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Verb and subject agreement

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In English the verb must always agree with the subject in a sentence.

Is/are                          My friend is amusing           My friends are amusing.
Was/were                  John was late.                      They were late.
Has/have                   He has a good job.               They have good jobs.
Does/do                     Does she like her job?        Do they like their jobs?
Present simple         My sister loves shopping.   My sisters love shopping.
That/those                 That pie looks tasty.             Those pies look tasty.
This/these                 This book is interesting.      These books are interesting.

However with some words or phrases this can be tricky:

There/here/where is/are

In expressions like ‘There are the shops’, the subject (shops) comes after the verb. This must still agree with the verb.
Here is the book you asked me for.
Here are the books you asked me for.

There is a policeman at the door.
There are two policemen at the door.


After every we use a singular noun and verb.
Every dog has his day.
Every individual has the right to a good education.


With none it is correct to use both a singular or plural verb.
None of them are coming to the party.
None of them is coming to the party.

A lot of

If a lot of refers to a plural then is requires a plural verb; if a singular then use a singular verb.
A lot of the spectators were disappointed by the result.
A lot of time is wasted commuting from home to work.

One of the/more than one

Use a singular verb with one of the and also with more than one even though the meaning is plural.
One of the neighbours in these flats is German.
There is more than one way of doing this.

The – of the

In this expression the subject is the first noun and the verb agrees with this. Look at these examples:
The results of the survey were interesting.
The decision of the board members was interesting.

It can be tricky when the subject and the verb are not next to each other:
The results of the survey on spending habits of young married couples were interesting.
The decision of the board members to employ a C.E.O. who has never worked in IT was interesting.

Lesson by Tristan, English teacher at EC Malta English school

Now choose the correct verb for the following:

  • 1) Where __ the manual for this laptop?

  • 2) Everything __ ready for the party.

  • 3) There __ two ways of looking at this situation.

  • 4) A lot of money __ spent on the new football stadium.

  • 5) We know more than one person who __ abroad.

  • 6) The choice of the producers to select an inexperienced director for the film __ criticised.

  • 7) One of the passengers involved in the accident __ seriously injured.

  • 8) Every Bond film __ a success.

  • 9) A lot of my friends __ Jazz.

  • 10) There __ three books of hers that were made into films.