Conjunctions connecting two or more homogeneous subjects

§ 63. A plural verb-predicate is used in the following cases:

1. With homogeneous subjects connected by and.

Sun and air are necessary for life.

Tom and Mary are my friends.

The ebb and the flow of the tide are regular.


However, with structures where coordinated nouns refer to one thing or person a singular verb-predicate is used.

Bread and butter is not enough for breakfast. (one object is meant)

Bacon and eggs makes a traditional English breakfast. (one dish is meant)

The painter and decorator is here. (one person is meant)

If the article is repeated, the reference is to two persons or objects, and a plural verb-predicate is used.

The bread and the butter are on the table. (two separate objects are meant)

The painter and the decorator are here. (two persons are meant)

Likewise, when a singular noun-subject has two attributes characterizing the same person or non-person connected by and it has a singular verb and the article is not repeated.

A tall and beautiful girl was waiting in the office.

A black and white kitten was playing on the hearth rug.

But if the attributes characterize different persons or non-persons the verb is in the plural and the article is repeated.

A black and a white kitten were playing on the hearth rug. (A black kitten was playing and a white kitten was playing.)

The yellow and the red car were badly damaged.

However, the article is repeated before each attribute only with countable nouns. Uncountables have no article.

In modern hotels hot and cold water are supplied in every room.

American and Dutch beer are both much lighter than British.

Good and bad taste are shown by examples.

With plural nouns only one article is used.

The Black and Mediterranean Seas never freeze.

2. With homogeneous subjects connected by both… and.

Both the bread and the butter are fresh.

Both the teacher and the students have come.

§ 64. With homogeneous subjects connected by the conjunctions not only… hut also, either… or, or, neither… nor the verb-predicate agrees with the nearest noun-subject. (This is the so-called “proximity rule”.)

Either my sister or my parents are at home.

Either my parents or my sister is at home.

Neither you nor I am right.

Neither I nor you are right.

Not only my parents but also my brother knows about it.

Not only my brother but also my parents know about it.

Is Tom or Mary eager to meet you at the station?

§ 65. With homogeneous subjects connected by the conjunctions as well as, rather than, as much as, more than the verb-predicate agrees with the first one.

My parents as well as my sister are teachers.

My sister as well as my parents is a teacher.

The manager as well as/rather than/more than/as much as the members of the board is responsible for the

present situation.

notational agreement

§ 66. Notional agreement is to be found in the following cases:

1. In modern English agreement there may be a conflict between form and meaning. It refers first of all subjects to expressed by nouns of multitude (see § 176, II), which may denote plurality being singular in form. In such cases the principle of grammatical agreement is not observed and there appears the so-called notional agreement, when the choice of the number is based on the fact whether the group of beings is considered as one whole or, as a collection of individuals taken separately (as discrete ones).

Thus the nouns of multitude (band, board, crew, committee, crowd, company, clergy, cattle, family, gang, group, guard, gentry, infantry, jury, militia, police, poultry, team) may have both a plural verb -predicate and a singular one depending on what is meant – a single undivided body or a group of separate individuals.

A new government has been formed.

The government have asked me to go, so I am leaving now.

It was now nearly eleven o’clock and the congregation were arriving…

The congregation was small.

How are your family?

Our family has always been a very happy one.

The commanding officer does not know where his cavalry is and his cavalry are not completely sure of

their situation.

The crowd was enormous.

The crowd were silent.

The police is already informed.

I don’t know what the police are doing.

The cattle is in the mountains.

The cattle have stopped grazing. They know before you hear any sound that planes are approaching.

The jury decides whether the accused is guilty or not.

While the jury were out, some of the public went out for a breath of fresh air.

2. Subjects expressed by nouns denoting measure, weight, time, etc., have a singular verb-predicate when the statement is made about the whole amount, not about the discrete units.

Ten years is a long time.

Another five minutes goes by.

A million francs is a lot of money.

3. Notional agreement is also observed with subjects expressed by word-groups including nouns of quantity: a/the number of…, a/the majority of…, (a) part of…, the bulk of. .., a variety of… . These admit of either a singular or a plural verb-predicate.

The number of pages in this book isn’t large. It was Sunday and a number (many) of people were walking about. In Elisabeth’s reign the bulk of English vegetable supplies were imported from Holland.

4. Subjects expressed by such invariable plural nouns as goods (goods), contents (content), riches (wealth, riches), clothes (clothing), wages (salary), eaves (roof eaves) have a plural verb .

His wages were only 15 shillings a week.

I asked her what the contents were about.

His clothes were shabby.

The goods were delivered on time.

5. Subjects expressed by such invariable singular nouns as hair, money, gate, information (information), funeral (funeral), progress (success), advice have a singular verb-predicate. These are called “singularia tantum” “always singular”, as they have no plural.

Her hair is beautiful.

The money is mine.

The gate is open.

The information was unusually interesting.

If the funeral is so detestable to you, you don’t have to go to it.

The corresponding Russian nouns used as subjects are either plural invariables (money, gates, funerals) or have both the singular and the plural forms (advice – advice, news – news).

6. Subjects expressed by invariable nouns ending in -s (“pluralia tantum” “always plural”) and denoting an indivisible notion or thing have a singular verb-predicate : measles (measles), mumps (mumps), billiards, dominoes, linguistics, economics, news, headquarters (headquarters), works (factory).

No news is good news.

The new works that has been built in our district is very large.

Thought nouns in -ics which are names of sciences and other abstract notions have a singular agreement when used in their abstract sense; they may have a plural verb-predicate when denoting qualities, practical applications, different activities, etc. (ethics – “moral rules”, gymnastics – “physical exercises”). Thus these nouns may be followed by either a singular or a plural verb.

statistics a branch of science collected numbers, figures representing facts

Statistics is a rather modern branch of mathematics.

These statistics show deaths per 1,000 of population.

statistics on this subject are available,

tactics the art of arranging military forces for battle methods

Tactics is one of the subjects studied in military academies.

Your tactics are obvious. Please, don’t insult my intelligence.

politics a profession political affairs, political ideas

Politics is a risky profession.

Politics have always interested me.

What are your politics?

ceramics the art of making bricks, pots, etc. articles produced in this way

Ceramics is my hobby.

Where he lives isn’t the provinces as far as ceramics are concerned, it’s the metropolis.

7. Subjects expressed by substantivized adjectives denoting groups of people (the blind, the dumb and deaf, the eminent, the mute, the old, the poor, the rich, etc.) always take the plural verb-predicate.

He did not look an important personage, but the emminent rarely do.

The object

§ 67. The object is a secondary part of the sentence referring to some other part of the sentence and expressed by a verb, an adjective, a stative or, very seldom, an adverb completing, specifying, or restricting its meaning.

She has bought a car.

I’m glad to see you.

She was afraid of the dog.

He did it unexpectedly to himself.

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