Agreement in English grammar means that sentence parts match. The Subjects of the sentences must agree with verbs, and pronouns must agree with antecedents. Else, the sentences will sound awkward and may confuse the listeners and readers. Hence, proper care should be taken while preparing sentences.
Agreement of sentences parts refers to agreement between the following:
1) Between the subject and verb.
2) Between pronouns and antecedent.
Agreement between subject and verb:
The rules mentioned here below determine the agreement in English sentences. These are the main aspects one must follow while writing sentences. Though these seem simple, it is likely that without enough practice, one commits mistakes often in their usage.
1) The basic rule of sentence agreement is simple. It is that the subject should agree with its verb. Also must agree with its verb in number. Number refers either singular or plural.
- A singular subject is used to refer one person, place, thing, or idea.
- A plural subject refers more than one person, place, thing, or idea.
2) A singular subject must always have a singular verb. This follows the above rule.
Example: I’m waiting for arrival for 10 days. (Both subject and verb singular).
Education is only the matter of self-discipline. (Both subject and verb singular).
The news is out by the next day. (Subject and verb singular, do notice that ‘news’ is singular)
3) A plural subject must always have a plural verb.
Example: They are waiting for arrival for 10 days. (Both subject and verb plural)
The books are only sold in packs of ten. (Both subject and verb plural)
4) Here are rules pertaining to the usage of indefinite pronouns along with verbs.
- Singular indefinite pronouns always take a singular verb.
- Plural indefinite pronouns always take a plural verb.
The below chart shows singular and plural indefinite pronouns.
|Singular||Plural||Singular or Plural|
|Another ,anybody ,anyone, anything, each, either, everyone, everyone, everybody, everything, little, many a, much, neither, nobody, no one, nothing, one, other, somebody
|Both ,few, many ,others, several||All, any, more, most, none, some|
Problems in Agreement
Though the rules for agreement are straightforward, some problems do arise. Here are the two most challenging ones: hard-to-find subjects and intervening phrases.
1. Identify hard-to-find subjects.
In some cases, finding the subjects becomes hard. Sentences in which Subjects that come before the verb are especially tricky. However, the subject must still agree in number with its verb.
In the last of the list are two friends.
Plural subject- two friends
Plural verb – are
2. Ignore the intervening phrases.
Always disregard words or phrases that come between the subject and the verb in case of checking the agreement between the subject and verb. Because, the phrase or clause that comes between a subject and its verb can not affect subject-verb agreement.
Example: The captain of the team stands at the door of the Palace.
Captain- Singular subject
Of the team- phrase
Stands – singular verb.