When are verb agreements, and why are they important?

  1. In which of the following sentences is the verb not in agreement with the subject?

I. Everybody is at the party.
II. Several of them are there.
III. Most of my friends is there.

A. I only
B. II only
C. III only
D. I and II
E. II and III

2.In which of the following sentences is the verb not in agreement with the subject?

I. Jim and Nancy are in the car.
II. The twins and Nancy is in the car.
III. Neither the twins nor Nancy is in the car.

A. I only
B. II only
C. III only
D. I and II
E. II and III

3.In which of the following sentences is the verb not in agreement with the subject?

I. My family are going to different houses this Thanksgiving.
II. The committee is meeting at noon.
III. The team are practicing late today.

A. I only
B. II only
C. I and III
D. I, II, and III
E. I and II

2 Answers

Answer:

See below:

Explanation:

There are some languages where there is no such thing as noun/verb agreement (Thai is one) - the verb is the verb and doesn't change depending on the noun preceding it. English, however, does have it (and we end up with verb conjugation). For example, a partial conjugation for the verb "to be" is:

I am
You are
He/she/it is

and so on. I can only speculate as to why we have verb conjugations, but I'll hazard a guess that it's the languages that English came from that are to blame (I'm looking at you Latin).

Anyway... English has them and to not have noun/verb agreement is to end up with things that are jarring on a listener's ear, such as I is gone to the movies and are watching Star Wars.

Now to the specific questions:

1 C

The first two are ok (Everybody is a third person singular noun and so takes is, but Several is a third person plural noun and so takes are). Most is also third person plural and so needs are.

2 E

The first sentence is fine (two people listed and so we need a plural noun). The second sentence is also needs a plural noun since we have two groups listed (the twins and Nancy). It's the third one that I'm not sure about but I think we need a plural verb since there are two groups of people listed (again, the twins and Nancy).

3 C

"My family" is a singular noun - we're referring to a single group - and so needs a singular verb. The same is true with the second sentence with "the committee" also being a singular noun. And the same is true with "the team" also needing a singular verb.

Jan 1, 2018

Unlike languages such as French and Germany, there are no set grammar rules that everyone agrees on in English. Also, there are many differences between British and American English. Here's how I learned them.

In a sentence, the subject must agree with the verb. If the subject is singular, the verb must be singular. If the subject is plural the verb is plural. Usually, it's simple to determine. The subject, being a noun, is singular if it doesn't end in "s" and plural otherwise, and the verb is singular if it ends in "s" and plural otherwise.

There are exceptions of course, such as "oxen" (plural noun), "fish" (either singular or plural noun), "sheep" (either singular and plural noun), "mathematics" (plural but treated as a singular noun), "am" (singular verb), etc.

For pronouns, it is slightly more difficult and oftentimes depends on what the pronoun is referring to. For example, "I," "he," "she," and "it" can only refer to one person and are singular pronouns, while "we" and "they" are always plural. "You" can be either singular or plural and depends on the number of people referred to.

The relative pronouns "which," "what," "who," and "where" are singular if the things they refer to are singular and plural otherwise. The demonstrative pronouns "this" and "that" are always singular, and "these" and "those" are plural. The indefinite pronouns "each," "either," "neither," "one," "anyone," "anybody," "someone," "somebody," "no one," and "nobody" are singular, and "both," "few," "several," "many" are plural. "Some," "any," "none," "all," and "most" depends, again, if the things referred to are singular or plural.

The more complicated case is when the subject is a collective noun, i.e. a singular noun that refers to multiple things, such as a "band," a "group," a "team," a "herd," a "crowd," etc. A collective noun is singular if each thing referred to is doing the action in the same manner and plural otherwise. (I believe that British English, on the other hand, treats all collective nouns as singular.)

Then, if the subject is linked with "and," the verb needs to be plural. If the subject is linked with "or" or "nor," then the verb agrees with the subject that is closest to it. So, "Neither the twins nor he loves dogs" and "Neither he nor the twins love dogs."

With this, we can answer your questions. In the first question, sentence one and two are both correct, as "everyone" and "is" are singular, and "several" and "them" are plural. The third sentence is incorrect as "most" refers to "friends," which is plural. So, the verb needs to be the plural "are."

In the second question, the first option and third option are correct. In the first option, "Jim" and "Nancy," though both singular, are linked with the conjunction "and" and take a plural verb. In option three, the subjects are linked with "neither…nor…", and the verb agrees with the subject closest to it "Nancy" and should be singular. Option two is incorrect as the subjects are linked with the conjunction "and" and must be followed with the plural verb "are" instead.

Question three is more difficult as it involves collective nouns. Based on my understanding, only sentences one and two are correct. In the first sentence, my "family" are doing the action in a different manner (going to different houses) and takes the plural verb. In sentence two, the "committee" is doing the action in the same manner (meeting) and takes the singular verb. However, for sentence three, the team is practicing in the same manner so should use the singular verb "is."