English Grammar Lessons

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Phrases such as 'of tapes', 'of the offices', etc. do not affect the verb.

Find the Subject

The subject of a verb will never start with a word like 'of'. In the first example below, the subject is not 'of the offices' or 'offices'. It is 'evacuation', which is singular.

A phrase like 'of the offices' or 'of nails' (called a 'prepositional phrase') does not affect whether the main word is singular or plural.


The evacuation of the offices is the floor manager's responsibility.  
("evacuation" is singular, hence "is" and not 'are')

A box of tapes were discovered in his car.
(The word "box" is singular. It should be 'was' and not "were".)

A combination of factors were the cause of the crash.
(combination is singular)

He [Bernard Shaw] hasn't an enemy in the world, and none of his friends like him. (Oscar Wilde)
(The word "none" is singular. It should be "none of his friends likes him".)

Verbs are doing words like 'to jump', 'to print', 'to be (am, are, is etc.)', 'to see' etc.) (See lesson Verbs.)

The subject of a verb is the person or thing doing the action.

The mouse is still under the fridge.
("Mouse" is the subject of the verb 'to be'.)
Helen's boss drinks like a fish during the day.
("Helen's boss" is the subject of the verb 'to drink'.)

The word 'none' is singular. However, it is often mistakenly treated as plural - particularly when accompanied by a prepositional phrase.

None of them were present.
("of them" - prepositional phrase)
None of them was present.
None of the brothers carries
a knife.  
(note: "carries" is the singular form. E.g., he carries / they carry)
Associated lessons:
What are prepositions?
The object of a preposition
Forming plurals
Forming plurals of compound nouns
Forming plurals (table)

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