Basic Rules For Verbs

Basic Rules For Verbs

Basic Rules For Verbs



General Rule

The verb must agree with its subject in number and person 

Rule-1 When two subjects are joined by ‘AND’ the verb is plural

Ex.-My friend and his father are in India

Rule-2 When two singular nouns joined by AND refer to the same person or thing, the verb is singular. 

Ex.-The secretary and treasurer has been arrested.

The district magistrate and collector is on leave today

Rule-3 Article ‘THE’ is used only once when the two nouns refer to the same person or thing. If the two nouns refer to different persons or things, article ‘THE’ is used before each noun. In such cases, the verb will be in the plural form.

Ex.-The secretary and the president have been given warm welcome.

Rule-4 If two different singular nouns express one idea, the verb should be in the singular form.

Ex.-Bread and milk is good for Breakfast.

Rice and curry is my favorite dish

This is the long and the short of the matter.

Rule-5 When two singular subjects are practically synonymous the verb should be in the singular form.  

Ex.-The law and order situation in the state is under control

His power and influence is on the decline.

Power and position has no charm for my friend.

Peace and Prosperity is the need to the day.

Rule-6 If two singular subjects combined by AND are preceded by each or every, the verb should be in the singular.  

Ex.-Every boy and girl was present in the class Yesterday.

Every man and every woman has  the right to express his or her view.

Rule-7 When the subjects joined by (Either-or), (Neither-nor) are of different persons, the verb will agree in person and number with the noun nearest to it. 

Also, the plural subject must be placed nearest to the verb.

Ex.-Either Radha or Rani has done this mischief.

Neither Mohini nor Ragini is beautiful

Either the CM or the Cabinet Ministers are responsible for this problem.

Neither you nor he is to take up this task.

Either you or I am responsible for this mistake.

Rule-8 If connectives like with, together with, ‘as well as’ accompanied by  etc. are used to combine two subjects the verb agrees with the subject mentioned first.

Ex.-The president of India together with his personal secretaries is invited to this function.

The actress, along with her manager and some friend, is attending the function.

Mr. Michael, accompanied by his wife and children is arriving tonight by train.

Rule-9 When (Not only-but also) is used to combine two subjects, the verb agrees with the subject close to it 

Ex.-Not only Hari, but also his brothers were arrested.

Rule-10 Use of None/No.

None can take either a singular or a plural verb depending on the noun which follows it.

Structure [None + of the + (non-count noun) + singular verb]

Ex.-None of the counterfeit money has been found

Structure [None + of the + (plural count. noun)  + plural verb]

Ex.-None of the students have finished the exam yet.

No can take either a singular or plural verb depending on the noun which follows it. 

Structure : [No + Singular Noun + Singular Verb ]
ex- No employee has received the salary.
Structure : [No + plural Noun + plural Verb ]
Ex.- No examples are relevant to this case.

Rule-11 Many words indicating a number of people or animals are singular.

The following nouns are usually singular. 

(If the individual members are acting separately, they are plural and take plural verb.)

[Congress, Family, Group, Committee, Class, Organisation, Team, Army, Club, Crowd, Government, Jury, Minority, Public]

Ex.-The family was happy at the news

The family were fighting over inheritance.

Our team is certain to win the match.

The committee have arrived by different trains.

The crowd was wild with excitement.

Rule-12 Majority can be singular or plural. If it is alone it is usually singular, if it is followed by a plural noun, it is usually plural. 


IMPORTANT NOTE: Majority by itself is singular but when majority refers to a set of people it is plural.

e.g. A majority is always right.

e.g. A majority of students are right.

Rule-13 The number/A number

The number is singular: The number of acres destroyed by wildfires has increased dramatically over the past several years.

A number is plural: A number of students are standing outside the office.

Rule-14 Collective nouns indicating time, money and measurements used as a whole are Singular and take a singular verb.

Twenty five rupees is not such a big amount for him

Two miles is too much for this man to run.

Rule-15 when a lot of, a great deal of, plenty of, most of  and  some of  refer to number, a plural verb is used.  

Ex.-A lot of people were present in the party.

Some of  the students were absent.

But, if these expressions refers to an amount, the verb is in the singular number.

Ex.-A lot of work has to be completed before we go.

A great deal of work has been finished

Rule-16 When the percentage or a part of something is mentioned with plural meaning the plural verb is used. 

Ex.-30 % of Indian women are literate.

Three-quarters of the food has been eaten.

(Here the reference is to the food as a whole)

Rule-17 Barracks, Headquarters, Whereabouts, Alms etc. take a singular verb, as well as plural verb. 

Ex.-The headquarters of the UNO is/are New York

Rule-18 In sports, while referring to the players, the name of the country is followed by plural verb. 

Ex.-England have won the World Cup.

Rule-19 When the word ENEMY is used in the sense ‘Armed forces’ of a nation with which one’s country is at war, we have to use the plural verb.

The enemy were forced to Retreat.

Rule-20 Use of Lay and Lie 

The verb Lay is transitive and is always followed by an object

The verb Lie is intransitive and cannot have an object.

(Lay – Laid – Laid)

Ex.-Lay the child on the bed.

I laid the book on the table.

(Lie – Lay – Lain)

Let me lie here.

He lay under that tree.

Rule 21. When sentences start with “there” or “here,” the subject will always be placed after the verb, so care needs to be taken to identify it correctly.


There are four hurdles to jump.

There is a high hurdle to jump.

Here are the keys.

There is a problem with the balance sheet.

Here are the papers you requested.

Rule 22 : Titles of books, movies, novels, etc. are treated as singular and take a singular verb.

The Burbs is a movie starring Tom Hanks.

Rule 23: When gerunds are used as the subject of a sentence, they take the singular verb form of the verb; but, when they are linked by and, they take the plural form.

Standing in the water was a bad idea.

Swimming in the ocean and playing drums are my hobbies.

Rule 24 :If two infinitives are separated by and they take the plural form of the verb.

To walk and to chew gum require great skill.

Rule 25: Don’t get confused by the words that come between the subject and verb; they do not affect agreement.

Ex- The dog, who is chewing on my jeans, is usually very good.

Rule 26: Inverted Sentences

Usually in a sentence the subject always precedes the verb, but sometimes they can reverse this order, so that the verb comes before the subject.

Incorrect: Through the Golden Eagle Bridge passes thousands of vehicles every day.

In the above sentence, the singular verb passes is not referring to the singular Golden Eagle Bridge but to the plural thousands of vehicles. Hence, the correct verb will be the plural pass.

Correct: Through the Golden Eagle Bridge pass thousands of vehicles every day.

27. Final Rule – Remember, only the subject affects the verb!

Dear SA’ians,

 Here we are providing the short notes on English topic (Noun), which will help you to revise whole syllabus day by day…!!!

Shortcut Rule 1 : If the subject is of the third person, singular number (He, She, It) add ‘S’ or ‘es / ies’ to the first form of the verb to make it singular number.

Shortcut Rule 2 : The following verbs are not usually used in the continuous form. See / Smell / Feel / Hear / Notice / Recognize / See / Think / Agree / Believe / Consider / Remember / Hope / Understand / Mind / Suppose / Hate / Love / Know / Have / Want / Forgive / Keep / Prevent etc. But they may be used in continuous forms in a particular cases.

Shortcut Rule 3 : The present perfect tense should not be used with adverbs indicating past time. Instead the simple past tense should be used.

Shortcut Rule 4 : The present perfect tense with “For or Since” is used to express an action began at some time in the past and is still continuing upto the time of speaking or just finished.

For …………………………period of time (for 2 days / for 10 days / for a long time)

Since  …………………………point of time. (Since 1996, Since morning, since yesterday, since last week)

Shortcut Rule 5 :The present perfect continuous Tense” is also used for actions began in the past and are still continuing.

Shortcut Rule 6 : When the first action led to the second action immediately The simple Past Tense + Simple Past Tense are used.

Shortcut Rule 7 : When the first action completed before the second one started, the Past Perfect Tense for the first finished action and the Simple Past Tense for the Second are used.

Shortcut Rule 8 : After negative sentences, the question tag used should be in an ordinary interrogative form.

Shortcut Rule 9 : After Positive Statements, we use the negative interrogative.

Shortcut Rule 10 : When the verb in the principal clause is in a past tense, the verbs in the subordinate clauses are normally in the Past Tense.

Shortcut Rule 11 : When the subordinate clause expresses a universal truth the past tense in the main clause may be followed by a Present Tense.

Shortcut Rule 12 : The Past Tense in the main clause may be followed by any tense after the conjunction “Than” in the subordinate clause.

Shortcut Rule 13 : In Conditional Sentences, to express improbability in the Present, the Simple Past Tense in the if clause and the Present Conditional Tense in the main clause are used.

Shortcut Rule 14 : To express unfulfilled condition in the Past, we should express with “Past Perfect Tense” in the if clause and Perfect Conditional Tense in the Main Clause.

Shortcut Rule 15 : For the interrogative sentences that begin with auxiliary verbs, “if or whether as a connective word in indirect speech.

Shortcut Rule 16 : No other conjunction should be used as a connective word, in indirect speech when the question indirect speech begins with “Why (or) How” question words.

Shortcut Rule 17 : No preposition is used after the verb “told”

Shortcut Rule 18 : The question forms  in direct speech should be changed to affirmative sentences in indirect speech.

Shortcut Rule 19 : The verb “Suggest” purpose in indirect speech should be followed by “that clause” with the auxiliary verb “should”

Shortcut Rule 20 : In the absence of an indirect object after “suggest” a gerund form is used.

Shortcut Rule 21 : The verb “Tell” should be used with an object.




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