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Comparative and Superlative

SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT
The basic rule states that a singular subject takes a
Basic singular verb, while a plural subject takes a plural
Rule. verb.
NOTE: The trick is in knowing whether the
subject is singular or plural. The next trick is
recognizing a singular or plural verb.
Hint: Verbs do not form their plurals by adding an
s as nouns do. In order to determine which verb is
singular and which one is plural, think of which
verb you would use with he or she and which verb
you would use with they.
Example
:

talks, talk
Which one is the singular form?
Which word would you use with he?
We say, "He talks." Therefore, talks is
singular. We say, "They talk."
Therefore, talk is plural.


Rule Two singular subjects connected by or or nor
1.
require a singular verb.
Example
:

My aunt or my uncle is arriving by
train today.

Rule Two singular subjects connected by either/or or
2.
neither/nor require a singular verb as in Rule 1.
Neither Juan nor Carmen is available.


Examples
:

Either Kiana or Casey is helping
today with stage decorations.

Rule When I is one of the two subjects connected by
3.
either/or or neither/nor, put it second and follow it
with the singular verb am.
Example
:

Neither she nor I am going to the
festival.

Rule When a singular subject is connected by or or nor
4.
to a plural subject, put the plural subject last and
use a plural verb.
Example
:

The serving bowl or the plates go on


that shelf.

Rule When a singular and plural subject are connected
5.
by either/or or neither/nor, put the plural subject
last and use a plural verb.
Example
:

Neither Jenny nor the others are
available.

Rule As a general rule, use a plural verb with two or
6.
more subjects when they are connected by and.
Example
:

A car and a bike are my means of
transportation.


Rule Sometimes the subject is separated from the verb
7.
by words such as along with, as well as, besides, or
not. Ignore these expressions when determining
whether to use a singular or plural verb.
Examples
:

The politician, along with the
newsmen, is expected shortly.
Excitement, as well as nervousness, is
the cause
of her shaking.

Rule The pronouns each, everyone, every one,
8.
everybody, anyone, anybody, someone, and
somebody are singular and require singular verbs.
Do not be misled by what follows of.
Examples
:

Each of the girls sings well.
Every one of the cakes is gone.
NOTE: Everyone is one word when it
means everybody. Every one is two
words when the meaning is each one.

Rule
With words that indicate portions—percent,
9.
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.


Examples
:

Fifty percent of the pie has
disappeared.
Pie is the object of the preposition of.
Fifty percent of the pies have
disappeared.
Pies is the object of the preposition.
One-third of the city is unemployed.
One-third of the people are
unemployed.
NOTE: Hyphenate all spelled-out
fractions.
All of the pie is gone.
All of the pies are gone.
Some of the pie is missing.
Some of the pies are missing.
None of the garbage was picked up.
None of the sentences were
punctuated correctly.
Of all her books, none have sold as
well as the first one.

NOTE: Apparently, the SAT testing service considers none
as a singular word only. However, according to Merriam
Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, "Clearly none has
been both singular and plural since Old English and still is.
The notion that it is singular only is a myth of unknown
origin that appears to have arisen in the 19th century. If in
context it seems like a singular to you, use a singular verb; if


it seems like a plural, use a plural verb. Both are acceptable
beyond serious criticism" (p. 664).
Rule When either and neither are subjects, they always
10.
take singular verbs.
Examples
:

Neither of them is available to speak
right now.
Either of us is capable of doing the
job.

Rule The words here and there have generally been
11.
labeled as adverbs even though they indicate place.
In sentences beginning with here or there, the
subject follows the verb.
Examples:

There are four hurdles to jump.
There is a high hurdle to jump.

Rule Use a singular verb with sums of money or periods
12.
of time.
Examples
:

Ten dollars is a high price to pay.
Five years is the maximum sentence
for that offense.

Rule Sometimes the pronoun who, that, or which is the
13.
subject of a verb in the middle of the sentence. The
pronouns who, that, and which become singular or
plural according to the noun directly in front of


them. So, if that noun is singular, use a singular
verb. If it is plural, use a plural verb.
Examples
:

Salma is the scientist who writes/write
the reports.
The word in front of who is scientist,
which is singular. Therefore, use the
singular verb writes.
He is one of the men who does/do the
work.
The word in front of who is men,
which is plural. Therefore, use the
plural verb do.

Rule Collective nouns such as team and staff may be
14.
either singular or plural depending on their use in
the sentence.
Examples
:

The staff is in a meeting.
Staff is acting as a unit here.
The staff are in disagreement about
the findings.
The staff are acting as separate
individuals in this example.
The sentence would read even better
as:
The staff members are in disagreement
about the findings.

Subject and Verb Agreement Quiz


1. Choose the sentence in which the subjects and verbs have
been correctly identified and in which the subjects and verbs
agree. The subjects are in bold and the verbs are underlined.
A) At the end of the story, they was living happily ever after.
B) At the end of the story, they were living happily ever after.
C) At the end of the story, they were living happily ever after.
D) At the end of the story, they was living happily ever after.
2. Choose the sentence in which the subjects and verbs have
been correctly identified and in which the subjects and verbs
agree. The subjects are in bold and the verbs are underlined.
A) Al and Eli go to the beach to surf with their friends.
B) Al and Eli go to the beach to surf with their friends.
C) Al and Eli goes to the beach to surf with their friends.
D) Al and Eli goes to the beach to surf with their friends.
3. Choose the sentence in which the subjects and verbs have
been correctly identified and in which the subjects and verbs
agree. The subjects are in bold and the verbs are underlined.
A) When Al and Eli arrive, they find that their friends has
waxed their boards.
B) When Al and Eli arrive, they find that their friends has
waxed their boards.
C) When Al and Eli arrive, they find that their friends have
waxed their boards.
D) When Al and Eli arrive, they find that their friends have
waxed their boards.


4. Choose the sentence in which the subjects and verbs have
been correctly identified and in which the subjects and verbs
agree. The subjects are in bold and the verbs are underlined.
A) The group of children from that school has never seen the
ocean.
B) The group of children from that school have never seen
the ocean.
C) The group of children from that school has never seen the
ocean.
D) The group of children from that school have never seen
the ocean.
5. Choose the sentence in which the subjects and verbs have
been correctly identified and in which the subjects and verbs
agree. The subjects are in bold and the verbs are underlined.
A) If our staff members doesn't quit picking at each other, we
will not meet our goals.
B) If our staff members don't quit picking at each other, we
will not meet our goals.
C) If our staff members don't quit picking at each other, we
will not meet our goals.
D) If our staff members doesn't quit picking at each other, we
will not meet our goals.
6. Choose the sentence in which the subjects and verbs have
been correctly identified and in which the subjects and verbs
agree. The subjects are in bold and the verbs are underlined.
A) Either Gary or I am responsible for allocating the funds.
B) Either Gary or I are responsible for allocating the
funds.
C) Either Gary or I am responsible for allocating the


funds.
D) Either Gary or I are responsible for allocating the funds.
7. Choose the sentence in which the subjects and verbs have
been correctly identified and in which the subjects and verbs
agree. The subjects are in bold and the verbs are underlined.
A) Neither she nor they were willing to predict the election
results.
B) Neither she nor they was willing to predict the election
results.
C) Neither she nor they was willing to predict the election
results.
D) Neither she nor they were willing to predict the election
results.
8. Choose the sentence in which the subjects and verbs have
been correctly identified and in which the subjects and verbs
agree. The subjects are in bold and the verbs are underlined.
A) Nora is one of the candidates who are worthy of my vote.
B) Nora is one of the candidates who is worthy of my vote.
C) Nora is one of the candidates who are worthy of my
vote.
D) Nora is one of the candidates who is worthy of my vote.
9. Choose the sentence in which the subjects and verbs have
been correctly identified and in which the subjects and verbs
agree. The subjects are in bold and the verbs are underlined.
A) Nora, of all the candidates who are running, is the best.
B) Nora, of all the candidates who are running, is the best.
C) Nora, of all the candidates who is running, is the best.


D) Nora, of all the candidates who is running, is the best.
10. Choose the sentence in which the subjects and verbs have
been correctly identified and in which the subjects and verbs
agree. The subjects are in bold and the verbs are underlined.
A) My problem, which is minor in comparison with others,
exists because I dropped out of high school.
B) My problem, which is minor in comparison with others,
exist because I dropped out of high school.
C) My problem, which is minor in comparison with others,
exists because I dropped out of high school.
D) My problem, which is minor in comparison with others,
exist because I dropped out of high school.
11. Choose the sentence in which the subjects and verbs have
been correctly identified and in which the subjects and verbs
agree. The subjects are in bold and the verbs are underlined.
A) His dogs, which is kept outside, bark all day long.
B) His dogs, which is kept outside, bark all day long.
C) His dogs, which are kept outside, bark all day long.
D) His dogs, which are kept outside, bark all day
long.
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Grade Quiz


Quiz Results
1. Correct Answer: C
At the end of the story, they were living
happily ever after. (or were)
Explanation: Use a plural verb with a plural subject.
2. Correct Answer: B
their friends.

Al and Eli go to the beach to surf with

Explanation: Use a plural verb with a plural subject. You would
say "they go."
3. Correct Answer: D
When Al and Eli arrive, they find that
their friends have waxed their boards.
Explanation: "Arrive" is the plural verb used with the plural
subjects "Al" and "Eli." "Find" is the plural verb used with the
plural subject "they." "Have" is the plural helping verb used with
the plural subject "friends."
4. Correct Answer: C
The group of children from that school
has never seen the ocean.
Explanation: "Group" is a singular collective noun so takes a
singular verb. With "has" or "have," use "seen," not "saw." "Never"
could be considered part of the complete verb.
5. Correct Answer: B
If our staff members don't quit picking at
each other, we will not meet our goals. (or don't quit picking)
Explanation: Use a plural verb with a plural subject. "Staff" is an
adjective describing "members." "Picking" could be considered
part of the complete verb. "Not" could also be considered part of
the complete verb.


6. Correct Answer: C
allocating the funds.

Either Gary or I am responsible for

Explanation: When two subjects are connected by "or" and the
second subject is "I," put "I" second and use the singular verb
"am." "Responsible" is an adjective, not a verb, but may be
considered part of the complete verb.

7. Correct Answer: A
Neither she nor they were willing to
predict the election results. (or were)
Explanation: With two subjects, place the plural subject last and
use a plural verb. "Willing" is part of the complete verb. "Neither"
is only the subject when it is followed by "of" or when no nouns or
pronouns directly follow.
8. Correct Answer: A
worthy of my vote.

Nora is one of the candidates who are

Explanation: "Nora is" is a singular subject and verb pair. When
"who" is followed by a verb, it becomes the subject of that verb. To
determine whether "who" is singular or plural, look at the noun
directly preceding it. Since "candidates" is plural, "who" becomes
plural so use "are."
9. Correct Answer: B
Nora, of all the candidates who are
running, is the best. (or are)
Explanation: "Nora" is the singular subject of the main clause
"Nora is the best." When "who" is followed by a verb, it becomes
the subject of that verb. To determine whether "who" is singular or
plural, look at the noun directly preceding it. Since "candidates" is
plural, "who" becomes plural so use "are."


10. Correct Answer: C
My problem, which is minor in
comparison with others, exists because I dropped out of high
school.
Explanation: When "which" is followed by a verb, it becomes the
subject of that verb. To determine whether "which" is singular or
plural, look at the noun directly preceding it. Since "problem" is
singular, "which" becomes plural so use "is" as the verb. The main
clause is "My problem exists." "I dropped out of high school" is
another clause.
11. Correct Answer: D
all day long.

His dogs, which are kept outside, bark

Explanation: When "which" is followed by a verb, it becomes the
subject of that verb. To determine whether "which" is singular or
plural, look at the noun directly preceding it. Since "dogs" is
plural, "which becomes plural so use "are" as the plural verb
following it. The main clause is "His dogs bark all day long."
Making Subjects and Verbs Agree
This handout gives you several guidelines to help your subjects
and verbs agree.
1. When the subject of a sentence is composed of two or more
nouns or pronouns connected by and, use a plural verb.
She and her friends are at the fair.
2. When two or more singular nouns or pronouns are connected by
or or nor, use a singular verb.
The book or the pen is in the drawer.


3. When a compound subject contains both a singular and a plural
noun or pronoun joined by or or nor, the verb should agree with the
part of the subject that is nearer the verb.
The boy or his friends run every day.
His friends or the boy runs every day.
4. Doesn't is a contraction of does not and should be used only
with a singular subject. Don't is a contraction of do not and should
be used only with a plural subject. The exception to this rule
appears in the case of the first person and second person pronouns
I and you. With these pronouns, the contraction don't should be
used.
He doesn't like it.
They don't like it.
5. Do not be misled by a phrase that comes between the subject
and the verb. The verb agrees with the subject, not with a noun or
pronoun in the phrase.
One of the boxes is open
The people who listen to that music are few.
The team captain, as well as his players, is anxious.
The book, including all the chapters in the first section, is boring.
The woman with all the dogs walks down my street.


6. The words each, each one, either, neither, everyone, everybody,
anybody, anyone, nobody, somebody, someone, and no one are
singular and require a singular verb.
Each of these hot dogs is juicy.
Everybody knows Mr. Jones.
Either is correct.
7. Nouns such as civics, mathematics, dollars, measles, and news
require singular verbs.
The news is on at six.
Note: the word dollars is a special case. When talking about an
amount of money, it requires a singular verb, but when referring to
the dollars themselves, a plural verb is required.
Five dollars is a lot of money.
Dollars are often used instead of rubles in Russia.
8. Nouns such as scissors, tweezers, trousers, and shears require
plural verbs. (There are two parts to these things.)
These scissors are dull.
Those trousers are made of wool.
9. In sentences beginning with there is or there are, the subject
follows the verb. Since there is not the subject, the verb agrees
with what follows.


There are many questions.
There is a question.
10. Collective nouns are words that imply more than one person
but that are considered singular and take a singular verb, such as:
group, team, committee, class, and family.
The team runs during practice.
The committee decides how to proceed.
The family has a long history.
My family has never been able to agree.
In some cases, a sentence may call for the use of a plural verb
when using a collective noun.
The crew are preparing to dock the ship.
This sentence is referring to the individual efforts of each crew
member. The Gregg Reference Manual provides excellent
explanations of subject-verb agreement (section 10: 1001).
11. Expressions such as with, together with, including,
accompanied by, in addition to, or as well do not change the
number of the subject. If the subject is singular, the verb is too.
The President, accompanied by his wife, is traveling to India.
All of the books, including yours, are in that box.




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