Grammar Tips (4): Subject-Verb Agreement

In Careers, Education by tmc

Constructing coherent and meaningful sentences involves the ability to combine the right subjects and verbs properly. Being able to find the right subject and verb will help you correct errors of subject-verb agreement.

Here is a general rule: A single subject (He, Paper, Bosede) takes a singular verb (is, goes, shines) whereas a plural subject takes a plural verb.
E.g.:
Bosede is running
Lekan was mugged
The paper is green
When combining the right subjects and verbs, the following should be observed and adhered to:
1. A subject will come before a phrase beginning with “of”. This is an important key to understanding subjects.
E.g.:
Incorrect: The bunch of keys are on the table over there
Correct: The bunch of keys is on the table over there
“The bunch” is, not “the keys” are… The subject is “the bunch” which in this case is singular.

2. Two singular subjects connected by “or”, “either/or” or “neither/nor” require a singular verb. The verb always agrees with the noun or pronoun closest to it.
E.g.:
Either Andrew or John is on top of the fence
Neither Sade nor Folake is going to take the bait
Can either Sophia or Arianna come over for dinner?

3. As a general rule, another general rule, use a plural verb when two or more subjects are connected by “and”.
E.g.:
My mum and I are going to the mall
Sogo and Segun are twins
‘Face off’ and ‘Sound of Music’ are two of the classic movies ever produced

4. In sentences in which there is an “or”, “either/or” or “neither/nor”, the verb agrees with the noun or pronoun closest to it.
E.g.:
Sogo or Sanjo is coming tomorrow
Neither Bolanle nor Adura will give you a chance
The Bahamas or the Caribbean is your best bet for that vacation you have been craving for

5. Use a singular verb with distances, periods of time, sums of money, etc, when considered as a unit.
E.g.:
N2 million is all I can accept for this job
Life imprisonment is what he can get