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Subject / Verb Agreement
The family is having a picnic.

Subject / Verb Agreement

In any sentence or clause, the subject must agree with the verb, e.g. 'The boys play football on Saturdays, but John plays only on Friday'. The subject 'boys' is plural, so the verb is required to be in the plural form 'play'. The subject 'John' is singular, so the verb is required to be in the singular form 'plays'.

When you hear the English language, you will probably be able to detect a wrong subject/verb agreement, even if you don't know that's what it is. A word or words will sound wrong. Occasionally, in written language, it's harder to detect as our brains tend to read what should be correct. This is all very nice, and I am sure that you don't have any problems with this stuff. Unfortunately, there are situations that can cause some difficulties.

This 11-plus quiz is a bit tricky, so take your time and read the questions carefully, even saying them out loud if it helps.

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1.
In which of the following sentences is the subject-verb agreement wrong?
The police have been informed
The family is having a picnic
My trousers is torn
My trousers are torn
Some nouns are ALWAYS plural: these require a plural verb form. In this case, 'are'. Nouns which are always plural include the following: scissors, clothes, shorts, glasses (for one's eyes), jeans, binoculars, slacks and pliers
2.
In which of the following sentences is the subject-verb agreement wrong?
He has a lot of knowledge about this subject
The furniture in her house is very modern
The news is bad
The news are bad
'News' ends in '-s', but it is NOT a plural: it is singular and requires a singular verb form. Here are some other words that are singular and require singular verb forms: weather, anger, advice, music, information and measles
3.
In which of the following sentences is the subject-verb agreement wrong?
People is easily duped by politicians
People are easily duped by politicians
The government are doing a good job
The government is doing a good job
In British English, most collective nouns can be treated as singular or plural; however, 'people' and 'police' require a plural verb form
4.
In which of the following sentences is the subject-verb agreement wrong?
Here are the toys for Peter
There are two ways to solve this problem
There is two ways to solve this problem
Here is something for you
'There' and 'here' are never subjects. In this case, 'two ways' is the subject, so the verb has to be in the plural form: 'are'. By the way, these are called expletive constructions
5.
In which of the following sentences is the subject-verb agreement wrong?
Neither of the two computers is working
Neither of the two computers are working
Which book do you want? Either is fine with me
None of the athletes have turned up for the meet
The pronouns 'neither' and 'either' are singular and require singular verb forms
6.
In which of the following sentences is the subject-verb agreement wrong?
The director, along with his executives, is in a meeting
The director, along with his executives, are in a meeting
The director and the chief executive are in a meeting
The director is in a meeting
Ignore 'stuff' that is written between a subject and its verb: 'along with his executives'. This 'stuff' is normally set off by commas. In this case, the subject ('director') is in the singular, so it requires a singular verb form: 'is'
7.
In which of the following sentences is the subject-verb agreement wrong?
Some of the money was missing
Each takes his turn at riding the horse
Everyone in the club has a set of golf clubs
Everyone in the club have a set of golf clubs
When used as a subject, 'everyone' takes a singular verb
8.
In which of the following sentences is the subject-verb agreement wrong?
Either my father or my brothers is going to drive me to the cinema
Either my brothers or my father is going to drive me to the cinema
Either my father or my brothers are going to drive me to the cinema
Either my mother or my father is going to drive me to the cinema
With 'either ... or ...' or 'neither ... nor ...' the subject closer to the verb determines the number of the verb. In this case, 'brothers' is closer than 'father', so you need 'are' NOT 'is'
9.
In which of the following sentences is the subject-verb agreement wrong?
He was one of those workers that was fired
He was one of those workers that were fired
He was the only one of the workers who was fired
The number of road accidents has fallen
If the subject is followed by 'one of the' or 'one of those', the verb form agrees with the object of the preposition. In this case, 'workers' is plural, so the verb has to be in the plural form: 'were'. The verb does NOT agree with the subject 'he'. If the subject is followed by 'the only one of', the verb has to be in the singular form. Finally, when used as representing a group or unit, the expression 'the number' takes a verb in the singular
10.
In which of the following sentences is the subject-verb agreement wrong?
Each of the students are responsible for looking after their things
None of them speak French
None of them speaks French
Everyone has left the building
'Each' always requires a singular verb. 'None' can be used with a verb in the singular/plural form
Author:  Frank Evans

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