Subject Verb Agreement (concord)

By | December 3, 2021

Concord between words happens when they match correctly, for exam a plural noun has a plural verb following it.


The following are some of the rules of concord:

  1. A singular subject must take a singular verb.


  • The boy is jumping.
  • Sammy eats everyday.
  • The student writes beautifully.



  1. A plural subject must also take a plural verb.


  • The boys are jumping.
  • They eat everyday.
  • The students write beautifully.


  1. When two or more singular subjects are joined or connected by and, the verb which follows must be plural.


  • The teacher and the doctor have been awarded.
  • She and her sister are well behaved.
  • The lion and the tiger are the wildest in the forest.


NOTE: There are three changes of this rule:

(a).  When each of the singular subjects is considered individually, the verb must be singular.


  • Every man and woman plays a vital role in the church.
  • Each boy and girl writes a new report.


(b).  When the two singular subjects refer to the same person or thing the singular verb must be used.


  • The teacher and catechist is doing a good job.
  • The Bread and butter has good nutrients.
  • Rice and beans is a very delicious meal.

(Note: The second noun takes no article)


However, if the second noun takes an article, use a plural verb because they are two different things. For instance: The teacher and the catechist are doing a good job.



  1. Mathematical computations may take either a singular or a plural verb.


  • Four times six are twenty-four. OR   Four times six is twenty-four.
  • Three and three are six. OR      Three and three is six.


  1. A singular subject followed by a plural modifier takes a singular verb.


  • One of the boys in the class is my cousin.
  • A list of the names of all members of staff is on the notice board.
  • The behaviour of those ladies was unacceptable



  1. A singular subject followed immediately by as well as, in addition to, including, no less than, with, together with, or a similar construction, must take a singular verb.


  • The managing director, no less than the personnel manager is to blame.
  • The car in addition to the television has been received.
  • The headmaster, as well as the teacher is attending the meeting.
  • Mango, besides banana is sold here.

 Note that to avoid complexities, ignore such words (as well as, besides, together with etc.)  and the subjects or phrases that come after them  and take a singular verb if the subject is singular. This means you are required to a plural verb if the subject happens to  be a plural subject. Refer to the examples below:

  • Mangoes, besides banana are sold here.
  • The headmasters, as well as the teacher are attending the meeting.


In the above sentences, the subjects  “ mangoes” and  “ the headmasters” are plural and therefore require a plural verb “ are”.



  1. When two or more more singular subjects joined by “nor, or, or  but”, the verb which follows must be singular.


  • Neither Abigail nor Matilda is guilty.
  • Not Dennis but Esther has arrived.
  • Not only her teacher, but even her uncle dislikes her.


  1. When one of the two subjects joined by or, nor, or Singular and the other is plural, the verb must agree in number with the nearer subject. This is known as the rule of proximity.


  • Not only the lady but also her uncles have forgiven the husband.
  • Neither the students nor their teacher has arrived.
  • Either his father or uncles are generous.


  1. When two subjects joined by or, or nor, differ in person, the verb must agree with the nearer one.


  • Neither Kwaku nor you have a case.
  • You or Boateng is to blame.

  Note that these sentences may be stated in different ways as:

  • Kwaku has no case; neither have you.
  • You and Boateng are to blame.


  1. For such indefinite pronouns as each, anyone, either, everybody, anybody, no one, neither, nobody, somebody, someone, a singular verb is needed.


  • Everybody likes Saturday night.
  • Someone needs to advise him.
  • Nobody knows the trouble I have.


  1. A collective noun takes a singular verb when the class/group is considered as a unit, and it takes a plural verb when the members of the class or group are considered individually


  • The family is meeting this evening.
  • The jury has retired to the chambers.
  • The clergy deserves recognition.


  • The family have relocated to the new town.
  • The jury have concluded their consultations.
  • The clergy are demanding more incentives.


  1. The pronouns “any” and “none” take either singular or plural verbs.


  • None performs so well as Ama does.
  • None are allowed to miss lectures.
  • Any of these boxes is filled.
  • Are any of them attending the party?


Note, however, that generally, the singular verb is preferred in a formal style, and for the plural verb in an informal one. Both are acceptable in both spoken and written English; one should therefore choose which ever fits the context.



  1. Plural numbers take a singular verb when they are used in a phrase to indicate a sum or a unit.


  • Eight hours has been approved.
  • Ten per cent is required from them.
  • Six years has been too long.
  • Ten thousand cedis is required for the project.



Click here to read on verbs and tenses


  1. When the subject is a relative pronoun, the verb agrees with the antecedent of that pronoun.


  • One of the boys who play tor the team has a knee injury.
  • This is one of those issues which have come up for discussion.
  • She is one of the ladies who read in the church.


  1. There are some nouns which are plural in form but singular in meaning. They are followed by singular verb. Some of these nouns include: semantics, Statistics, Mathematics, dynamics, Economics, ethics, Linguistics, news, electronics, Physics, whereabouts, quadratics.


  • Semantics is an interesting course.
  • Physics is not a difficult subject.
  • The news has been presented.


  1. When a subject is followed by any of these: as well as, When a subject is followed by any of these: as well as, accompanied by, with, together with, besides, such words lose their value and so the verb must agree with the subject.


  • The teachers, with the school prefect have presented their report.
  • Osei, as well as his friends has reported.
  • The boys, together with the lady have realised their mistake.


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