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Use of Verbs


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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    b)     Singular
       > 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.

    1. 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.

    2. Phrases or Clauses connected by: “together with,” “as well as,” “in addition toare 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.   

    3. 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.

    4. 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. 
      – 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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