Subject & Verb Agreement Tricks

Subject & Verb Agreement Tricks

English Section plays an extremely important role in cracking almost every aspired exam these days for it being an ineluctable section to crack the exam in the long run. Defence Exams like NDA, CDS, CAPF and others have added up English Section to check the basic comprehension knowledge of the candidates in English Language where being well aware of grammar rules is an inescapable task if you are really devoted towards your goal. Gone are the days when candidates used to remain oblivion of in-deep knowledge regarding English Language. In this vying backdrop, you have to cut the mustard in every aspect to perform like a victorious entity. 

Through our platform DefenceAdda, our motive is to reach at every door of defence aspirant to deliver smart study material in every accessible way. In this post, we will cover all the important Grammar rules and tricky scenarios in the form of "ENGLISH STUDY NOTES" on SUBJECT AND VERB AGREEMENT which is an essential part of English Grammar.


General Rule

The verb must agree with its subject in number and person

☞Rule-1 When two subjects are joined by ‘AND’ the verb is plural

Ex.-My friend and his father are in India

☞Rule-2 When two singular nouns joined by AND refer to the same person or thing, the verb is singular.

Ex.-The secretary and treasurer has been arrested.

The district magistrate and collector is on leave today

☞Rule-3 Article ‘THE’ is used only once when the two nouns refer to the same person or thing. If the two nouns refer to different persons or things, article ‘THE’ is used before each noun. In such cases, the verb will be in the plural form.

Ex.-The secretary and the president have been given warm welcome.

☞Rule-4 If two different singular nouns express one idea, the verb should be in the singular form.

Ex.-Bread and milk is good for Breakfast.

Rice and curry is my favorite dish

This is the long and the short of the matter.

☞Rule-5 When two singular subjects are practically synonymous the verb should be in the singular form.

Ex.-The law and order situation in the state is under control

His power and influence is on the decline.

Power and position has no charm for my friend.

Peace and Prosperity is the need to the day.

☞Rule-6 If two singular subjects combined by AND are preceded by each or every, the verb should be in the singular.

Ex.-Every boy and girl was present in the class Yesterday.

Every man and every woman has the right to express his or her view.

☞Rule-7 When the subjects joined by (Either-or), (Neither-nor) are of different persons, the verb will agree in person and number with the noun nearest to it.

Also, the plural subject must be placed nearest to the verb.

Ex.-Either Radha or Rani has done this mischief.

Neither Mohini nor Ragini is beautiful

Either the CM or the Cabinet Ministers are responsible for this problem.

Neither you nor he is to take up this task.

Either you or I am responsible for this mistake.

☞Rule-8 If connectives like with, together with, ‘as well as’ accompanied by etc. are used to combine two subjects the verb agrees with the subject mentioned first.

Ex.-The president of India together with his personal secretaries is invited to this function.

The actress, along with her manager and some friend, is attending the function.

Mr. Michael, accompanied by his wife and children is arriving tonight by train.

☞Rule-9 When (Not only-but also) is used to combine two subjects, the verb agrees with the subject close to it

Ex.-Not only Hari, but also his brothers were arrested.

☞Rule-10 Use of None/No.

None can take either a singular or a plural verb depending on the noun which follows it.

Structure [None + of the + (non-count noun) + singular verb]

Ex.-None of the counterfeit money has been found

Structure [None + of the + (plural count. noun) + plural verb]

Ex.-None of the students have finished the exam yet.

No can take either a singular or plural verb depending on the noun which follows it.

Structure : [No + Singular Noun + Singular Verb ]
ex- No employee has received the salary.
Structure : [No + plural Noun + plural Verb ]
Ex.- No examples are relevant to this case.

☞Rule-11 Many words indicating a number of people or animals are singular.

The following nouns are usually singular.

(If the individual members are acting separately, they are plural and take plural verb.)

[Congress, Family, Group, Committee, Class, Organisation, Team, Army, Club, Crowd, Government, Jury, Minority, Public]

Ex.-The family was happy at the news

The family were fighting over inheritance.

Our team is certain to win the match.

The committee have arrived by different trains.

The crowd was wild with excitement.

☞Rule-12 Majority can be singular or plural. If it is alone it is usually singular, if it is followed by a plural noun, it is usually plural.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Majority by itself is singular but when majority refers to a set of people it is plural.

e.g. A majority is always right.

e.g. A majority of students are right.

☞Rule-13 The number/A number

The number is singular: The number of acres destroyed by wildfires has increased dramatically over the past several years.

A number is plural: A number of students are standing outside the office.

☞Rule-14 Collective nouns indicating time, money and measurements used as a whole are Singular and take a singular verb.

Twenty five rupees is not such a big amount for him

Two miles is too much for this man to run.

☞Rule-15 when a lot of, a great deal of, plenty of, most of and some of refer to number, a plural verb is used.

Ex.-A lot of people were present in the party.

Some of the students were absent.

But, if these expressions refers to an amount, the verb is in the singular number.

Ex.-A lot of work has to be completed before we go.

A great deal of work has been finished

☞Rule-16 When the percentage or a part of something is mentioned with plural meaning the plural verb is used.

Ex.-30 % of Indian women are literate.

Three-quarters of the food has been eaten.

(Here the reference is to the food as a whole)

☞Rule-17 Barracks, Headquarters, Whereabouts, Alms etc. take a singular verb, as well as plural verb.

Ex.-The headquarters of the UNO is/are New York

☞Rule-18 In sports, while referring to the players, the name of the country is followed by plural verb.

Ex.-England have won the World Cup.

☞Rule-19 When the word ENEMY is used in the sense ‘Armed forces’ of a nation with which one’s country is at war, we have to use the plural verb.

The enemy were forced to Retreat.

☞Rule-20 Use of Lay and Lie

The verb Lay is transitive and is always followed by an object

The verb Lie is intransitive and cannot have an object.

(Lay – Laid – Laid)

Ex.-Lay the child on the bed.

I laid the book on the table.

(Lie – Lay – Lain)

Let me lie here.

He lay under that tree.

☞Rule 21. When sentences start with “there” or “here,” the subject will always be placed after the verb, so care needs to be taken to identify it correctly.


There are four hurdles to jump.

There is a high hurdle to jump.

Here are the keys.

There is a problem with the balance sheet.

Here are the papers you requested.

☞Rule 22 : Titles of books, movies, novels, etc. are treated as singular and take a singular verb.

The Burbs is a movie starring Tom Hanks.

☞Rule 23: When gerunds are used as the subject of a sentence, they take the singular verb form of the verb; but, when they are linked by and, they take the plural form.

Standing in the water was a bad idea.

Swimming in the ocean and playing drums are my hobbies.

☞Rule 24 :If two infinitives are separated by and they take the plural form of the verb.

To walk and to chew gum require great skill.

☞Rule 25: Don’t get confused by the words that come between the subject and verb; they do not affect agreement.

Ex- The dog, who is chewing on my jeans, is usually very good.

☞Rule 26: Inverted Sentences

Usually in a sentence the subject always precedes the verb, but sometimes they can reverse this order, so that the verb comes before the subject.

Incorrect: Through the Golden Eagle Bridge passes thousands of vehicles every day.

In the above sentence, the singular verb passes is not referring to the singular Golden Eagle Bridge but to the plural thousands of vehicles. Hence, the correct verb will be the plural pass.

Correct: Through the Golden Eagle Bridge pass thousands of vehicles every day.

☞27. Final Rule – Remember, only the subject affects the verb!

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