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Grammar 14 - Verbs - Singular or Plural 1
"Bread and butter IS what the poor need," or "Bread and butter ARE what the poor need"?

Grammar 14 - Verbs - Singular or Plural 1

We have looked at various aspects of subject-verb agreements in the last three High English Grammar quizzes. This is the first of two quizzes concentrating on whether to use singular or plural verbs with two or more connected singular nouns.

We know that, in English grammar, subjects are represented by nouns and nouns are of different types. Three of the ways in which nouns are categorised include countable (singular and plural), uncountable and collective nouns. These nouns have a bearing on the sentences we construct because they represent subjects. When we want some action to be described we have to use verbs and subject-verb agreements become very important.

Firstly, we have to identify the subjects and determine whether they are represented by countable, uncountable or collective nouns. Then we have to determine whether the nouns are singular or plural. Further, if the sentence contains more than one noun, we have to identify the subject noun on whom the action verb has to be associated.

Once the type of noun has been determined then it becomes easier to use the required verb. Verbs do follow certain conventions and generally fall into two types represented by either a singular verb or a plural verb, which is related to the noun being associated with it. For instance, the sentence ‘one of my dogs are an Alsatian’ has the wrong subject-verb agreement. The correct usage is ‘one of my dogs is an Alsatian.’ The tendency to use ‘are’ could stem from the fact that ‘dogs’ is used. However, when you check ‘one of my dogs,’ it talks about a single dog and hence the use of the singular verb ’is.’

In the case of two or more singular nouns connected by ‘and’ the plural verb is used. For instance, ‘Arpana and Trupti are sisters’ is the correct usage and not ‘Arpana and Trupti is sisters.’

In another instance of two or more singular nouns connected by ‘and’ where one idea is expressed the singular verb is used. For instance, ‘his uncle and guardian wants him to study engineering’ is the correct usage and not , ‘his uncle and guardian want him to study engineering.’ Practice is the best form of study to understand the nuances of English grammar, and the quiz that follows helps you to do just that.

1.
Choose the sentence with the correct subject-verb agreement.
Every one of the supervisors are going to apply for leave, in protest against the manager.
Every one of the supervisors are applying for leave, in protest against the manager.
Every one of the supervisors has applied for leave, in protest against the manager.
Every one of the supervisors have applied for leave, in protest against the manager.
Remember that 'every one of the supervisors' qualifies the noun which is singular and hence the singular verb is used. The other options contain plural verbs and so are incorrect as the noun is singular
2.
Choose the sentence with the correct subject-verb agreement.
She was telling me that one of her close friends has contracted measles.
She was telling me that one of her close friends have contracted measles.
She was telling me that one of her close friends are about to contract measles.
She was telling me that one of her close friends are going to contract measles.
Remember that 'one of her close friends' qualifies the noun which is singular and hence the singular verb is used. The other options contain plural verbs which is incorrect as the noun is singular
3.
Choose the sentence with the correct subject-verb agreement.
Experience and age brings wisdom to man.
Experience and age bring wisdom to man.
Experience and age is bringing wisdom to man.
Experience and age has brought wisdom to man.
Remember 'experience and age' are singular nouns connected by 'and' and they qualify as plural nouns and hence the plural verb is used.. The other options contain singular verbs and so are incorrect as
4.
Choose the sentence with the correct subject-verb agreement.
Slow and steady wins the race.
Slow and steady win the race.
Slow and steady are winning the race.
Slow and steady are going to win the race.
Remember 'slow and steady' are singular nouns connected by 'and' but they express one idea and hence a singular verb is used. The other options contain plural verbs and so are incorrect as the nouns together expressing a single idea are singular
5.
Choose the sentence with the correct subject-verb agreement.
Bread and butter are what the poor want.
Bread and butter are going to be what the poor want.
Bread and butter are not what the poor want.
Bread and butter is what the poor want.
Remember 'bread and butter' are singular nouns connected by 'and' but they express one idea so a singular verb is used. The other options contain plural verbs which is incorrect as the nouns together expressing a single idea are singular
6.
Choose the sentence with the correct subject-verb agreement.
Neither of the opening batsmen were able to open their account.
Neither of the opening batsmen were able to open his account.
Neither of the opening batsmen was able to open his account.
Neither of the opening batsmen was able to open their account.
Remember that 'neither of the opening batsmen' qualifies the noun which is singular and hence the singular verb is used. Options 1 and 2 contain plural verbs, which is incorrect as the noun is singular. Option 4 contains 'their' which refers to plural but 'neither' refers to singular
7.
Choose the sentence with the correct subject-verb agreement.
Mustaq and Ayesha is going to the movie.
Mustaq and Ayesha are going to the movie.
Mustaq and Ayesha is at the movie.
Mustaq and Ayesha is not going to the movie.
Remember that 'Mustaq and Ayesha' are singular nouns connected by 'and' and they qualify as plural nouns and hence the plural verb is used. The other options contain singular verbs and so are incorrect as the nouns together are plural
8.
Choose the sentence with the correct subject-verb agreement.
The health department has decreed that alcohol and tobacco is injurious to health.
The health department has decreed that alcohol and tobacco is going to be injurious to health.
The health department has decreed that alcohol and tobacco is known to be injurious to health.
The health department has decreed that alcohol and tobacco are injurious to health.
Remember that 'alcohol and tobacco' are singular nouns connected by 'and' and they qualify as plural nouns and hence the plural verb is used. The other options contain singular verbs and so are incorrect as the nouns together are plural
9.
Choose the sentence with the correct subject-verb agreement.
He and I was together at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.
He and I was studying together at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.
He and I is together at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.
He and I were together at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.
Remember that 'He and I' are singular nouns (pronouns) connected by 'and' and they qualify as plural nouns and hence the plural verb is used. The other options contain singular verbs and so are incorrect as the nouns together are plural
10.
Choose the sentence with the correct subject-verb agreement.
Each of my brothers is a six-footer.
Each of my brothers are a six-footer.
Each of my brothers have a six-foot frame.
Each of my brothers are having a six-foot frame.
Remember that 'each of my brothers' qualifies the noun as singular and hence the singular verb is used. The other options contain plural verbs and so are incorrect
Author:  V T Narendra

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