Verbs are words reveal what the subject (noun, pronoun, or clause) does, or what is done to it. It expresses action, or a state of being, or condition and also indicates the tense (past, present, future) of the action. It takes on a pluralized or singular form in accordance with the number of subjects it is referring to.
- TENSE – a form of verb that expresses the time of action or being or condition (past, present, future). Tense is indicated by the:
- Inflection form of the verb (sing/sang -- look/looked) or by the use of:
- Auxiliary verb forms - (will sing -- have looked).
Past: Heather narrated the documentary on endangered species.
Present: I need those new blueprints now.
Future: Charles will sing the National Anthem at the game on Sunday. We should go to hear him.
- SINGULAR and PLURAL – In most cases, when the subject is singular, the verb is pluralized. When the verb represents two or more subjects, its form becomes singular.
Important note: Linking verbs such as: am, is, are, was, were, do not following this rule, and instead, agree with the subject in number and predicate – singular subject/singular verb – compound subjects/pluralized verb.
a) Plural – Compound subjects (two or more subjects—nouns, pronouns, or clauses) connected by ‘and’ taking on a plural predicate, will use a singular verb, *unless they refer to the same subject.
· My parents and my wife recommend that I have an attorney present.
· My friend and mentor recommends that I have an attorney review the contract first. *(referring to one and the same person)
· The building and equipment are covered under this insurance policy.
–> Subjects taking on a singular predicate, take on a plural verb.
· The baby cries whenever its mother leaves the room.
· Sally always eats her lunch at her desk.
–> Subjects connected by or or nor take a singular verb.
· Either Spanish or French is acceptable as your second language.
· Neither John nor his lawyer is worried about the judge’s decision.
c) Singular & Plural Together - When two subjects differing in number are connected by either-or or neither-nor and one of the subjects is plural, it should be placed second and the verb should agree with it in number.
· (Correct) Neither the owner nor the employees are satisfied with the latest agreement proposed at the bargaining table.
· (Incorrect) Neither the employees nor the owner is satisfied with the latest agreement proposed at the bargaining table.
- Nouns placed between a verb and its subject - A verb should always agree with its subject, and not with a noun placed between the verb and its subject.
Examples: (subject underlined)
· The report on the number of casualties caused by the tornado has just been updated.
· A list of the victims was released earlier today.
- Phrases or Clauses connected by: “together with,” “as well as,” “in addition to” are not part of the subject affecting the number of subjects and, therefore, do not affect the verb.
Examples: (subject underlined)
· Our local team, as well as other league teams, was affected by the negative press from the media covering the negotiations.
· The problem with increasing entrance fees, in addition to the poor enrollment numbers, was discussed by the committee.
- Subjects of quantity, distance and time – Are thought of as a unit and the verb should be singular.
· Fifteen dollars is still due on your account.
· Twelve kilometers is a long way to run.
· Twenty years is a long time to work at one job.
- Collective subjects – Collective nouns are those that name groups of persons, animals, or things. Board, committee, herd, flock, furniture. Such nouns may be regarded as plural or singular.
Plural – if the word denotes the individuals that make up the group
Singular – if the word denotes the group acting as an individual
· The board has made a decision to expand nationally.
· The jury couldn’t agree and were divided on a verdict.
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