AGREEMENT

AGREEMENT

Today we will discuss something called agreement. Can you guess what that means? In this English lesson, I will explain the meaning of the term agreement and list some rules you need to learn to perfect your knowledge of English.

When using English nouns, you need to pay attention to the verbs you are using them with. Whether the verb is in plural or singular depends on the noun used. So, the verb needs to agree with the noun, hence the term agreement. Agreement is also sometimes called ‘concord’.

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We already mentioned two types of agreement:

1.      Uncountable nouns take singular verbs.

Wood is a type of material.

2.      There is agreement when we use a present-tense verb in the third person.

The room is empty.

The rooms are empty.

** With a past-tense verb, there is agreement only with the verb to be.

The vase was broken.

The vases were broken.

There are also other types of agreement, and in some cases, it is difficult to decide if a subject is singular or plural. Here are some basic points about singular and plural subjects and when to use singular and plural verbs.

SINGULAR AND PLURAL SUBJECTS

Here are some typical cases when certain words dictate the use of singular or plural verbs:

AND

  • When and is used to link two or more phrases, the verb is in plural.

Jack and Jill are going to the mall later today.

 

When the two phrases linked together are seen as a single idea, then you use a singular verb.

Bread and butter was all we had. (= bread with butter on it)

 

  • A phrase with and in brackets usually takes a singular verb.

Jack (and of course my other friends) is going to the party.


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APPOSITION

  • A phrase in apposition does not make the subject plural.

Jack, my lovely friend, enjoys hiking.

OR

  • When two phrases are linked by or, the verb usually agrees with the nearest.

Either Friday or Saturday is fine with me.

 

PHRASE OF MEASUREMENT

  • We use a singular verb with a phrase of measurement.

Twenty miles is too far for us to walk. – Here we are talking about a distance of twenty miles, not the individual miles.

 

TITLES AND NAMES

  • When they refer to one thing, titles and names take a singular verb.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was a very successful film.

 

  •  Plural place names referring to a single country usually take a singular verb.

The United States is a member of NATO.

 

  • We use a plural verb with the name of an island group, except when talking about the group as a political unit, then we can use both a singular and a plural verb.

The Maldives lie in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

The Maldives is/are a nation-state

 

AS WELL AS / WITH

  • With as well as or with we use a singular verb.

Jack, as well as my other friends, is going to the party.

Jack, together with my other friends, is going to the party.

 

NOT ONLY…BUT ALSO

  • After not only…but also the verb agrees with the nearest phrase.

Not only Jack but also some of my other friends are going to the party.

Not only Rose but also Jack himself is going to the party.

 

WHAT / WHICH

  • After what/which + noun, the verb agrees with the noun.

What/which day is convenient for you?

What/which days are convenient for you?

 

  • When there is no noun after which, the verb can be singular of plural.

Which of you is willing to go to the mall with me? (Which one?)

Which of you are willing to go to the mall with me? (Which ones?)

 

FRACTION or PERCENTAGE

  • After a fraction or percentage, the verb agrees with the noun.

Fifty percent of our body is water.

Almost half the houses were destroyed by a hurricane.

 

THERE

  • After there, the verb agrees with its complement.

There was a cat lying on the couch.

There were two cats lying on the couch.

 

That’s it! In the next blog post I will go through some specific groups of nouns and their agreement with verbs, so stay tuned for more! :)

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