Concord refers to an agreement between two grammatical units. So, subject-verb concord refers to the agreement of the subject and the verb. The subject of a sentence is a noun, pronoun, group of nouns or a group of words acting as a noun. The subject may be plural or singular. If it is a pronoun, the subject may be first, second or third person.
If the subject is plural the verb must be plural.
If the subject is a pronoun, the verb must be in the same person as the pronoun.
- The brothers are here.
- He loves art.
There are different rules of subject-verb concord. Let us take a look at what they are. In the case of pronouns, the third person singular (he, she, it) takes singular verbs in all tenses.
- He works very hard.
- She has gone to London.
The rules for subject-verb concord of persons are the following :
- The first person plural “we” takes a plural verb in all tenses.
- The second “you” takes a plural verb in all tenses, even when it is singular.
- The third person plural “they” takes a plural verb in all tenses.
- We ate our meal.
- We laeve today.
- You are coming with us.
- They mer on the beach.
- They wander the streets at night.
There is a different rule however, for first person singular “I”. “I” takes a singular verb with “am”, “am going” and “was” but takes a plural verb when we say “I go” or “I have gone”.
- I am going to the market.
- I have gone to the market.
Where the sentence begins with “there”, the verb must agree with the real subject that follows it.
- There is no way out.
- There are only two chairs left.
Nouns denoting food, clothing, furniture and stationery are singular. So they take a singular verb. And when we say, “a pair of …” we use a singular verb.
- The furniture is old.
- A pair of black pants is essential.
When used for quantity, “a lot of”, “plenty of” take a singular verb. However, when quantity is given, both these take a plural verb. “News” is always in the singular.
- A lot of time has been wasted.
- Plenty of kids are going for the picnic.
- This is great news!
If there are two subjects in a sentence, the verb will be plural. If the two subjects express one idea, then they take the singular verb. And if the subject and verb are separated by a group of words, the verb must agree with the subject.
- Randa and Debby are best friends.
- Dal and rice is my staple meal.
- The boy with the pile of books is my little brother.
When the name of a country, a book or a film is denoted in a plural noun, it still takes a singular verb.
Collective nouns takes singular or plural nouns depending on their use in the sentence. Nouns like herd, class, crowd, etc. which refer to a group as a whole usually take a singular verb.
Nouns like people, police and cattle which refer to individuals of a group are always in the plural.
- Chronicles of Narnia is my favourite movie.
- The crows was out of control.
- The cattle are grazing in the meadow.