Introduction to Compound Subjects and Verbs
While studying English grammar, you're likely to come across the concept of compound subjects and the verbs they employ. These grammatical elements can significantly affect the structure and meaning of a sentence. In this tutorial, we will delve into the details of compound subjects and the verbs, providing examples and rules to further increase your understanding.
What is a Compound Subject?
A compound subject comprises two or more simple subjects that have the same predicate. The subjects are usually connected by conjunctions, most commonly 'and' or 'or'.
Example of Compound Subjects:
- Tom and Jerry are playing.
- Ice cream or cake is available for dessert.
Types of Compound Subjects
There are essentially two types of compound subjects based on the conjunctions used. These are 'and' subjects and 'or'/'nor' subjects.
'And' Compound Subjects
A compound subject that consists of two or more subjects connected by the conjunction 'and' is known as an 'and' compound subject.
- Susan and Bob are going to the park.
- The cat, the dog, and the hamster are all pets.
'Or'/'Nor' Compound Subjects
When a compound subject comprises of two or more subjects connected by 'or' or 'nor', it's known as an 'or'/'nor' compound subject.
- Neither Tom nor Jerry is studying for the test.
- Pizza or spaghetti makes a suitable meal.
Compound Subjects and the Verbs
The fundamental concern about compound subjects pertains to the verb form used. Specifically, should a compound subject take a singular or plural verb?
Rules for Use of Verbs with Compound Subjects
There are two primary rules to consider while using verbs with compound subjects:
Rule 1: 'And' Compound Subjects
When the subjects are connected by 'and', they are typically plural (unless they're alluding to the same person or thing) and, therefore, the verb ought to be in plural form too.
- Nick and Sara are traveling to Paris. (Here, Nick and Sara are two different people, hence a plural verb is used.)
- My best friend and business partner is relocating. (Here, the best friend and business partner refer to the same person, hence a singular verb is used.)
Rule 2: 'Or'/'Nor' Compound Subjects
When the compound subject is attached by 'or' or 'nor', the verb should agree with the subject closest to it. In other words, it's plural if the nearest subject is plural and singular if the nearest subject is singular.
- Neither Jack nor his friends are coming to the party. (Here, 'friends' are closest to 'are', hence a plural verb is used.)
- Neither the managers nor the boss is available. (Here, 'boss' is closest to 'is', hence a singular verb is used.)
In certain cases, when the subjects are joined by yet, but, and while, it still holds true to consider them as a single subject commanding a singular verb.
- The manager, not the assistants, is responsible for the setup.
Remember, understanding compound subjects and their corresponding verbs helps eliminate common grammatical errors, thus allowing you to write more comprehensively and accurately. Differentiating singular and plural verbs based on the type of compound subjects is the key to mastering this grammar concept.