Agreement of subject and verb

Within a clause, the subject and verb are expected to ‘agree’ in number: if the subject is singular, the verb should be singular; if the subject is plural, the verb should be plural:

My clock [singular noun] is [singular verb] fast.

All the clocks [plural noun] are [plural verb] fast.

Verbs used with pronouns that refer back to a previous noun should also agree with it:

An ant is [singular] exploring the kitchen benchtop. It [singular] is going in all directions.

Ants are [plural] on the march in my kitchen. They [plural] are swarming all over.

Collective nouns can take singular or plural agreement. Generally:

  • use a plural verb when treating a collective noun as a group of individuals
The team are all fit for the challenges of summer cricket in India.
  • use a singular verb when treating a collective noun as a single unit
The team is all out for 129 runs.
  • treat organisations as a single unit

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