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English language Resources

Verb Agreement

Agreement is the determination of the inflectional form of one word according to a grammatical feature, such as number or gender, of another word.

For example, the highlighted verbs agree with the number of the subject in the following sentences:

Bill and Hillary are coming for dinner.

We sing. He sings.

A collective noun used as subject is treated as singular when referring to the group as a unit:

The jury determines the verdict.

The crowd is out of kleenex.

A collective noun is treated as plural when referring to individual members of the group:

A number of people were very outspoken on the issue.

Words ending in '-ics' that refer to a body of knowledge, a science, or an art are usually considered singular.

Words ending in -ics that refer to qualities or physical qualities are usually considered plural:

Aeronautics acrobatics
civics tactics
physics athletics

Words such as 'politics', 'acoustics', and 'ethics' can be either singular or plural, according to the sense intended.

Be careful not to have a verb agree with an expression that is not the subject of the verb. The subjects and the verbs are highlighted the following sentences:

A personal computer such as a Windows Compatible or an Apple MacIntosh provides a great tool for writers.

The computer is one of the new developments that can often (but not always) make life easier.