A verb usually ‘agrees’ with its subject. A singular subject has a singular verb and a plural subject has a plural verb.

eg. People are beginning to understand the importance of conserving water.

He is hopeful that the operation will be a success.

We use a singular verb:

– if the subject of a verb is a clause: Having a dream keeps you going.

– with nouns that end in -s but are not plural: News is sent via satellite.

– with expressions of quantity, measurement, etc.: Twenty kilometres is a long way to run.

– after words such as everyone, anything, etc.: No one asks why we have to pay.

We use a plural verb:

– for nouns which don’t end in -s but which are not singular:

– after words such as both of, all of, plenty of, a number of, a couple: All of my friends were waiting for me as a surprise.

Some collective nouns and names can take either a singular or a plural form.

– When focusing on countries which are groups of states, an institution or organisation as a whole, the verb is usually singular: The USA has a lot of power in the world today.

– When focusing on a collection of individuals, the verb is usually plural: The Beatles were a famous band in the 60s.


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