Singular and plural: miscellaneous points

April 6, 2011pdf

Certain singular nouns which are uncountable in English are countable in many other languages. Examples are: hair, baggage, furniture, advice etc.

  • Her hair is very thick. (NOT Her hair are very thick.)
  • My baggage has been stolen. (NOT My baggages have been stolen.)

Co-ordinated subjects

When two singular subjects are joined by and, the verb is normally plural.

  • Alice and Peter are going to get married.

But note that some phrases with and are treated like single ideas.

  • Romeo and Juliet’ is my favorite play. (NOT Romeo and Juliet are my favorite play.)

Two subjects connected by as well as, together with or a similar expression are followed by a singular verb if the first subject is singular.

  • The manager, as well as his colleagues, believes in a tough financial policy.

When two subjects are joined by or, the verb is usually singular if the second subject is singular, and plural if it is plural.

  • Grapes or a melon is suitable.
  • A melon or grapes are suitable.

When two singular subjects are joined by neither…nor, the verb is singular in a plural style, but is usually plural in an informal style.

  • Neither Mary nor her brother has arrived. (Formal)
  • Neither Mary nor her brother have arrived. (Informal)
Keep your grammar up-to-date!
Includes Grammar Guide (PDF)