Recently Nico messaged us on Facebook asking if we could create some English grammar podcasts that covered things like subject verb agreement. Learning to speak English, learning grammar especially, does not have to be difficult to learn. Listen to this weeks podcast to find out why.
We have created lots of podcasts and we are always looking for excellent podcast ideas that fall into one of these English learning topics. If you have a topic, you would like us to cover concerning anything to do with learning to speak English fluently or British culture and what living in the UK is like then please talk to us.
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As we said to Nico,
we cannot guarantee we will create a podcast just for you, but we will consider every suggestion and if it fits with our listen and learn approach to learning English, we will add the idea to our English podcast ideas list and who knows eventually your idea might be on iTunes and Spotify and hundreds of thousands of English language learners all over the world will listen to it.
Updated If you want to spend more time on English grammar subject verb agreement then this lesson may be of use.
Determiners Uncountable Countable
|The Subject Of The Sentence||2|
|The Subject And The Verb||2|
|In The Team Was Injured||2|
|Of Subject-Verb Agreement Today||2|
|Subject-Verb Agreement With Determiners||2|
Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. Learning grammar, conversation, vocabulary, visiting interesting topics, news, statistics, health, the world in general - we are here, helping you with your English language learning. And sometimes I tell you about personal experiences too, but all of this is great practice for your English language learning.
The greater part of the world's troubles are due to questions of grammar.
⭐ Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays
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So how about today we do some English learning - grammar! And this one was suggested by Nico on Facebook. Thankyou, Nico for this suggestion – and the numerous other suggestions that you’ve made. So subject-verb agreement is something which English language tests will try to catch you out on.
So even if you think you know this, it’s well worth revising – and as always with grammar, we’ll start off with the easy aspects of it and move towards the more complicated ones, the more difficult parts as we go further. I’m not going to attempt to cover all of this subject in one podcast because there’s quite a lot to it. But let me start you off thinking about subject-verb agreement. So let’s learn grammar online with Adept English today as usual. And I’ll give you lots of examples so you can hear English grammar in use.
So one of the things that you learn first of all in English is the simple link between the subject of the sentence – that means the person or thing doing the action – and the verb, the action, the action itself. So if the subject is one person or thing, the verb is in the singular form – and if the subject is more than one person or more than one thing, the verb is in the plural form.
So an example would be ‘The shoe belongs to my sister’. So one shoe and ‘belongs’ with an ‘s’ on the end is third person singular. But if you change that sentence to ‘The shoes belong to my sister’, you’ll notice that ‘belong’ loses its ‘s’ because it’s become a plural verb form.
And this rule stays the same no matter how many words separate the subject and the verb. So you might add to this original sentence like this:-
- The shoe that I found underneath my bed belongs to my sister. Or….
- The shoes that I found underneath my bed and that I put in the rubbish bin, belong to my sister.
- The cups of tea on the tray in the kitchen at the end of the corridor are to be carried outside.
- So it doesn’t matter how many words are between the subject and the verb, they must still agree.
And it gets a little more complicated when we introduce determiners. ‘Determiners’ are words in English that give more specific information about a noun. So examples would be ‘this’, ‘that’, ‘some’, ‘each’, ‘every’, ‘the first’, ‘the second’, ‘more’, ‘most’. So some of these take a singular form, when you might expect plural.
One of the parcels was lost– so you notice that although we’ve mentioned parcels - plural, ‘one’ is the subject of the sentence, so a singular verb ‘was lost’ is used.
Someone in the team was injured- and even though there’s a whole team, we’re talking here about a specific person – a ‘someone’ – so the verb is singular – ‘was injured’. But what about …...
Everyone in the team was injured– so even though it’s a whole team and they’re all injured, everyone still takes the singular form ‘was injured’. The clue here is that ‘one’, O-N-E at the end of ‘everyone’. It’s like we’re saying ‘Every single one was injured’, so we’re giving them a separate singular verb for each person. All of the determiners which have ‘one’, O-N-E on the end take the singular in this way – anyone, everyone, someone – all singular. And as I’ve mentioned before in podcasts you can substitute ‘body’ - anybody, everybody, somebody – it all works in the same way. Everybody is here. Or….
Eachof the students has to submit a review.
So even though you’re talking about a number of people there, it’s still a singular verb.
A photograph of a man injured from playing a team sport. Used to help explain English grammar subject verb agreement.
A lot of the determiners that show quantity, like some, most, all, more take either the singular or the plural, depending upon the sort of noun that they’re used with. So if you use them with ‘countable’ nouns, they take the plural form
- Most of the cats in my road are ginger.
- All of the apples in the basket are red.
- Some of the people at the party were drunk.
So that’s as you would expect. Plural subject, plural verb. But if you use these determiners which show quantity with uncountable nouns – remember that’s like traffic or custard – they stay singular.
- Most of the custard is spilling onto the floor
- All of the traffic was stopped.
- None of the news was good.
- Some manufacturing in the UK has restarted.
Be careful with ‘none’. None is a special case and slightly more difficult perhaps. In general, if you listen to English speakers and English conversation, it will tend to go with whether its subject is countable or uncountable, that’s true. But to be entirely grammatically correct, you have to think of ‘none’ as sometimes meaning ‘not one’ and sometimes meaning ‘not any’. So use of none is more difficult. I think that what you may be expected to do for an English test or a grammar exam is also perhaps different from how it’s used in everyday conversation by English people. English usage changes all the time, and what’s presented as correct grammar – what you might need to show that you know for an English test – can be different from what actual English speakers say. This may sound a bit mad, but I think that it’s true because language changes, language evolves! So to keep this podcast a reasonable length, I’ll deal with none, N-O-N-E another time!
So there are countable and uncountable nouns, which can confuse the situation, but there are also those nouns which take a plural form in English, where you might expect singular, where the same word may be singular in your language. So how about the following sentences?
- My trousers are on the bed and my knickers are in the drawer.
- My glasses have broken.
- Those scissors are sharp.
You’ll notice that many of these words reflect that there’s a sort up joined up pair of something – trousers have two legs, glasses have two lenses, scissors have two cutting surfaces. But then there are in English other words ending in -s, but which refer to a single thing, so because they’re plural, they have an ‘s’ on the end, they need a plural verb.
- His assets have been affected by the economic downturn.
- Her earnings have stayed the same throughout the economic downturn.
- Mathematics is a hard subject.
These are the sorts of things in English that trip you up, that catch you out – so good to practice them.
And lastly on the topic of subject-verb agreement today, what about if you use ‘there is’ or ‘there are’, ‘here is’ or ‘here are’? Well, this one’s quite easy, it depends upon whether the subject, which comes later in the sentence is singular or plural.
- There are five cats sitting on the roof. There is one dog sitting watching the cats.
- Here is a cup of tea and here are some biscuits to eat with your tea.
So please bear in mind, this isn’t an exhaustive list – I’ve not covered every aspect of subject-verb agreement today in this podcast. But I’ve made a note of subject areas I’ve yet to cover, so please let us know if you’d like me to carry on and do more subject-verb agreement in future podcasts.
There’s quite a lot to it – some of it comes under the heading of ‘grammar topics for advanced students’, I think, ‘grammar topics for advanced learners’! And
English grammar is best learned in small doses, rather than using an English grammar course.
Anyway, enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon.