,

  • the exact same indefinite pronoun 'all' is used with a singular verb 'is' in the second sentence.

  • the exact same indefinite pronoun 'all' is used with a singular verb 'is' in the second sentence:

  • All of the cake is gone too.

  • Because the noun 'cake' in the prepositional phrase is singular.

  • Because the noun 'cake' in the prepositional phrase is singular.

  • Indefinite pronouns that can be singular or plural

  • such as none,

  • some,

  • more,

  • most,

  • and all,

  • should always be carefully considered.

  • Let's end by talking about collective nouns.

  • A collective noun names a group of people or things.

  • Some examples include audience,

  • committee,

  • family,

  • and team.

  • Whether you use a singular or plural noun depends on whether the group is acting as a unit,

  • Whether you use a singular or plural noun depends on whether the group is acting as a unit,

  • or if the members of the group are acting individually in the group.

  • In the first example shown:

  • My family has many different pets.

  • The family is acting as a single unit,

  • and so a singular verb is required.

  • My family are coming to my wedding from various parts of the world.

  • In the second example shown,

  • the family members are acting separately and traveling from different places.

  • And this sentence requires a plural verb.

  • It is often easiest to include the word 'members'

  • if the group members are acting separately,

  • as the word 'members' makes it very easy and clear to remember that a plural verb is required.

  • as the word 'members' makes it very easy and clear to remember that a plural verb is required.

  • My family 'members' are coming to my wedding from various parts of the world.

  • My family 'members' are coming to my wedding from various parts of the world.

Grammar Module 7

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B1 AU subject singular plural sentence indefinite prepositional phrase

Grammar Module 7: Subject-Verb Agreement

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    Hebe Ya posted on 2015/05/28
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