Answers: Subject-verb agreement 02

1. Either of the two boys have the ability to make the team.

Words such as none, anyone, everybody, each, either, neither and one are singular when used as subjects in a sentence. In this case, either is the subject of the sentence, not boys. The verb “have” is incorrect; it should be “has.”

2. The committee members meet once a month to try to determine the policies of the organization.

This sentence has a plural subject, members, and there it must take the plural form of the verb. Remember that unlike most nouns, most verbs taken their plural form by adding an “s.”

3. The babies in the nursery, and one in particular, was crying for some attention.

The subject in this sentence is babies, but the verb, was, is singular. The verb should be were.

4. The politics of the committee were such that no one could be elected chair of the group.

Some words can be either singular or plural depending on their context. The writer must decide which is the proper use. Politics is one of those words. Here the writer is referring to a variety of situations that constitute the workings of the group.

5. A bizarre series of incidents has surrounded that old house lately.

Despite its plural form, the word “series” is a singular noun. The verb should be “has” rather than “have.”

6. The president jogged by the group of tourists who were gaping out the window of the bus.

In this sentence, the phrase “who were gaping out the wind of the bus” is a dependent clause, but it contains the subject “who.” The question is, to what does the “who” refer – the “group” or the “tourists.” In this case, it is the “tourists;” consequently, the “who” should take a plural verb.

7. A wide variety of strategic reasons have been used to explain Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo.

The subject of this sentence is “variety,” a singular noun. The verb should also be singular – “has,” rather than “have.”

8. Incidents of alcohol abuse account for many traffic fatalities each year.

The subject of this sentence, “Incidents,” requires the plural form of the verb, “account.”

9. Few of the senators were on hand for the vote.

The word “few,” even though singular in appearance, is considered a plural and should take a plural verb. Few refers to the individuals in a group rather than to a group itself.

10. The most resilient among the war’s survivors were the children.

In this sentence “resilient” is an adjective that appears to be replacing some noun – possibly “survivors” – as the subject of the sentence. Whatever the noun, it is obviously plural, and consequently, the verb should also be plural.

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Jim Stovall, a retired journalism prof, is now a novelist, self publisher, watercolorist, gardener, woodworker and beekeeper -- among others things.

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