English Grammar Lessons

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SINGULAR? PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES

 
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.

Examples:

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".)
SUBJECT OF A VERB?

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'.)
BEWARE OF NONE 

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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