Only the subject affects the verb. The subject and the verb must match each other: if the subject is singular, the verb is singular; and if the subject is plural, the verb is plural.

 

Singular subject and singular verb

 

Examples:

  • My uncle has bushy eyebrows.
  • She eats a lot of Belgian chocolate.

 

Plural subject and plural verb

 

Examples:

  • They run down the road.
  • The children have very loving parents.
 

The verb does not agree with the noun next to it

The verb agrees with the subject and NOT with the noun next to it.

 

Examples:

  • Each of the boys flies a kite.
    (Do not use the plural verb fly just because the noun boys next to it is plural. This is because the word boys is not the subject. The subject in the sentence is each.)
  • Every one of the girls was stung by at least a bee.
    (The subject one is singular and the past tense verb used is the sinbular was. Do not use were as the word girls is not the subject.)
  • Many of the girls were stung by bees. 
    (The plural word many matches the plural verb were.)

 

 

Examples:

  • Each of the boys flies a kite.
  • (Do not use the plural verb fly just because the noun boys next to it is plural. This is because the word boys is not the subject. The subject in the sentence is each.)

  • Every one of the girls was stung by at least a bee.

    (The subject one is singular and the past tense verb used is the singular was. Do not use were as the word girls is not the subject.)

  • Many of the girls were stung by bees.

    (The plural word many matches the plural verb were.)

 

Often, there are words between the subject and the verb. These words do not affect the verb. Concentrate on the subject to see if it is singular or plural and use a singular or plural verb to  agree with it. 

Examples:

  • Incorrect: Her bouquet of flowers are a birthday present.
  • Correct: Her bouquet of flowers is a birthday present.

(The word bouquet which is part of the noun phrase bouquet of flowers is the singular subject of the sentence. and it must be matched with a singular verb is.)

  • Incorrect: The man with two briefcases are heading for the airport.
  • Correct: The man with two briefcases is heading for the airport.
  • Incorrect: The instruction to the boys were not clear.
  • Correct: The instruction to the boys was not clear.
  • Incorrect: One of the bears are a female.
  • Correct: One of the bears is a female..
  • Incorrect: The thieves who stole the money has escaped.
  • Correct: The thieves who stole the money have escaped.
  • Incorrect: The cost of building materials have gone up.
  • Correct: The cost of building materials has gone up.