My subjects and verbs disagree!

It is a painful truth the fact that I end having the same mistakes again and again. Today is the day my subjects and verbs will become friends once and for all. Sounds sensible that subjects and verbs must agree in number and in person, but the rule is not always that clear. At least not for a English learner! Does this happen to you too?

Clearly, I would love to say to you that there are shortcuts and easy ways, but if you have been studying English for a while you will know by now that this requires plenty of attention and dedication. There is not an appealing or sexy way to review the grammar but the more simple and clear the better.

Compound subjects:

  1. When 2 subjects are joined by “and” the verb will be plural in most situations. *exception: when the joined subjects are preceded by “every”, “no”, or “nothing”.
  2. If the subjects are joined by “nor” or “or”, the verb agrees with the closer subject (the last one)

Let’s create some examples!

  • Tom and Alice are moving to London next month. (plural)
  • *Exception: Every dog and cat deserves the best. (singular)
  • Neither Sarah nor Peter was to blame for the mistake. (singular)

Indefinite pronouns

  1. Single indefinite pronoun: e.g., anyone, anybody, each, either, non (singular)
  2. Plural indefinite pronoun:e.g., both, few, many, several (plural)
  3. All, any, most and some (either singular o plural)

Let’s create some examples!

  • Each of my colleges arrives at the same time every day. (singular)
  • If anyone wants things to continue like this…(singular)
  • If anybody thinks Donald Trump wrote those tweets then they haven’t been paying attention over the last couple years. (singular)
  • Both of my friends believe we should study more. (plural)

Collective nouns: singular in form but plural in meaning

Band, minority, class, majority, community, dozen, family, public, team…

  1. When they act as one entity (singular)
  2. When they do separate things (plural)

Let’s create some examples!

  • The majority of English majors reads the newspaper every morning. (singular)
  • The team / The members of the team are looking for a venue, sending invitations and making food arrangements. (plural)

Plural nouns that are singular in meaning

Athletics, economics, politics, news, mumps, and measles.

Let’s create some examples!

  • Politics is an issue in the UK with the Brexit. (singular)

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