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Concord…. The right combination of subject and verb

Siddu: Hai! Nitesh. How are you?
Niesh: Hai! I’m doing well. I heard you
have been to a course to improve
your language skills. How is it?
Siddu: I’m improving slowly. I has been trying to speak in English.
Niesh :Ah… a slight correction. It is not’ I has been….’,
but ‘I have been….’
Siddu: No, My teacher told that I have to use ‘has’ with singular number subject. ‘I’ the pronoun is singular.
Niesh: But, pronoun ‘I’ always takes plural verb like ‘I do…’, ‘I have…’, ‘I
Like…’ so on.
Siddu: Then I need to learn not only the language rules but also the exceptions. Thank you. I will learn a few more usages when we meet. I will keep in touch.
  • There should be an agreement between subject and verb
    He is…… (v)
    They are………. (v)
    He are….. (X)
    They is………..(X)
    In simple if the subject is in singular number, verb too should be in singular. Some times it is difficult to identify the number of the subject.
    For example in the sentence
    Walking on the grass is prohibited, if asked to identify the subject usually the answer will be either ‘grass’ or ‘walking’ rather ‘walking on the grass’.
  • Usually the conjunction ‘and’ takes a plural verb. Though ‘and’ combines different nouns if they convey a single idea, the subject is said to be in singular number.
    • Bread and butter are available in this store.
    • Bread and butter is my food/ breakfast.
  • We are expressing the idea of food, which is considered as singular.
    • The law and order is out of control in some of the troublesome areas.
    • Slow and steady wins the race. -(both slow and steady means same)
    Siddu: Hai Nishat! How was your last Sunday?
    Nishat: It was quite relaxing after a hectic week.
    What about you?
    Siddu: I was so happy that my uncle and
    my guardian whom I loved
    most has come to see me.
    Nishat: Are they from your native place?
    Siddu: Of course. Wait….. it is not ‘they’, but ‘he’.
    I love him a lot because he helps me in my need.
    Nishat: Oh. I got it as two different persons, one is your uncle and another is your guardian.
    Siddu: No! I am talking about my uncle; he is everything to me, uncle, guardian, guide and so on.
    Nishat: Then your sentence should be ‘My uncle and guardian has come’. But not ‘my uncle and my guardian’. If you are talking
    about two different persons, uncle is one person and guardian is
    another then you need to use ‘my’ twice . If you want to give
    different attributions to only one person, you use ‘my’ only once.

    Siddu: Now I got it. If I want to talk about Mahatma Gandhi, I should say ‘our leader, politician, father of the nation……. was responsible for the growth of the country.

    Nishat: Right. You are on the track now
    Some more examples
    • The chairman and principal of this college has attended the meeting. (one person)
    • The chairman and the principal of this college have attended the meeting. ( two persons)
  • Demonstrative adjectives like ‘the’, or possessive pronouns ‘his’, ‘her’, ‘my’, ‘our’, ‘their’ should be used only once if different attributions are for only one person/ noun.
    Siddu: My uncle was so dear to me because
    either my parents or my brother were there with me when I was in deep trouble.
    He stood beside me and gave me
    the moral support.
    Nishat: Hold on again. A simple correction
    in your sentence. It is not either my parents or my brother were but either my parents or my brother was
    Siddu: But as you said earlier I am talking about three persons and the subject is supposed to be in plural number.

    Nishat: You are right. But the conjunctions like either ……… or ,
    neither……… nor will agree with their nearest subject. It
    is right, if you say either my brother or my parents were there with me.

    Some more examples
    • Either the students or the teacher was present in the class.
      (nearest subject to the verb is ‘teacher’ and singular)
    • Either the teacher or the students were present in the class.
      (nearest subject to the verb is ‘students’ and plural)
    • Neither daily commodities nor petrol is cheap now a days.
    Siddu: Nitesh, tell me what’s wrong in the sentence
    is if I say the quality of the apples are not good.’ Because I’m talking about apples.
    Nitesh: Think carefully. You are talking about the ‘quality’ rather about apples in general . So quality is an abstract noun and considered singular and hence takes singular verb. The sentence should be ‘The quality of the apples is not good.

    Study some more examples
    • The picture of the soldiers is hung on the wall.
      ( the subject is ‘picture’ and not ‘soldiers’)
    • The pictures of the soldiers are hung on the wall.
    • The attendance of the students is very poor today.
    • This bunch of the flowers is beautiful.
    • A herd of cattle is grazing in the field.
    • A bunch of keys is on the table.
    Siddu: Theory as well as practicals are completed and we are ready to face the exams.
    Nishant: It is again your sentence lacks agreement between subject and verb. It is ‘theory as well as practicals is ……………….
    Siddu: You told me yesterday that when subjects in different numbers (singular and plural) are there the verb aggrees with the one which is nearest to the verb.

    Nishant: That’s true but conjunctions like, as well as, with, in addition to, with agree with the first subject.

    Some more examples
    • Mr.Ravi, with his group members, has met the minister.
    • All the group members, with their leader Ravi, have met the minister
  • The intention of the speaker here is to talk about the subject (‘Ravi’ in the first sentence and ‘group members’ in the second) and is adding the additional meaning. This additional meaning is written with in two commas or brackets, which is called as parenthesis.
    Siddu: There was an accident
    at the center, and
    each of the persons in
    the vehicle are injured.

    Nishat: it is each of the persons………
    is injured. Though there
    is more than one, you mean to refer them individually and hence the verb should be singular. Similar rule applies to sentences beginning with ‘every’.

    Some more examples
    • Each of the students is given a bag.
    • Each student is given a bag.
    • Each boy and girl in the class has presented one module.
    • Not only Raman but also his family members contribute much for the nation.
  • None and no take both singular and plural verbs depending on the number of the subject that follows it. Examples
    • None of the students have attended the seminar.
    • None of the mistake has been found.
    • No student is here to take the note.
    • No students are here to take the notes.
    Siddhu: Do you know Nishant, that
    Ravi’s family were divided and living separately.
    Nishant: It is sad. I know that recently but your sentence needs to be corrected “Ravi’s family was divided ….
    Siddhu: Why so! There are many members in the family, I mean more than one. So I used a plural verb.
    Nishant: Of course. But all the members together called ‘family’ and it is a collective noun. Any collective noun when talked as sing whole, takes singular verb only. Just as ‘the crowd is big’ , though there are many in the crowd.
    Siddhu: But I remember my teacher telling that “On the new economic policy the committee were divided in their opinions”. It is not ‘committee’ a collective noun?
    Nishant: That is true. When there is a separation in the group and when there is a division, then it is not a single entity but a combination of different parts. In such cases even the collective noun takes plural number verb like “Members of our team were at different places for practice”.

    Some more examples
    • This team is very strong and sure to win.
    • The class is big and difficult to manage.
    • The army of this country is always on alert.
    • The crowd were fighting against government on various reasons
    • The counsel has to taken the decision to increase the salary of the employees.
    • Sense and sensibility ________( be) the need of the day.
    • Upma and sambar ________(be) my favourite lunch.
    • The secretary and the chairman ________ (propose) celebrations.
    • The principal and president of the body ________ ( has/ have) to endorse the programme.
    • Every man and woman________ ( has/ have) the freedom of speech.
    • Neither he nor his brother ________( be) at fault.
    • Either you or he ________ ( has/ have) to work for the project.
    • Neither of you ________( be) present yesterday.
    • Either you or I ________ ( has/ have) to go to market.
    • Gold as well as silver ________( become) costly these days.
    • Both gold and silver ________( be) highly used in India.
    • Sense and sensibility is the need of the day.
    • Upma and sambar is my favourite lunch.
    • The secretary and the chairman propose celebrations
    • The principal and president of the body has to endorse the programme.
    • Every man and woman has the freedom of speech.
    • Neither he nor his brother is at fault.
    • Either you or he has to work for the project.
    • Neither of you was present yesterday.
    • Either you or I have to go to market.
    • Gold as well as silver becomes costly these days.
    • Both gold and silver are highly used in India.
Published date : 31 Mar 2011 06:13PM

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