English Use: Subject-Verb Agreement (Concord)
SUBJECT-VERB ACCORD (CONCORD)
Communication is achieved primarily through speech or writing. To achieve proficiency in communication, whether oral or written the knowledge of such grammatical elements as concord, active/passive structure, and direct/indirect structures, etc, is necessary.
Concord in broad terms means agreement between the subject and the verbs as well as other elements of the clause structure, (Babajide 2004, Leech and Svartvik 1994). The idea of concord in the grammar of English suggests that for an English sentence to be correct and meaningful, its constituent parts (i.e. subject, verb, object, adverbial) must be in perfect agreement. Some rules of agreement are discussed below:
1. Subject/Verb Agreement: This is the agreement between the subject and the predicator or verb. The rule here states that:
(i) When the subject is singular, the verb should be singular e.g. Bongo is a lover of knowledge.
(ii) When the subject is plural, the verb too is expected to be plural, e.g. Nigerians are lovers of knowledge.
Some specific rules of concord are:
(a) “A – pair- of” Agreement
When the phrase “a – pair – of” is used as a subject, it is treated as singular and it attracts a singular verb, e.g.
A pair of scissors is on the table.
(b) Rule of Proximity
The rule of proximity states that ‘when there is a list of nouns or pronouns acting as the subject in an ‘or’ a ‘nor’, in an ‘or’ a ‘nor’ it is the nearest noun or pronoun to the position of the verb that will determine the choice of the verb, e.g.
(i) If the boy dies, the parents, his friends or the doctor is to blame.
(ii) If the boy dies; the doctor, his friends or his parents are to blame.