Archive for September 2011

Subject/Verb Agreement Part Three

September 26, 2011


Words such as each, neither, anyone, everyone, no one, none, everybody, nobody–each of these is (not are) singular in idea, even though each refers to someone or something singled out from a crowd. These words are ALWAYS singular. Give all of them singular verbs. For example:

Everybody here wants to learn more about grammar.

No one from England drives on the right side of the road. (we hope)

Note, however, that the following pronouns–all, some, most, any, more–may be singular or plural, depending on the meaning of the sentence. For example:

Most of the players are injured. (plural)

All of the hem is torn.          (singular)


Collective nouns have a singular form and refer to a group of people or things. The following are examples of collective nouns:

audience, class, majority, committee, family, faculty, crew, team, jury.

i) Collective nouns take a singular verb when the noun refers to the group as a single unit.

My baseball team is still in contention for the playoffs.

ii) Collective nouns, however, take a plural verb when the noun refers to the members of the group functioning individually.

The team have agreed among themselves to go on strike.

If, however, you find this last example awkward, add an extra word to make things easier for yourself. For example:

The team members have agreed among themselves to go on strike.


1. All of the figure skaters (glide/glides) smoothly across the ice.

2. Everybody on the fourth and fifth floors (was/were) questioned by the police inspector.

3. Everyone, including the servants of the house, (believe/believes) the butler did it.

4. The nuclear family (is/are) the fundamental unit of society.

5. Your department (pride/prides) itself on a high degree of efficiency.

6. The budget committee (fight/fights) among themselves continually.

To be continued…