I never made a mistake in grammar but once in my life and as soon as I done it I seen it.
Why write a blog post on subject/verb agreement? The rule seems simple enough: Use a singular verb for a singular subject, right?
When you consider compound subjects, collective nouns, and contractions, it may not seem quite so simple. These rules and examples will help you get an idea of how it works.
1. Two singular subjects that contain or, nor, either, neither, either/or, and neither/nor require singular verbs:
- My mom or my aunt drives to the airport to drop off my uncle.
- Neither my brother nor my father cares to go to the airport.
- Either my sister or Mary rents a big car.
2. When a compound subject uses or, nor, either/or, or neither/nor and has both a singular and plural subject, look at the subject nearest the verb to determine the type of verb:
- The dress or shirts need to be packed in the green suitcase.
- Neither the pants nor the handkerchief is put in the black suitcase.
3. Two or more subjects (either plural or singular) using and need a plural verb:
- The green suitcase and the carry-on bags go inside the plane.
- Stewards and stewardesses know how to help you with the overhead luggage.
4. Pronouns like each, everyone, everybody, anybody, someone, somebody, and every one, are singular and call for singular verbs:
- Each of the passengers notice the non-smoking sign.
- In almost every flight, somebody tries to smoke in the bathroom.
- Everyone gets mad when that happens.
5. If a phrase describes portions—all, some, none, part, percent, etc.—look at the object of the preposition to see if it’s plural or singular to determine the verb:
- Two-thirds of the plane is full.
- Forty-two percent of the stewardesses are already in the plane.
- Half of the passengers are in the first fifteen rows.
6. Here and there are considered adverbs, so when the sentence begins with these words, check the subject and verb to make sure they are the same:
- There are two passengers that have the same seat number.
- Here is one seat with two passengers vying for it.
7. Always use a singular verb when either or neither are the subjects:
- Neither of them wants to sleep.
- Either of us is able to let them have the seat.
8. Ignore phrases between the subject and the verb; they don’t have anything to do with the subject/verb agreement:
- Uncle Bob, accompanied by his noisy children, has the headset on throughout the entire flight.
- The stewards, but not the pilot, like today’s movie.
9. When referring to money or time, utilize singular verbs:
- Two hours of flying in circles to wait for landing is hard on most passengers.
- Fifteen hundred dollars is the average price for this flight.
10. A sentence that employs a number has a plural verb, whereas the number is singular:
- A number of passengers feel the pilot did a good job.
- The number of helpful airport employees increases annually.
Keep these tips in mind as you write and carefully check them when you edit. Remember, readers will pay more attention to and get more out of materials that are as professional as possible.