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Grammar Challenge


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Lee from South Korea: 'I like the buildings of London... I think London is a very beautiful city

Subject-verb agreement 2 - singular and plural subjects
Last week, we showed how plural and singular subjects need to 'agree' with their verbs. But some subjects look singular but are actually plural... and some look plural but are actually singular!

Confused? So is our imaginary news reporter. It's lucky that Lee from South Korea is here to spot her mistakes. But can you?


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Indefinite pronouns like everybody and anyone take singular verbs. Some nouns which end with –s, like news, and diabetes – are actually singular. Other words like data and media are plural, and collective nouns like team, government and group can be singular or plural.

Rule Some nouns which follow this rule Example sentence
Some indefinite pronouns have a plural meaning, but take singular verbs everybody, anyone, everything Everybody is in hospital
Some nouns which end with –s are singular mathematics, physics, rabies, diabetes, news Rabies is on the increase
Some nouns which don't end with –s are plural people, children, data, media The media have collected more data
Some collective nouns can be singular and plural family, team, police, group, government, jury

The jury has found the defendant guilty

The jury are having a discussion


Download Catherine's grammar explanation and table (pdf - 56 K)

Download this programme (mp3 - 1.8 MB)
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Now it's your turn to practise subject-verb agreement. Go to our quiz page on this subject here.

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Next week, we'll return to the topic of the passive, with a discussion of the perfect passive...

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