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In the English language the predicate agrees with the subject in person and number.




Agreement implies that the use of one form necessitates the use of the other, for example: a singular subject requires a predicate in the singular, a plural subject requires a predicate in the plural.

Thehouse ivas alive with soft, quick steps and running voices. (Mansfield)

This evening there was no brightsunset; west and east were one cloud... (Ch. Вrоntё)

But in Modern English there is often a conflict between form and meaning; in these cases the predicate does not agree with the subject.

The Durhamfamily were at breakfast, father, mother and seven children. (O'Conor)

"Great Expectations" was written by Dickens in 1860. He further intimated thatthe United States was so interested in its own internal affairs that it would not be drawn into the ques­tion. (Graves)

In Modern English, with its few inflexions, agreement of the predicate with the subject is restricted to the present tense apart from the verb to be. The verb to be is an exception because it agrees with the subject not only in the present but in the past tense as well.

I am serious myself... (Lindsay)

We are men and women who respect ourselves and love our families! (Burke)

AndJoseph was there with me. (Abrahams) Allthe blinds were pulled down at the hall and rectory. (Thacke­ray)

§ 20.The following rules of agreement of the predicate with the subject should be observed:

1.The predicate is used in the plural when there are two or more homogeneous subjects connected by the conjunction and or asyndetically.

Herfather and mother... were obviously haunted and haras­sed. (Galsworthy)

The top of a low black cabinet,the old oaktable, the chairs in tawny leather, were littered with the children's toys, books, and garden garments. (Eliot)

If two or more homogeneous subjects are expressed by infinitives the predicate is in the singular.

To labour in peace, anddevote her labour and her life to her poor son, was all the widow sought. (Dickens)

To leave the quiet court, to gain the Strand, to hail a belated hansom was the work of a moment. (Thurston)

2.When the predicate-verb precedes a number of subjects it is often in the singular, especially if the sentence begins with here or there.

And here was a man, was experience and culture. (Galswor­thy)

Besides the chair at the writing-table there is an easy-chairat the medicine table,and a chair at each side of the dressing table. (Shaw)

The wind drove down the rain and everywhere there was stand­ing water and mud. (Hemingway)

If the subjects are of different number the predicate agrees with the subject that stands first.



There was muchtraffic at nightand many mules on the roads with boxes of ammunition on each of their pack saddles. (Hem­ingway)

3.When two homogeneous subjects in the singular are connected by the conjunctions not only... but (also), neither... nor; either... or, or, nor; the predicate is usually in the singular.

There was neither heroic swiftdefeat nor heroic swiftvictory.(Wells)

Not onlythe anchor of hope, butthe footing of fortitude was gone at least for a moment. (Ch. Bronte)

If the subjects are of different person or number, the predicate agrees with the one next to it.

Neither I normy sister is to blame.

Neitheryour sister noryou are to blame.

4.When two subjects in the singular are connected by the conjunc­tion as well as the predicate is in the singular.

Activity as well ascell structure is an essential condition of life. (Young)

If the subjects are of different person or number, the predicate agrees with the subject that stands first.


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