Here are some rules of subject verb agreement which can be very useful in finding errors sentence in competitive exams.
Subject is shown in bold and verb is shown in colour in examples of rules.
Rule: If the subject is singular, the verb must be singular. If the subject is plural, the verb must also be plural.
- Simran plays chess.
(Here subject ‘Simran’ is singular so verb ‘plays’ is also in singular form.)
(verb + s/es = singular,
here play + s = plays)
- They play cricket.
(Here subject ‘They’ is plural so verb ‘play’ is also in plural form.)
- Mom and Dad love us.
(Here subject ‘Mom and Dad’ is plural (more than one) so verb ‘love’ is also in plural form.)
Rule: If two singular noun refer to the same person or thing then the verb must be in singular form.
- The director and producer loves this food.
(Here the director and producer refers to the same person so verb is in singular form.)
(Here same person is the producer as well as the director of the film.
We can say that The director and producer Karan Johar.
Here Karan Johar is diractor of the film and he is also producer of the film. So director and producer refers to the same person.)
- The captain and wicket keeper plays here.
(Here the captain and wicket keeper refers to the same person so the verb is in singular form.)
(MS Dhoni is captain and wicket keeper of Indian cricket team)
If you observe above examples, article is used only once in the sentence. If the article is used more than once than it does not refer to same person and verb must be in plural form.
- The director and the producer love this food.
(Here article ‘the’ is used more than once so it does not refer to same person so there are two different persons ie the director and the producer so verb ‘love’ is in plural form.
- The captain and the wicket keeper play here.
(Here the captain and the wicket keeper refers to two different persons so verb is in plural form)
Rule: If two or more subjects are joined by with, like, besides, as well as, together with, along with, in addition to etc, the verb is used according to first subject.
- The captain as well as team members loves this food.
(Here two subjects ‘the captain’ and ‘team members’ are joined with ‘as well as’ but first subject, the captain, is singular so the verb ‘loves’ is also in singular form.)
- The team members as well as captain of the team love this food.
(Here two subjects ‘the team members’ and ‘the captain of the team’ are joined with ‘as well as’ but first subject, the team members’ is in plural so the verb ‘love’ is also in plural form.)
Rule: When two subjects are connected by either...or, neither...nor, not only...but also, or, nor, the subject which is nearest to the verb decides whether the verb will be singular or plural.
- Neither Sumitra nor her family members were present in the party.
(Here two subjects ‘sumitra’ and ‘her family members’ are joined with neither... nor. And subject ‘her family members’ is nearest to the verb ‘present’. Subject ‘her family members’ is plural so the verb ‘were’ is also in plural)
- Either you or I am driving the car.
(Here two subjects ‘you’ and ‘I’ are joined with either … or. And subject ‘I’ is nearest to the verb ‘driving’. So verb has taken the form ‘am driving’ according to the subject ‘I’.)
Rule: Plural verb is used to show wish, regret, unlikely condition etc.
- I wish I were a soldier.
(Here ‘I were’ is used instead of ‘I am’ because it is a wish)
Rule: Singular verb must be followed by each, every, anyone, someone, either, neither, etc.
- Neither of this city knows you.
- Each of this class is a scholar.
Rule: Collective nouns like Team, Family, Jury, Crowd, Class, Committee, Army, Assembly, Fleet, Majority, Mob, Government, Parliament Council, Staff, etc., the verb used can be singular or plural according to the meaning of the sentence. If the collective noun is used as a unit then the verb will be singular, but if the collective noun is not working as unit then the verb used will be plural.
- The committee has arrived.
(Here subject ‘the committee’ is used as a unit so verb ‘has’ is in plural form)
- The committee have different opinions.
(Here subject ‘the committee’ is divided and does not work as a unit so verb ‘have’ is in plural form)
Rule: Some nouns like glasses, shoes, pants, trousers, spectacles etc take plural verb.
- My pants are not ready to wear.
- My spectacles are missing.
Rule: Some nouns like News, Gallows, Billiards, Innings, Wages, Alms, Physics etc sounds like plural noun but they are singular in meaning and take singular verb.
- Physics was my favourite subject.
- The news is very good.