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Concord Between Subject and Verbal

Pieces with letters forming words on a table. Photo.
Åpne bilde i et nytt vindu

Study the sentences below and notice the verb forms in bold type.

  1. American history is relatively short compared to that of nations in other parts of the world.
  2. Americans take great pride in their traditions.
  3. In the minds of most Americans their history dates back to the early days of the 17th century (the 1600s).
  4. The first English colonies were founded on the east coast.
  5. The Spanish settlements in the Southwest are a century older.
  6. The Native Americans can claim a presence on the continent that goes back at least 35,000 years.

Remember: There must always be concord between the subject and the verbal in English.
In the singular, regular verbs take an –s ending in the 3.person (cf. dates below).
All other regular present tense forms have the base form (cf. take below).
The verb BE has special forms. Study the table below.

  1. American history is ...
  2. Americans take ...
  3. In the minds of most Americans their history dates back...
  4. The first English colonies were founded ...
  5. The Spanish settlements in the Southwest are a ...

Rules of Concord

  • If the subject consists of more than one word, it is the number in the head that determines the concord with the verbal.
  • To decide whether to use the singular or the plural form of the verb, you can try to put in the pronouns it, he, she or they.
  • Instead of American history, you can put in it, which gives is in the present tense.
  • Instead of the first English colonies, you can put in they, which gives were in the past tense.

Learn this system for conjugating normal verbs and the auxiliary verbs (hjelpeverbene) DO, HAVE and BE in the present and past tenses.

Singular or Plural

It is often difficult to determine whether the head of the subject noun phrase is singular or plural:


In expressions of quantity we use the singular form, even if the subject is plural:

  • Three multiplied by four equals/is twelve. (it is)
  • Ten miles is about 16 kilometers. (it is)

Words ending with –body/-one

After words like everyone/-body, someone/-body, anyone/-body, no one/-body we always use the singular form of the verb. Each and every in subject position also take the singular form of the verb.

  • Somebody is knocking on the door.
  • Has anyone seen my wallet?
  • Every doctor knows what to do in such circumstances.

There + singular or plural?

When we use there as an anticipatory subject in the beginning of a sentence, there must be concord between the verb and the following noun.

  • There is only one car in the parking lot.
  • There are many cars in the parking lot.
CC BY-SASkrevet av Per Lysvåg og Karin Dwyer Løken. Rettighetshaver: NDLA
Sist faglig oppdatert 31.01.2019


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