Subject and Verb Agreement
Another very common mistake in English language grammar usage is that of subject and verb non-agreement. The rule is that a singular subject takes a singular verb and a plural subject takes a plural verb. How often do we see sentences like the following?
I think it is either her aunt or her uncle who are arriving today.
The correct sentence should be:
I think it is either her aunt or her uncle who is arriving today.
The rule is that a singular verb is required if two subjects are connected "by," "or" or "nor."
The same applies to sentences connected by "either" or "neither."
Wrong: Neither the boss nor his secretary are available.
Correct: Neither the boss nor his secretary is available. Or: Neither the boss nor his secretaries are available.
Wrong: Either Jack or Jill are coming.
Correct: Either Jack or Jill is coming.
The problem lies in recognizing whether the subject is singular or plural and recognizing if the verb is singular or plural.
The pronouns each, everyone, everyone, everybody, anyone, anybody, someone and somebody, appear to suffer most in regard to the rule of using a singular verb. These pronouns are singular and require singular verbs:
Correct: Each of them works well.
Wrong: Each of them work well.
Correct: Everyone means well.
Wrong: Everyone mean well.