Scribblings of a grammatically challenged soul - Part 3

  • Basic Principle: Singular subjects need singular verbs; plural subjects need plural verbs

    The indefinite pronouns anyone, everyone, everybody, someone, no one, nobody are always singular and, therefore, require singular verbs.
    Everyone has done his or her homework.

    Some indefinite pronouns — such as all, some — are singular or plural depending on what they're referring to. (countable or not?)
    Some of the beads are missing.
    Some of the water is gone.

    Two singular subjects connected by or or nor require a singular verb.
    My aunt or my uncle is arriving by train today

    Each is often followed by a prepositional phrase ending in a plural word (Each of the cars). Each, too, is always singular and requires a singular verb.
    Each of the students is responsible for doing his or her work in the library.
    Don't let the word "students" confuse you; the subject is each and each is always singular

    Two singular subjects connected by either/or or neither/nor require a singular verb
    Neither Juan nor Carmen is available.
    Either Kiana or Casey is helping today with stage decorations.

    Phrases such as together with, as well as, and along with are not the same as and. The phrase introduced by as well as or along with will modify the earlier word (mayor in this case), but it does not compound the subjects (as the word and would do).
    The mayor as well as his brothers is going to prison.
    The mayor and his brothers are going to jail.

    When I is one of the two subjects connected by either/or or neither/nor, put it second and follow it with the singular verb am.
    Neither she nor I am going to the festival.

    When a singular subject is connected by or or nor to a plural subject, put the plural subject last and use a plural verb.
    The serving bowl or the plates go on that shelf.

    The words that come between the subject and verb do not affect agreement.
    The dog, who is chewing on my jeans, is usually very good.

    As a general rule, use a plural verb with two or more subjects when they are connected by and.
    A car and a bike are my means of transportation.

    Sometimes the subject is separated from the verb by words such as along with, as well as, besides, or not. Ignore these expressions when determining whether to use a singular/plural verb.
    The politician, along with the newsmen, is expected shortly.
    Excitement, as well as nervousness, is the cause of her shaking.

    With words that indicate portions—percent, fraction, part, majority, some, all, none, remainder, and so forth —look at the noun in your of phrase (object of the preposition) to determine whether to use a singular or plural verb. If the object of the preposition is singular, use a singular verb. If the object of the preposition is plural, use a plural verb.
    All of the pie is gone.
    All of the pies are gone.

    The expression the number is followed by a singular verb while the expression a number is followed by a plural verb.
    The number of people we need to hire is thirteen.
    A number of people have written in about this subject.

    Use a singular verb with sums of money or periods of time.
    Ten dollars is a high price to pay.
    Five years is the maximum sentence for that offense.

    none can be either singular or plural.
    None of the engines are working ( here none - not any )
    None of the food is fresh ( here none - not one )


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