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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 aneasy-chair at the medicine

table, and a chairat each side of the dressing table. (Shaw)

The wind drove down the rain and everywhere there was standing water and



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


There wasmuch trafficat night and many muleson 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 swift defeat nor heroic swift victory.(Wells)

Not only the anchor of hope, but the 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 Inormy sister is to blame.

Neither your sisternor you 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 as cell 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.


The Volgaas well as its affluents is very picturesque.


5. If a subject expressed by a noun is modified by two or more attributes connected by and, the predicate is in the singular when one person, thing, or idea is meant.


The complete and beautiful quiet was almost the quiet from beyond the

grave. (Stone)

Here a new social and politicalconsciousness was in the making.



If two or more persons, things, or ideas are meant the predicate is in the plural.


Classicaland light music have both their admirers.

The red and the white rose are both beautiful.

The red and white roses are both beautiful.


The above examples show that, in this case, the subject expressed by an abstract noun stands in the singular; with class nouns we either repeat the article and put the noun in the singular or use the article once and put the noun in the plural.


6. If the subject is expressed by a defining, indefinite, or negative pronoun (each, either, everybody, everyone, everything, somebody, someone, something, nobody, no one, nothing, neither, etc.), the predicate is in the singular.


In turn eachof these four brothers was very different from the other, yet they,

too, were alike. (Galsworthy)

Everybody was glad to see Martin back. (London)

There was somethingin her silence which disconcerted him. (Galsworthy)

Nobody was at home — Soames in London, Annette at a garden party. (Galsworthy)

There was nothingto attract attention or excite alarm in this. (Dickens)


7.If the subject is expressed by an interrogative pronoun (who, what) the predicate is usually in the singular.


Who is to apply to her for permission?” I asked. (Collins)

Tom called: “Hold! Who comes here into Sherwood Forest without my pass?”


What wasthere in him that could make him feel that shameful impulse in

Regan’s office? (Wilson)


If the question refers to more than one person the predicate may be used in the plural.


Who were to be the subjects of their piracies was a matter that did not occur

to him. (Twain)


8. If the subject is expressed by a relative pronoun (who, which, that) the predicate agrees with its antecedent.


Mrs. Gowan, whowas engagedin needlework, put her work aside in a

covered basket, and rose a little hurriedly. (Dickens)

Near them were the old people who were watching the dancing. (Abrahams)

She (Lillian) looked at his handsome face, which was turned to hers, with

childlike simplicity. (Dreiser)

This gentleman told me of two recent eventsin his life, which were of some

importance and which had not previously reached my ears. (Collins)


9. If the subject is expressed by the emphatic it the predicate is in the singular no matter what follows.


Foreigners say that it isonly English girls who can thus be trusted to travel

alone... (Ch. Bronte)


10. If the subject is expressed by a noun in the plural which is the title of a book, or the name of a newspaper or magazine, the predicate is usually in the singular.


The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Clubwas written when Dickens

was twenty-four years of age.


11. If the subject is expressed-by a noun in the plural denoting time, measure, or distance, the predicate is in the singular when the noun represents the amount or mass as a whole.


Four hundred miles was a huge distance when a man was no longer young

and had no means. (Maltz)

Three dollars is the sumlaid aside for all other purposes and pleasures.


Twenty-one years is a longish time, lad, but memory is longer and deeper

and stronger than time. (Farnol)


12. If the subject is expressed by a collective noun denoting a group or collection of similar individuals taken as a whole (mankind, humanity, etc,) the predicate-verb is in the singular.


He consoled himself with the idea that perhaps humanity was better than he

thought. (Dreiser)

“Well, what is mankind,then, Mrs. Jenkins?” I asked her. “Mankind is all of

us,”Mrs. Jenkins said, “you and me and everybody you can think of all over

the world. That is mankind.(Llewellyn)


If the subject is expressed by a noun of multitude, i. e. a collective noun denoting the individuals of the group taken separately (people — люди, infantry, cavalry, gentry, clergy, police, cattle, poultry, jury, etc.) the predicate-verb is as a rule in the plural.


The weather was warm, and the people were sitting at their doors. (Dickens)

“I belong to a church that is older and better than the English Church,” Mr.

Holt said... “in our church the clergy do not marry.(Thackeray)

The police are all over the place. (Kennedy)

At the present time, too many commercial cattle are bred with no particular

end in view. (Garner)

As experimental animals poultry have their excellent points. (Hagedeorn)


With collective nouns (family, committee, crew, army, board, chorus, government, party, team, company, band, etc.) as subject the predicate is either in the singular or in the plural; this depends on what is uppermost in the mind, the idea of oneness or plurality.


...the branch committee was meeting in the room of a textile trade union.


...I am glad to tell you, Doctor Manson... that the committee have decided by

a majority to ask you to remain. (Cronin)

The companywas then complete, twenty-one in all. (Galsworthy)

“One of them might have slipped into the hall, in the confusion, when the

dinner company were going away,”says Mr. Franklin. (Collins)

The Board was again full... (Galsworthy)

The board were sitting in solemn conclave, when Mr. Bumble rushed into the

room in great excitement... (Dickens)

Michael followed with the Upshires and Aubrey Green, whom he had

encountered in the hall. The party was complete.(Galsworthy)

The meal over, the party were freeto run and play in the meadows. (Ch.


...the band was beginning to playa selection from the music of Grieg.


When we came to the house we found that the bandhad arrived and were

standing about in the hall. (Du Maurier)


§ 21. The predicate agrees in number with the subject expressed by a syntactic word-group,1consisting of two nouns connected by the conjunction and. Here we find agreement according to the meaning expressed in the word-group.


1 A syntactic word-group is a combination of words forming one part of the sentence.


1. (a) If the word-group consists of two nouns denoting different persons, things, or notions, the predicate-verb is in the plural.


Andreis and I were alone.(Abrahams)

I knew that matter and spirit were one.(Bennett)


N о t e. — Syntactic word-groups forming one part of the sentence should not

be confused with homogeneous parts of the sentence. A sentence with two

homogeneous subjects can be divided into two sentences with each subject

taken separately, independently of the other.


Kath and Pearl were good-looking girls.(Lindsay)

( = Kath was a good-looking girl; Pearl was a good-looking girl.)


If we have a sentence with the subject expressed by a syntactic word-group,

its elements cannot be used separately without destroying the meaning of the

sentence; only the whole word-group (in the above examples: Andreis and I,

matter and spirit) can serve as the subject in the given sentence.


(b) The predicate-verb is in the singular when the subject is expressed by several nouns which represent one person or thing, or two persons or things forming a close unit often corresponding to one notion.


...thewife and motherwas askedwith affectionate deference before the plan

was made. (Broughton)

A carriage and pairwas passingthrough the lodge gates of Transome court.


...Chitterlow’s needle and threadin his still unmended trouser leg was

making an annoying ‘little noise on the pavement behind him. (Wells)


2. If the subject is expressed by a word-group consisting of two nouns connected by the preposition with, or the expression together with, the predicate-verb is in the singular.

It should be noted that these word-groups are very seldom found in English.


A woman with a childon the third floor is screaming and waving her free

hand frantically. (Dreiser)

An engine with a number of trucks was creeping up spluttering and

snorting, halting and knocking. (Lindsay)


3. If. the subject is expressed by a syntactic word-group the first element of which denotes an indefinite number or amount, such as a number of..., a variety of..., the majority of..., a lot of..., plenty of..., a mass of... etc., the predicate maybe in the singular or in the plural. In most cases the form of the predicate depends on the form and meaning of the second element, which from a semantic point of view is the dominant element of the word-group.


A number of cars were parked on the lot before a two-storey building.


A number of Connoisseurs were sitting and standing about.(Galsworthy)

There were a number of paper-covered bookletstoo. (Cronin)

The majority of the old seamen are but little moved by such graven beauty.


Thevast majority of men and women were not essentially above slavery

even when they had all the guarantees of a constitution formulated to prevent

it. (Dreiser)

“There is a lot of truthin that,” said Jonson cautiously. (Lindsay)

A lot of people are coming.(Hichens)

“There are a lotof things still for you to believe,” says Mr. Eversham,

beaming. (Wells)


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