VERB

A verb is a “doing word”. It expresses the carrying out of an action. With an active verb this action is carried out by the subject.

Examples:

  • It stands. I am.
  • He adjudicates between the parties concerned.
  • Alfred burnt the cakes.

With a passive verb the action is carried out upon the subject:

Examples:

  • The cakes were burnt by Alfred.
  • The Bible is read in many languages.

Important Rules

Two or more singular subjects connected by ‘and’ usually take a verb in the plural.

For example: Hari and Rama are there.

If two singular nouns refer to the same person or thing, the verb must be singular.

For example: My friend and benefactor has come.

If two subjects together express one idea, the verb may be in the singular.

For example: The horse and the carriage is at the door.

Two or more singular subjects connected by ‘or’, ‘nor’, either… or, neither…nor take a verb in the singular.

For example: Neither he nor I was there.

But when subjects joined by ‘or’, ‘nor’ are of different numbers, the verb must be plural, and the plural subject must be placed next to the verb.

For example: Rama and his brothers have done this.

When the subjects joined by ‘or’, ‘nor’ are of different persons, the verb agrees in person with the nearest one.

For example:

  • a) Either he or I am mistaken.
  • b) Neither you nor he is to blame.
When words are joined to a singular subject by ‘with’, ‘together with’, ‘in addition to’, ‘as well as’, then also number of the verb remains singular.

For example: The Chief with all his men, was massacred.

Following examples exemplify the common mistakes committed

  • a) His diet was abstemious, his prayers long and fervent. (Wrong as subjects are not in the same number.)
  • b) His diet was abstemious, his prayers were long and fervent. (Right)
  • c) He never has and never will, take such strong measures. (Wrong)
  • d) He never has taken, and never will take, such strong measures. (Right)
  • e) Ten new members have been enrolled and seven resigned (Wrong)
  • f) Ten new members have been enrolled and seven have resigned. (Right)
  • g) Being a very hot day, I remained in my tent. (Wrong as participle being is referring to none)
  • h) It being a very hot day, I remained in my tent. (Right)
  • i) Sitting on the gate, a scorpion stung him. (Wrong as participle sitting is not referring to any word)
  • j) While he was sitting on the gate, a scorpion stung him (Right)
The verb lay (lay, laid, laid) is transitive and is always followed by an object. The-: verb lie (lie, lay, Lain) is intransitive and cannot have an object.

For example:

  • a) Lay the child to sleep.
  • b) Let me lie here.
  • c) I laid the book on the table.

Agreement of the subject with the verb

A verb must agree with its subject in number and person. Often due to “Error of Proximity”: the verb is made to agree in number with a noun near it instead of with its proper subject.

For example:

  • a) The quality of the mangoes were not good. (Wrong since subject is quality, a singular and not mangoes.)
  • b) The quality of the mangoes was not good (Right).
  • c) His knowledge of Indian vernaculars are far beyond the common. (Wrong)
  • d) His knowledge of Indian vernaculars is far beyond the common. (Right)
Verb should be singular even when some words are joined to a singular subject by ‘with’, ‘as well as’ etc,

For example:

  • a) The chairman, with the directors, is to be present.
  • b) Silver, as well as cotton, has fallen in prices.
Two or more singular subjects connected by ‘or’, ‘nor’ require singular verb.

For example:

  • a) No nook or corner was left unexplored.
  • b) Our happiness or our sorrow is largely due to our own actions.
If two singular nouns express one idea, the verb is in the singular.

For example:

  • a) Bread and Butter are essential for one’s life. (Incorrect)
  • b) Bread and Butter is essential for one’s life. (Correct)
Either, neither, each, everyone, many a must be followed by a singular verb.

For example:

  • a) Neither of the two men was very strong.
  • b) Every one of the prisons is full.
  • c) Many a man has done so.
  • d) He asked whether either of the applicants was suitable.
When the subjects joined by ‘or’, ‘nor’ are of different numbers, the verb must be plural, and the plural must be placed next to the verb.

For example:

  • a) Neither Rekha nor her fiends was present at the party. (Incorrect)
  • b) Neither Rekha nor her friends were present at the party. (Correct)
When a plural noun denotes some specific quantity or amount considered as a whole, the verb is generally singular.

For example:

  • a) Five hours are too short a time to judge one’s character. (Incorrect)
  • b) Five hours is too short a time to judge one’s character. (Correct)

This is so because five hours is considered as one chunk.

Two nouns qualified by each or every, even though connected by ‘and’ require a singular verb.

For example: Every boy and every girl was given a packet of sweets.

‘None’ though singular commonly takes a plural verb.

For example: None are so deaf as those who will not hear.

Tell which sentence is correct.
  • a) Put in to bat first, a huge total was expected from India.
  • b) Put in to bat first, India was expected to pile up a huge total.

Now: who has been put in to bat first? A huge total of India? Common sense tells us it must be India. But the sentence a, as it stands, appears otherwise. So, sentence b is correct.

  • a) Being a rainy day, I decided to take my umbrella.
  • b) It being a rainy day, I decided to take my umbrella.

The sentence a, as it stands, gives us the impression that being a rainy day qualifies I. This is simply not true. I am not a rainy day. So sentence b is correct.

When a plural noun denotes some specific quantity or amount considered as a whole, the verb is generally singular.

For example:

  • a) One hundred paise is equal to one rupee.
  • b) Six miles is a long distance.
  • c) Fifty thousand rupees is a large sum.
Pin It

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *