Thursday, January 10, 2013

Subject/Verb Agreement

In a previous post we talked about tricky cases of subject/verb agreement. Here are some more:

Singular pronouns require singular verbs, no matter what follows the pronoun

Another, anybody, anyone, anything, either, everyone, neither, no one, nobody, somebody, someone are all singular, and are hence  followed by a singular verb.

Each of the students has brought a morning snack.

Neither of the brothers is willing to make peace.

Theoretically, "none" must always be followed by a singular verb

Despite the movement of the plain, none of the passengers was frightened. 

Yet many grammarians believe that we should follow current usage. We can, therefore, use the plural in certain cases. According to Strunk and White, for instance, if "none" means "no one" or "not one" (not a single one), the verb is singular:

None of the children has played with the ball today. 

If the focus is on the group and "none" means "not any," then the verb is plural:

None of the students are carrying their backpacks today. 
Expressions introduced by "as well as," "including," "in addition to," "along with," and "together with" in compound subjects should be written between commas and do not determine the number of the verb. The latter must agree with the noun that is not part of the expression.

Lisa, along with her mother and sisters, goes shopping every Saturday.

And the last one for today: Nouns that are plural in form but singular in meaning require singular verbs. Some examples are mathematics, demographics, and dynamics.

The dynamics of their relationship changes constantly.

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