English Notes » Agreement
Making Words Agree
I. Subject/Verb Agreement
A. The verb in a sentence should match in number to the subject of the sentence. If the subject is singular, the verb should be singular. Conversely, if the subject is plural, the verb should be plural.
B. A compound subject joined by and is usually plural and must have a plural verb. Exceptions are as follows:
1. When the compound subject equals one thing, a singular verb should be used. (Example: Chicken and rice is my favorite dish.)
2. When the word each or every is used before the compound subject. (Example: Each student and teacher is committed to learning.)
C. Two or more singular subjects joined by or or nor must have a singular verb.
D. When there is a compound subject and one subject is singular and the other is plural AND they are joined by or or nor, the verb should agree with the subject closer to it. Examples are as follows:
Either Cathy or the boys are going skiing this weekend.
Either the boys or Cathy is going skiing this weekend.
II. Pronoun/Antecedent Agreement
A. A personal pronoun must agree with its antecedent in both person and number.
B. Use a singular pronoun to refer to two or more singular pronouns joined by or or nor. When a compound antecedent is joined by and, a plural personal pronoun is used.
C. Plural indefinite pronouns: both, few, many, several, others
D. Singular/plural indefinite pronouns: all, any, most, none, some
(Note: You'll need to analyze the context of the sentence to determine if the pronoun is singular or plural. Many times there will be a prepositional phrase after the pronoun. If the OP is singular, then the pronoun is singular. The opposite of this is true. Remember, though, that this rule only works for the following words: all, any, most, none, some.
E. Singular indefinite pronouns: anybody, anyone, anything, another, everybody, everyone, everything, each, either, neither, no one, nothing, one, somebody, someone, something
Mrs. Stluka's Web Site
P.O. Drawer 804
510 CR 348
Shiner, TX 77984