The subject and verb of a sentence must agree in person and in number. A single and simple sentence may not have faulty agreement, but in a more complicated complex sentence, certain problems in agreement may arise:
when the word order is unusual
e.g. Sitting on the sofa was five teenagers (incorrect).
e.g. Sitting on the sofa were five teenagers (correct). (Five teenagers were sitting on the sofa.)
when the sentence contains more than one subject
e.g. Swimming and cycling are good sports for you .(correct)
e.g. Bread and butter is good for breakfast (correct). (“Bread” and “butter” are considered one common subject, and therefore a singular verb is used, instead of a plural one.)
when the sentence contains indefinite pronouns
e.g. Each of the students is going to bring his or her own lunch (correct: “each” is the subject, and not “students”).
e.g. One of us is going to win the prize (correct).
e.g. All of us are going to the picnic (correct).
e.g. None of them is interested in the game (correct).
e.g. Everyone is included in the dinner (correct).
when the subject may be a collective noun
e.g. The committee is meeting today (correct: the whole group).
e.g. The committee are unable to come to a unanimous decision (correct: all the members of the committee).
when the sentence contains such phrases as “as well as”. “together with” and “in addition to”
e.g. The man, as well as his family, is flying to
tomorrow (correct). Vancouver
e.g. The man and his family are moving in this afternoon (correct).
e.g. This new evidence, together with the evidence the police have found, is proof that you committed the crime (correct).
e.g. This box, in addition to the one I sent you yesterday, has to be put away (correct).
when the sentence contains such phrases as “either or” and “neither nor”
e.g. Either you or I am going to the party (correct).
e.g. Either the boy or the girls are right (correct).
e.g. Either the boys or the girl is right (correct).
e.g. Neither you nor he is invited (correct).
e.g. Neither of us are coming (correct).
when the sentence contains such phrases as “here is”. “here are”, “there is”and “there are”
e.g. Here is your book (correct).
e.g. There is only one person in the room (correct).
e.g. There were two guns found (correct).
e.g. There was a huge crowd of demonstrators on the street (correct).
Copyright© by Stephen Lau