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Private: BA Arabic
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Unit 3

Learning Outcomes

Upon the completion of this unit, the learner will be able to:

  • construct grammatically correct sentences
  • learn the usage of correct verb forms for different subjects
  • develop necessary knowledge to frame grammatically correct sentences
  • hone speaking and writing skills


Have you ever heard about product license agreements? You might have come across this term when you had tried to download an application on your mobile phone. What do you think is the purpose of such an agreement? It means that we are allowed to use that particular product only according to that agreement.

Similarly, we have to follow certain rules while we are using the English language. We never use the following expressions:

       I are coming.   He were going.

Let us learn about the appropriate use of different subjects with different verbs in a sentence.

Key words

Concord, Grammatical Concord, Notional Concord, Concord of Proximity

3.3.1 Concord

The word concord means agreement. An agreement refers to a contract between two or more individuals. Sometimes agreements are signed between two or more organisations or even between two countries. In terms of law, an agreement is a legal contract. What do you think is concord in English grammar? Well, in English grammar the term concord refers to Subject-Verb agreement. In other words, the Subject and Verb in a sentence should agree with each other.

Types of Concord

There are three types of Concord:

  1. Grammatical Concord
  2. Notional Concord
  3. Concord of Proximity

1. Grammatical Concord

Grammatical concord incorporates Concord of person and Concord of number.

  • Concord of Person

Look at these sentences: He is a chemist.
They have changed a lot.

The subject he is followed by the verb is and they is followed by the verb have.

According to Concord of Person:

Note: Usually, the Subject I is followed by am/was, but in conditional clauses, I is followed by were.
Eg: I wish I were a butterfly.
If I were a billionaire, I would build a palatial house.

  • Concord of Number

She is doing research work.
They have already submitted the report.

In the above-cited sentences, the singular subject she is followed by a singular verb and the plural subject they is followed by a plural verb have. Concord of number states that if the subject is singular, the verb is singular and if the subject is plural, the verb is also plural.

Eg: This film is based on a true-life incident. They are making kites.

2. Notional Concord

Notional concord refers to the agreement of the subject with the verb based on the meaning of the sentence rather than the syntax.

  • When a collective noun is taken as a single unit, a singular verb is used and when taken separately, a plural verb is used.

Eg: The council has submitted its report. The jury were divided in their opinion

people are followed by plural verbs.
Eg: The cattle are grazing in the meadows.
The police are assigned to protect the public.
Singular verbs are used with the plural expression of height, weight, amount, quantity, distance and time.
Eg: Rs. 100 is just enough for that gift.

250 kilometers is not a short distance.
When phrases which express amount or quantity are taken as separate units, the verb should be plural.
Eg: 60 gold coins were collected from the old palace.
70 percent of players were selected from the competition.
Fraction and Percentage followed by a singular noun takes a singular verb. If it is followed by a plural noun, the verb should be plural.
Eg: Two-third of the tumbler is empty. 50 percent of doctors are on strike.

3.Concord of Proximity

The word proximity means closeness.

Concord of Proximity refers to the principle that the verb should agree with the nearby noun rather than a distant noun in the sentence.
When two subjects are connected by as well as, as much as, with, along with, together with, more than, rather than, besides, in addition to, except, the verb agrees with the first subject.
Eg: The mother as well as her children has visited us.

The students along with their teacher are going for a picnic.
When two subjects are connected by or, either…or, neither…nor, not…but, not only…but also, one or two, more…than the verb agrees with the nearby noun.
Eg: Either the leader or the workers have come.
Neither the sons nor the old woman is ready to leave the house.

3.3.2 Important Rules of Concord

  • When two or more subjects are connected by and, a plural verb must be used.

Eg: Meenu and Ajayan are doctors.
Sita, Krishnan and Vimal have qualified the test.

  • When two subjects are connected by and, conveying a single idea, the verb must be singular.

Eg: Bread and butter is my breakfast.
Age and experience brings wisdom.
Note: My cousin and friend is coming. (the same person)
My cousin and my friend are coming. (two different persons)

  • In the case of sentences starting with there, the verb depends on the subject that comes after there.

Eg: There is no need to criticize him.
There were twelve mangoes in the basket.

  • Nouns such as species, gallows, innings, deer, sheep, means, series, aircraft etc. have the same singular and plural forms. Thus, the verb can either be singular or plural.

Eg: Several species of animals are now extinct.
A new species of frog was discovered in the Western Ghats.

Plurals with no singular forms Same singular and plural forms
Goods, manners, oats, odds,outskirts, riches, earnings, savings, contents, funds, clothes, steps, surroundings, thanks, etc. Gallows, sheep, swine, deer,means, innings, crossroads, headquarters, aircraft, barracks, species, corps, offspring, etc.
  • Some nouns which denote pairs, such as spectacles, scissors, trousers, pants, shoes, pliers, binoculars, etc. are considered as plural and thus plural verbs should be used.

Eg: My spectacles are broken.
These scissors are brought from her shop.
Note: A pair of/ one pair of + singular verb
Two/three…pairs of + plural verb

Eg: A pair of shoes costs Rs. 500.
Certain nouns, such as names of books, organisations, diseases, countries appear to be plural in form, but singular in meaning. Such nouns should be followed by singular verbs.

Eg: Sons and Lovers is a book written by D.H. Lawrence.

Rickets is caused due to the deficiency of Vitamin D.
The United States is a part of the North American continent.

Generally, the names of subjects, such as Politics, Mathematics, Statistics, Economics, Physics, etc. are considered singular nouns and thus singular verbs should be used.

Eg: Politics is an interesting subject.
Mathematics is not my favourite subject.
Note: In general use, plural forms are preferred.
Eg: Statistics show that the gap between the rich and poor are widening.
Her politics is different from mine. (political opinions)
One of, each of, every one of, either of, neither of, the number of are followed by plural nouns and singular verbs.

Eg: One of the members has attended the seminar.
Either of them is smiling.
Many a, more than one are followed by a singular noun and a singular verb. Eg: Many a soldier was killed in the battle.

More than one craftwork was selected for the exhibition.
A number of, a small number of, a large number of, a good number of, a great number of, a good many, a great many, a minority of, the majority of, both, few, several, many are followed by plural nouns and plural verbs.

Eg: Both of them are intelligent.

Many people have attended her wedding.
When a lot of, most of, some of, none of, plenty of, a good deal of, a great deal of, the greater part, the greatest part, all, any, etc. are followed by an uncountable noun, the verb is singular and when followed by a countable noun, the verb is plural.

Eg: Plenty of toys are available in the shop.

A lot of money was wasted on decorating the house.
Each, every, either and neither are followed by singular nouns and singular verbs. Eg: Each worker is tired.

Either girl is cheerful.
Someone, somebody, everyone, everybody, anyone, anybody, no one, nobody, nothing, anything are followed by a singular verb.

Eg: Someone has to take responsibility.

Nobody is interested in this program.


  • Concord
  • Subject-verb agreement
  • Types of concord
  • Grammatical Concord
  • Concord of Person
  • Concord of Number
  • Notional concord
  • Concord of Proximity

Objective Questions

  1. What is concord?
  2. What are the three different types of concord?
  3. What is Grammatical concord?
  4. What is the agreement of a subject with a verb based on the meaning of that sen-tence rather than the syntax known as?
  5. Which concord states that the verb should agree with the nearby noun?
  6. Write down the types of verbs (singular or plural) which agree with the following subjects:
    We, he, she, they
  7. Identify the correct sentence.
    a) I are a student.
    b) I am a student.
    c) I is a student
  8. Identify the correct sentence.
    a) He was absent on that day.
    b) He am absent on that day.
    c) He were absent on that day.
  9. Spot the error in the following sentences.
    a. A pair of spectacles are on the table.
    b. More than one girls are playing on the ground.
    c. Somebody have taken my bottle.
    d. Each song of the film are melodious.
    e. A good number of artists is coming to the biennale.
    f. A tennis player and a coach has attended the function.


  1. Subject-verb agreement.
  2. Grammatical concord, notional concord and concord of proximity.
  3. Singular subject takes a singular verb, a plural verb is used with plural subjects.
  4. Notional concord
  5. Concord of Proximity.
  6. We- plural verb He – singular verb She- singular verb They- plural verb
  7. I am a student.
  8. He was absent on that day
    a) A pair of spectacles is on the table.
    b) More than one girl is playing on the ground.
    c) Somebody has taken my bottle.
    d) Each song of the film is melodious.
    e) A good number of artists are coming to the biennale.
    f) A tennis player and a coach have attended the function


  1. Match the following using the rules of concord

    Seventy years Are to pay the fine.
    The children Is decided to organize a strike.
    Either Ram or his friends Has happy
    The minister along with the party workers Have not a short time period.
    Smitha Is a kind woman.
  2. Fill up the following details about yourself. Remember to follow the rules of concord.
    a) I ……… (name).
    b) My hometown …….
    c) I ………(work)
    d) My family…………
    e) My hobbies…….
    f) I…………. (likes)
    g) I…………… (dislikes)
    h) My ambition ………
    i) My friends ……..
    j) My best friend……..
    k) I wish…….
    l) I ……thankful to……..
  3. Fill in the blanks
    a) Mary along with her son …. to church. ( goes, go)
    b) Neither Sarath nor his friends …. won a prize. ( has, have)
    c) The Police…….. threatened the thief. (has, have)
    d) Twenty-five percent of workers…….. willing to sign the contract. (is, are)
  4. Spot the error in the following sentences
    a) Krishnan and Kamal is good friends.
    b) Angel with his relatives are going to the park.
    c) Ram has not only a bike but car.
    d) My spectacles has been broken.
    e) A number of labourers is working in that factory.
    f) He stay in a hostel.

Suggested Reading

  1. Hewings, Martin. Advanced Grammar in Use with Answers: A Self-Study Reference and Practice Book for Advanced Learners of English, 3rd edi-tion, CU Press, 2013.
  2. Martin, H. and P. C. Wren. English Grammar and Composition, S. Chand Publishing, 2015.
  3. Moothathu, V.K. Concise English Grammar, OU Press, 2012.
  4. Swan, Michael. Practical English Usage, 4th edition, OU Press, 2017.