Grammar: Subject–verb agreement
Look at the example errors below. Can you fix them?
|– One of the patients
|– First-year students
|– The funding that the researchers received
What are the grammar rules?
1. Verbs need to agree with their subjects. If a subject is singular, you need a singular verb. If the subject is plural, you need a plural verb.
– The participants were given a questionnaire.
– The researcher was surprised by the results.
2. Be careful! Uncountable nouns such as information, advice and money take a singular verb.
– This information [U] is available on the website.
3. With some phrases, subject–verb agreement is a little more complex.
|One of the...|
|A plural noun is used after this phrase. However, the verb must agree with the subject, which is one.
– One of the findings was that…
|None of the…|
|If an uncountable noun comes after this phrase, you need a singular verb; if the noun is plural, use a plural verb.
– None of the questionnaires were completed.
– None of the equipment was used.
|… or… / … nor…|
|If a subject is made up of a singular noun and a plural noun joined by or or nor, the verb must agree with the second noun.
– Neither the children nor the teacher was happy.
– Either the teacher or her students have to attend.
|together with / as well as / including|
|If you use one of these phrases, make sure that the verb still agrees with the subject only.
– The researcher, together with the confederate, was present at the meeting.
Here are the corrected errors from the start of the lesson.
|– One of the patients ||– One of the patients was given the medicine.|
|– First-year students ||– First-year students are often used in psychology studies.|
|– The funding that the researchers received ||– The funding [U] that the researchers received was provided by the government.|
Using the present tense, complete each sentence using the correct form of the verb in brackets.