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The term Concord refers to the relationship between the subject and verb. The subject of a sentence may be a noun, a pronoun, or a group of words acting as a noun. The subject may be plural or singular. Also, if the subject is a pronoun, it may be first person, second person or third person. Whatever be the subject, the verb in the sentence must always agree with the subject in number and person.

The general rule is that a singular subject should take a singular verb, and a plural subject should take a plural verb.

    • Cows give milk.
    • A cow gives milk.
    • She writes every day.
    • They write every day.

The verb takes its number of the complement of it is/ it was.

    • It is my friend who has done it.
    • It was they who were doing this.
    • It is they who know this.
    • It is you who are doing this.

When the subject of the sentence is composed of two or more nouns or pronouns connected by and, use a plural verb.

    • Suresh and Seema are cousins.
    • Gold and silver are precious metals.
    • Sen, Ben and Jane have come.
    • John and I are friends.

Each, every, anyone, everyone, someone, no one, nobody, everybody, either, neither, many a, more than one take a singular verb.

    • Everyone is happy here.
    • Somebody has left her purse.
    • Neither of the two was present.
    • Many a player has done this before.

Singular subjects joined by or, nor, either . . . or, neither. . . nor take a singular verb; if the subjects are plural, the verb should be plural. When one of the subjects is joined by either…or/neither…nor is plural, the plural subject comes near the verb, and the verb is plural.

    • Either the man or his wife knows the truth of the matter.
    • Either he or I am successful.
    • Either she or her parents are coming.
    • Neither he nor I am going to be rewarded.
    • Neither money nor power was important any longer.
    • Neither tea nor snacks were available there.

Each of, every one of, either of, neither of, one of, not one of is followed by plural nouns, but the verb is singular.

    • Each of the girls has scored good marks.
    • Either of the girls has scored good marks.
    • One of the boys has scored good marks.
    • Not one of the boys has scored good marks.

When regarded as a unit, collective nouns, as well as noun phrases denoting quantity, take singular verbs, and as plural when the members are taken into consideration.

    • The whole family is active.
    • The family have met their various obligations.
    • The jury is meeting today.
    • The jury were divided on the issue.
    • The clergy is not to blame.
    • The clergy are against the new law.

In sentences beginning with an introductory there, the subject follows the verb. Since there is not the subject, the verb agrees with the noun that follows it.

    • There are four legs in the nest.
    • There is one egg in the nest.
    • There were a number of people in the club.
    • There was a lot of noise in the room.

Some words end in -s and appear to be plural but are really singular and require singular verbs. On the other hand, some words ending in -s refer to a single thing but are nonetheless plural and require a plural verb.

    • Economics is an interesting subject.
    • The economics of today require this change.
    • My assets were wiped out in the depression.
    • The average worker’s earnings have gone up dramatically.

With words that indicate portions like a lot of, lots of, plenty of, most of, a majority, some of, all of are singular when followed by uncountable nouns and plural when followed by countable nouns.

    • A lot of the pie has disappeared.
    • A lot of the pies have disappeared.
    • Lots of/A lot of water has overflowed the tank.
    • All of the pie is gone.
    • All of the pies are gone.
    • Some of the pie is missing.
    • Some of the pies are missing.

When two nouns are connected by such words as along with, with, as well as, besides, not, together with, accompanied by, as much as, rather than, in the company of, etc., the verb must agree with the first noun.

    • The politician, along with the newsmen, is expected shortly.
    • The robber, together with his gang, was captured.
    • Excitement, as well as nervousness, is the cause of her shaking.
    • The Minister, with all his staff, is attending the function.
    • The mayor, as well as his brothers, is going to prison.
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δάσκαλος (dáskalos) means the teacher in Greek. Devika Panikar has been teaching English Language and Literature since 2006. She is an Assistant Professor with the Directorate of Collegiate Education under the Government of Kerala. She teaches at the Government Colleges coming under this directorate and is now posted at the Department of English, Government College for Women, Thiruvananthapuram. This website is a collection of the lecture notes that she prepared by referring to various sources, for her students’ perusal. It has been compiled here for the sake of future generations.

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