And the wolf behowls the moon;
Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,
All with weary task fordone,
Now the wasted brands do glow,
Whilst the screeching-owl, screeching loud,
Puts the wretch that lies in woe,
In remembrance of the shroud.
Now it is the time of night - A Midsummer Night’s Dream-William Shakespeare
Its 12:02 a.m. of the 17th Day of May 2007 and I’m sitting in my room, listening to the song ‘Starry-starry night’ by Don McLean and wondering why verbs and subjects disagree… It’s raining outside and the sound of the drizzle and the smell of the earth is mesmerizing me. The blank screen of my notebook is enticing me to pen down a few nothings….
All you paramours of language, today, in this beautiful night, I am going to make verbs agree with their subjects. Here are my proposals for the marital peace of subjects and their verbs.
Main Proposal: Let plural subjects take plural verbs and singular subjects roam about with singular verbs.
Proposal 1:- When two or more nouns are present, ask the verb to agree with its proper subject instead of the noun near it.
The quality of language in British books is outstanding.
All the books on the rack are the law books.
Proposal 2:- Some nouns are plural by nature and like to be with plural verbs. Following are the names of these famous nouns-
Savings, thanks, surroundings, riches, goods, outskirts, belongings, particulars, premises, clothes, earnings, congratulations, people, police and staff.
Proposal 3:- When the verb is holding hands with two or more subjects and wearing either…or or neither…nor, use a singular verb if the last subject is singular and a plural verb if the last subject is plural.
Neither Levin nor Kitty wants to live in a city.
Either John Galt or his representatives are to stop the motor of the world.
Either nurses or the doctor is responsible for the wrong operation.
Proposal 4:- When two bachelor (singular) subjects are joined by spinster ‘and’, they form a pair (plural)
Dolly and Oblonsky were the first one to arrive.
Bob and Roger are playing a guitar.
Proposal 5:- Listen to what nouns suggest, if they suggest one idea to the mind, or refer to same person or thing, then the verb would rather stay single.
Bread and butter is kept in the refrigerator.
Time and tide waits for none.
Proposal 6:- Be cautious with the following-
Everyone, no one, anybody, somebody, everything, each and every, each of, neither of, the majority of, all of, some of and uncountable nouns.
All of food is stolen.
Knock! Knock! Is anybody there?
Proposal 7:- Economics, civics, statistics, news, mathematics, wages, linguistics, phonetics, politics etc are plural in form but singular in meaning and take a singular verb.
Mathematics is TG’s passion.
Politics is the major part of the corporate world.
Proposal 8:- When there is a group of nouns (Collective nouns), a singular verb should be brought into action. When the individuals of this group are addressed, we would like to use plural verbs.
The crowd is maddening.
The population of Japan is on its life time low this year.
Proposal 9:- When noun denotes some specific quantity or amount considered as a whole, we should agree on a singular verb.
One-fourth of the work is completed by William.
The five thousand yen that he gave me was spent in a single day.
Proposal 10:- There are outsiders (words and phrases) besides 'and' that attach themselves to the subject and make it look plural but the subject still stays the same. These are the famous intruders -as well as, accompanied by, including, along with, in addition to and together with. So verbs, be careful!
Leonidas, along with his 300 Spartans, is going to fight against the Persian army.
Books, as well as music, are my passion.
Proposal 11:- When the subject is commanding, ordering, or suggesting — ‘you’, the person being directed by the subject has to disappear. (Subject expects itself to be understood)
(You) Listen to the sound of the music!
(You) Suggest a plan for the month.
Proposal 12:- Both subject and verb give special preference to ‘None’. None can be treated as both singular and plural until someone else in the crowd doesn’t recognise its number.
None of the men are ready for the war,
None of the men is ready for the war.
None of the dancers have given their best. (Here you can’t use singular because the word ‘their’ precludes the use of the singular verb.)
Proposal 13:- Sometimes nouns are playing tricks with you. They can beguile you into thinking they are plural when they are not. Nouns such as pants, pliers, glasses and scissors are regarded as plural (and prefer being with plural verbs) unless they're preceded by the phrase pair of, so be careful!
The scissors are lying on the table.
A pair of scissors is lying on the table.
Proposal 14:- If the sentence is giving both positive and negative vibes, the verb will respond only to the subject giving positive vibes..
It is not Cynthia but her sisters who are married.
It was the subject of the movie, not the actors, that has charmed the audience.
Now after being proposed in fourteen different ways, the verbs will find it difficult not to agree with their subjects.
Its 4o’clock in the morning and the cuckoo bird on the tree beside my window has started singing. It’s still drizzling outside silently, reminding me of a song…
Sometimes I need some time...on my own
Sometimes I need some time...all alone
Everybody needs some time...on their own
Don't you know you need some time...all alone
'Cause nothing' lasts forever
Even cold November rain