Over the previous sections, we have learned to define and identify the subject of a clause. In this and the following sections, we will learn the various rules and exceptions that govern the agreement between a subject and the verb.
Let us begin with the basic case of simple subjects. The subject is formed by a noun or pronoun, and we know that every noun/pronoun can fall under one of the following three categories: singular, plural, and uncountable. The following examples illustrate the application of this basic principle for simple subjects.
Once this basic principle is established, we decide the number property of the subject – whether the subject is singular, plural, or uncountable. The following subsections and the other four SVA categories provide a systematic approach to classify a subject into one of these three possibilities.
Either and neither are singular and hence take a singular verb.
Each and every are both singular. This is true even in phrases such as “each and every x”, which is still treated as singular. The emphasis is on individual elements.
These three phrases are followed by plural nouns, but the phrase as a whole is singular. Hence the verb is singular too.
However, the phrase they each is treated as plural.
The following pronouns are singular: everyone, everything, everybody, no one, nothing, nobody, someone, something, somebody, anyone, anybody, anything, another, one, less, and little
The following indefinite pronouns are plural and hence take plural verbs: both, few, many, several, and others
The following indefinite pronouns can be either singular or plural: none, all, any, more, most, some, and such. Each of these pronouns can be used in singular or plural when used by itself. When followed by of-phrases, the verb can be singular or plural depending on the number of the noun (the object of the of-phrase).