English - Concord (4)

Choose the correct words in the following sentences from the choices offered:

  1. The striker and the defender (run / runs) towards the ball.
  2. All but the goalkeeper (is / are) in their opponents' half.
  3. The referee, with his assistant, (decide / decides) to award a penalty.

These are all slight variations on what we have seen in previous examples but the concepts are similar - we need to know whether the subject of the sentence is treated as an individual, regardless of whether it is part of a pair or group.

The striker and the defender (run / runs) towards the ball.
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SUBJECT VERB

The striker and the defender are both doing something, simultaneously, using the word 'and' to show that they are together. They are effectively a pair - therefore a plural - so the correct sentence should read:

The striker and the defender run towards the ball.


In the second sentence, the structure is as follows:

All but the goalkeeper (is / are) in their opponent’s half
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SUBJECT EXTRA INFO VERB

You can almost imagine the brackets around the 'extra information' part - the subject is 'All' and as that is a plural, the correct sentence should read:

All but the goalkeeper are in their opponents' half.


Finally, the third sentence:

The referee, with his assistant (decide / decides) to award a penalty.
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SUBJECT EXTRA INFO VERB

Again, we have to ignore the extra detail and look at the simplest form of the sentence. 'The referee' is singular, the extra information doesn't affect that and therefore the correct version is:

The referee, with his assistant, decides to award a penalty.

Note that if the referee AND his assistant had awarded the penalty, we would have to treat it as a pair of people and it would be a plural.

When singular subjects are linked by 'with', 'like' and 'as well as', they remain singular. When they are linked by 'and' they become plural.

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