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Grammar 15 - Verbs - Singular or Plural 2
"Her aunt and his uncle HAVE become friends," or "Her aunt and his uncle HAS become friends"?

Grammar 15 - Verbs - Singular or Plural 2

We have already looked at subject-verb agreements and you will have seen that some aspects of it can be difficult to understand. So, to help you in your studies, this is the second of two High English quizzes looking at whether to use singular or plural verbs with two or more connected singular nouns.

We have seen in the last quiz that the character of a noun determines the verb to be used in a sentence. We can sometimes get confused by the choice of verbs to be used – singular or plural. The trick is to identify the subject noun that we want to use to describe an action. In order to identify to which category the nouns belong we need to isolate them as countable or uncountable or as collective nouns. Depending on the type of noun the subject is we next determine if the noun is plural or singular. Usually, uncountable nouns are singular but with exceptions. Countable nouns can have singular or plural forms. Based on our identification we can use the appropriate verb and satisfy the subject-verb agreement conditions.

Earlier we looked at subjects that are singular or plural. We also looked at subjects comprising two singular nouns and two singular nouns expressing a single idea as well. Sometimes, one subject is described in two connected singular nouns and one of them is usually preceded by a determiner and in such cases the singular verb is used. For instance, ‘Some bread and butter is what the poor need' would be the correct sentence. On the other hand, when two singular nouns are preceded by determiners a plural verb is used. For instance, ‘the actor and the singer were the principal players in the drama’ would be the correct sentence.

There are instances where the nouns are connected by words such as 'or,' 'neither,' 'nor' and 'either.. or' and in such cases we use singular verbs. However, in cases where we connect two persons or subjects by using ‘or’ and ‘nor’ then the verb that agrees with the second subject is to be used. The quiz that follows helps us to understand the intricacies of subject-verb agreements.

1.
Choose the sentence with the correct subject-verb agreement.
Either the table or the chairs is being shifted to get some space for the new sofa.
Either the table or the chairs is to be shifted to get some space for the new sofa.
Either the table or the chairs has to be shifted to get some space for the new sofa.
Either the table or the chairs have to be shifted to get some space for the new sofa.
Remember, when subjects are connected by 'or' or 'nor' and they are different subjects the verb should agree with the last subject. The other options contain verbs not agreeing with the second subject (chairs)
2.
Choose the sentence with the correct subject-verb agreement.
The notable freedom fighter and orator have died.
The notable freedom fighter and orator are dying.
The notable freedom fighter and orator are dead.
The notable freedom fighter and orator is dead.
Remember, 'freedom fighter and orator' here represents the same person and hence a 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.
Neither Abhishek nor Arvind have come first in class.
Neither Abhishek nor Arvind has come first in class.
Neither Abhishek nor Arvind are coming first in class.
Neither Abhishek nor Arvind are first in class.
Remember, when singular subjects are connected by 'neither...nor' a singular verb is used. The other options contain plural verbs and so are incorrect as the subject is singular
4.
Choose the sentence with the correct subject-verb agreement.
My uncle and guardian wants me to join the air force.
My uncle and guardian want me to join the air force.
My uncle and guardian are wanting me to join the air force.
My uncle and guardian are urging me to join the air force.
Remember 'uncle and guardian' here represents the same person and hence a singular verb is used. The other options contain plural verbs and so are incorrect as the noun is singular
5.
Choose the sentence with the correct subject-verb agreement.
Neither the girl nor the boy has been selected for the debating team.
Neither the girls nor the boy are being selected for the debating team.
Neither the girls nor the boy are going to be selected for the debating team.
Neither the girls nor the boy are selected for the debating team.
Remember, when subjects are connected by 'or' or 'nor' and they are different subjects the verb should agree with the last subject. The other options contain verbs not agreeing with the second subject (boy)
6.
Choose the sentence with the correct subject-verb agreement.
His aunt and her uncle have become friends.
His aunt and her uncle has become friends.
His aunt and her uncle is becoming friends.
His aunt and her uncle has not become friends.
Remember 'His aunt and her uncle' here represents two different persons, as identified by the use of the possessive determiners 'his' and 'her' before both singular nouns, and hence a plural verb is used. The other options contain singular verbs, which is incorrect as the subject is plural
7.
Choose the sentence with the correct subject-verb agreement.
Either Australia or New Zealand are having the chance of winning the Cricket World Cup.
Either Australia or New Zealand have the chance of winning the Cricket World Cup.
Either Australia or New Zealand has the chance of winning the Cricket World Cup.
Either Australia or New Zealand have no chance of winning the Cricket World Cup.
Remember, when singular subjects are connected by 'either...or' a singular verb is used. The other options contain plural verbs, which is incorrect as the subject is singular
8.
Choose the sentence with the correct subject-verb agreement.
Neither Lakshman nor I has any objection to you going to Chennai tomorrow.
Neither Lakshman nor I is having any objection to you going to Chennai tomorrow.
Neither Lakshman nor I have any objection to you going to Chennai tomorrow.
Neither Lakshman nor I is going to have any objection to you going to Chennai tomorrow.
Remember, when subjects are connected by 'or' or 'nor' and they are different subjects the verb should agree with the last subject. The other options contain verbs not agreeing with the second subject, (I)
9.
Choose the sentence with the correct subject-verb agreement.
The politician and the industrialist is not being invited to the wedding.
The politician and the industrialist is being invited to the wedding.
The politician and the industrialist has been invited to the wedding.
The politician and the industrialist have been invited to the wedding.
Remember 'The politician and the industrialist' here represents two different persons as identified by the use of 'the' before both singular nouns, and hence a plural verb is used. The other options contain singular verbs and so are incorrect as the subject is plural
10.
Choose the sentence with the correct subject-verb agreement.
Either the tiger or the lion have to be sent out of the zoo.
Either the tiger or the lion has to be sent out of the zoo.
Either the tiger or the lion are to be sent out of the zoo.
Either the tiger or the lion are going to be sent out of the zoo.
Remember, when subjects are connected by 'or' or 'nor' and they are different subjects the verb should agree with the last subject. The other options contain verbs not agreeing with the second subject (lion)
Author:  V T Narendra

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