The present tense



Modal Verbs: an overview with examples $ links

Must – to have to, or to be highly likely. Must can be used to express 100% certainty, a logical deduction or prohibition depending on the context.

  • It must be hard to work 60-hours a week. (probable)
  • You must listen to the professor during the lecture. (necessity)
  • She must not be late for her appointment. (necessity)
  • It must not be very hard to do. (probable)

Can – to be able to, to be allowed to, or possible. Can is a very common modal verb in English. It’s used to express ability, permission and possibility.

  • It can be done. (possible)
  • She can sleepover at Sara’s house this weekend. (allowed to)
  • The car can drive cross country. (able to)
  • It cannot be done. (impossible)
  • The doctor said he cannot go to work on Monday. (not allowed to)
  • She cannot focus with the car alarm going off outside. (not able to)

Could –to be able to, to be allowed to, or possible. Could is used when talking about an ability in the past or for a more polite way to ask permission.

  • Mark could show up to work today. (possible)
  • Could I come with you? (allowed to)
  • When I was in college I could stay up all night without consequence. (able to)
  • Mark could not come to work today. (possible/allowed)
  • Last night I could not keep my eyes open. (able to)

May – to be allowed to, it is possible or probable

  • May I sit down here? (allowed to)
  • I may have to cancel my plans for Saturday night. (possible/probable)
  • She may not arrive on time due to traffic. (possible)

Might – to be allowed to, possible or probable. Might is used when discussing something that has a slight possibility of happening, or to ask for permission in a more polite way.

  • Chris might show up to the concert tonight. (possible/probable)
  • Might I borrow your computer? (Many people don’t say this in American English, instead they would say Can I borrow your computer? Or May I borrow your computer?)

Need – necessary

  • Need I say more? (necessary)
  • You need not visit him today. (not necessary)

Should – to ask what is the correct thing to do, to suggest an action or to be probable. Should usually implies advice, a logical deduction or a so-so obligation.

  • Should I come with her to the dentist? (permission)
  • Joe should know better. (advice/ability)
  • It should be a very quick drive to the beach today. (possibility)
  • Margaret should not jump to conclusions. (advice)

Had better – to suggest an action or to show necessity

  • Evan had better clean up the mess he made. (necessity)
  • Megan had better get to work on time tomorrow. (necessity)

Will – to suggest an action or to be able to

  • John will go to his second period class tomorrow. (action)
  • It will happen. (action)
  • She will see the difference. (be able to)
  • Eva will not drive the Volkswagen. (not do an action)
  • Joe will not study tonight because he has to work. (not be able to)

Would – to suggest an action, advice or show possibility in some circumstances

  • That would be nice. (advise/possibility/action)
  • She would go to the show, but she has too much homework. (action)
  • Mike would like to know what you think about his presentation. (action)
  • modal auxiliaries

Here are some useful links:-


Present Continuous

The present continuous is used to talk about present situations which we see as short-term or temporary . We use the present simple to talk about present situations which we see as long-term or permanent.

In these examples, the action is taking place at the time of speaking.

  • It’s raining.
  • Who is Kate talking to on the phone?
  • Look, somebody is trying to steal that man’s wallet.
  • I’m not looking. My eyes are closed tightly.

In these examples, the action is true at the present time but we don’t think it will be true in the long term.

  • I’m looking for a new apartment.
  • He’s thinking about leaving his job.
  • They’re considering making an appeal against the judgment.
  • Are you getting enough sleep?

In these examples, the action is at a definite point in the future and it has already been arranged.

  • I’m meeting her at 6.30.
  • They aren’t arriving until Tuesday.
  • We are having a special dinner at a top restaurant for all the senior managers.
  • Isn’t he coming to the dinner?



gerunds and infinitives

Both gerunds and infinitives can be nouns, which means they can do just about anything that a noun can do. Although they name things, like other nouns, they normally name activities rather than people or objects. Here are five noun-uses of gerunds and infinitives (and one additional non-noun use, the adjective complement, that we throw in here, free of charge).

Gerunds and infintives can both function as the subject of a sentence:

  1. Playing basketball takes up too much of her time.
  2. To play basketball for UConn is her favorite fantasy.

It is not impossible for an infinitive to appear at the beginning of a sentence as the subject (as in Ib), but it is more common for an infinitive to appear as a Subject Complement:

  1. Her favorite fantasy is to play basketball for UConn.

The gerund can also play this role:

  1. Her favorite fantasy is playing basketball for UConn.

Both of these verbal forms can further identify a noun when they play the role of Noun Complement and Appositive:

  1. Her desire to play basketball for UConn became an obsession.
  2. I could never understand her desire to play basketball for UConn.
  3. Her one burning desire in life, playing basketball for UConn, seemed a goal within reach.

The infinitive is often a complement used to help define an abstract noun. Here is a very partial list of abstract nouns, enough to suggest their nature. Try following these adjectives with an infinitive phrase (their desire to play in the championship game, a motivation to pass all their courses, herpermission to stay up late, a gentle reminder to do your work) to see how the phrase modifies and focuses the noun.


Infinitive phrases often follow certain adjectives. When this happens, the infinitive is said to play the role of Adjective Complement. (This is not a noun function, but we will include it here nonetheless.)

  1. She was hesitant to tell the coach of her plan.
  2. She was reluctant to tell her parents, also.
  3. But she would not have been content to play high school ball forever.

Here is a list of adjectives that you will often find in such constructions.


Although we do not find many infinitives in this next category, it is not uncommon to find gerunds taking on the role of Object of a Preposition:

  1. She wrote a newspaper article about dealing with college recruiters.
  2. She thanked her coach for helping her to deal with the pressure.

Two prepositions, except and but, will sometimes take an infinitive.

  1. The committee had no choice except to elect Frogbellow chairperson.
  2. What is left for us but to pack up our belongings and leave?

And, finally, both gerunds and infinitives can act as a Direct Object:

Here, however, all kinds of decisions have to be made, and some of these decisions will seem quite arbitrary. The next section is about making the choice between gerund and infinitive forms as direct object.

Verbs that take other verb forms as objects are called catenatives (from a word that means to link, as in a chain). Catenatives can be found at the head of a series of linked constructions, as in “We agreed to try to decide to stop eating between meals.” Catenatives are also characterized by their tendency to describe mental processes and resolutions. (Kolln)

Although it is seldom a serious problem for native English speakers, deciding whether to use a gerund or an infinitive after a verb can be perplexing among students for whom English is a second language. Why do we decide to run, but we would never decide running? On the other hand, we might avoid running, but we would not avoid to run. And finally, we might like running and would also like to run. It is clear that some verbs take gerunds, some verbs take infinitives, and some verbs take either. The following tables of verbs should help you understand the various options that regulate our choice of infinitive or gerund.

The verbs in the table below will be followed by an infinitive. We decided to leave. He manages, somehow, to win. It is threatening to rain. Notice that many, but not all, of these verbs suggest a potential event.

Some of the verbs in the following table may be followed by a gerund if they are describing an “actual, vivid or fulfilled action” (Frodesen). Welove running. They began farming the land. These are described, also, below.

Choice or Intent
Initiation, Completion, Incompletion
Mental Process
know how
learn remember
Request and Promise
seem tend

The verbs in the next table will often be followed by an infinitive, but they will also be accompanied by a second object. We asked the intruders to leave quietly. They taught the children to swim. The teacher convinced his students to try harder.

The verbs in blue, with an asterisk, can also follow the same pattern as the verbs in the table above (i.e., the second object is optional). We allwanted to go. They promised to be home early.

would like*

Gerunds accompany a form of the verb to go in many idiomatic expressions: Let’s go shopping. We went jogging yesterday. She goes bowlingevery Friday night.

The following verbs will be followed by a gerund. Did I mention reading that novel last summer? I recommend leaving while we can. I have quit smoking These verbs tend to describe actual events.

Initiation, Completion and Incompletion
get through
give up
Continuing Action
can’t help
keep on
don’t mind
can’t stand
Mental Process
can’t see

The verbs in the following table can be followed by either an infinitive or a gerund, and there will be virtually no difference in the meaning of the two sentences. I like to play basketball in the park. I like playing basketball in the park.

can’t stand

The verbs in this next, very small table can be followed by either an infinitive or a gerund, but there will be a difference in meaning. I stopped smoking means something quite different, for instance, from I stopped to smoke. The infinitive form will usually describe a potential action.

forget remember stop

Finally, the verbs below will be followed by either a gerund or a simple verb and a second subject will be required. I saw the team losing its composure. I overheard my landlord discussing a rent increase. (I heard Bill sing/singing.) These verbs involve the senses.

Verbs Involving Senses
listen to
look at

Verbs of perception — hear, see, watch — and a handful of other verbs — help, let, and make — will take what is called the bare infinitive, an infinitive without the particle “to.” This is true of these verbs only in the active voice.

  1. We watched him clear the table.
  2. They heard the thief crash through the door.
  3. She made me do it.
  4. We helped her finish the homework.

Using Possessives with Gerunds

Do we say “I can’t stand him singing in the shower,” or do we say “I can’t stand his singing in the shower”? Well, you have to decide what you find objectionable: is it him, the fact that he is singing in the shower, or is it the singing that is being done by him that you can’t stand? Chances are, it’s the latter, it’s the singing that belongs to him that bugs you. So we would say, “I can’t stand his singing in the shower.”

On the other hand, do we say “I noticed your standing in the alley last night”? Probably not, because it’s not the action that we noticed; it’s the person. So we’d say and write, instead, “I noticed you standing in the alley last night.” Usually, however, when a noun or pronoun precedes a gerund, that noun or pronoun takes a possessive form. This is especially true of formal, academic writing.

There are exceptions to this. (What would the study of language be without exceptions?)

  • When the noun preceding the gerund is modified by other words, use the common form of that noun, not the possessive.
  1. Federico was pleased by Carlos’s making the Dean’s List for the first time.
  2. Federico was pleased by Carlos, his oldest son, making the Dean’s List for the first time.

When the noun preceding the gerund is plural, collective, or abstract, use the common form of that noun, not the possessive.

  1. Professor Villa was amazed by her students working as hard as they did.
  2. The class working collaboratively was somebody else’s idea.
  3. It was a case of old age getting the better of them.

There are certain situations in which the possessive and the gerund create an awkward combination. This seems to be particularly true when indefinite pronouns are involved.

  1. I was shocked by somebody’s making that remark.
    This would be greatly improved by saying, instead . . .
  2. I was shocked that somebody would make that remark.

This is also true when the “owner” of the gerund comes wrapped in a noun phrase:

  • I was thankful for the guy next door shoveling snow from my driveway.



Possessive Adjectives

Definition: Possesive adjectives are used to show ownership or possession.

The possessive adjectives are:

Subject Pronoun Possessive adjectives
















For example:

  • That’s my folder.
    * ” My” is an adjective which shows that I am the owner of the folder.

A possessive adjective is similar or identical to a possessive pronoun; however, it is used as an adjective and modifies a noun or a noun phrase.

For example:

  • I can’t complete my assignment because I don’t have the textbook.
    * In this sentence, the possessive adjective “my” modifies the noun “assignment”.
  • What is your phone number?
    * Here the possessive adjective “your” is used to modify the noun phrase “phone number”
  • The cat chased its ball down the stairs and into the backyard.
    * In this sentence, the possessive adjective “its” modifies “ball”.



Prepositions-‘since’ and

What are the prepositions for and since?
The prepositions for and since express the duration of an action or situation. For example:

Paul: How long have you lived in Australia?
Jen: I have lived here for one year.

Nicole: How long have you worked downtown?
Kevin: I have worked there since 2007.

Both answers explain how long the action or situation has continued.

Here we will look at for and since only with the present perfect tense. When used with the present perfect,for and since mean that the events haven’t ended yet. So in the above examples, Jen is still in Australia and Kevin is still working downtown.

What is the sentence structure?
The structure is relatively easy. Always make sure the sentences use the present perfect, which consists ofhave + past participle. For example: I have lived in Australia for one year.

S + V + O/C  | for  | period of time

I have dated him  | for  | two months.
He has lived at home  | for  | almost one year.

S + V + O/C  | since  | starting point

I have dated him  | since  | October.
He has lived at home  | since  | last February.

In addition, the starting point may be expressed as a complete sentence in the past tense.

I have dated him  | since  | I graduated high school.
He has lived at home  | since  | he lost his job.

How are these prepositions used?
As previously stated, for and since express the duration of an action or situation. There is the added meaning that the action has continued up to now and the action will continue into the future. When you want to emphasize how long the action has continued, then use for.  When you want to emphasize when the action started, then use since. Let’s look at the following:

Hugh has studied medicine for three years.
This sentence focuses on the duration of Hugh’s studies, which is three years. He began in 2005, is still there in 2008 (now), and will continue to be there for the foreseeable future.

Hugh has studied medicine since 2005.
This sentence focuses on when Hugh started his studies, which was in 2005. Because we know when he began medical school, we also know how long he has been there.

Hugh has studied medicine since his mother died.
This sentence also focuses on the start of Hugh’s studies. The reference point is on an action rather than a date, and the description since his mother died provides additional information. Here the event (the death of Hugh’s mom) may provide the reason for his medical studies.

Is there additional information on for and since?
Yes, there is one point. For and since both place emphasis on the duration of the action, and may be used with other perfect tenses. But when used with a perfect progressive tense, a little more emphasis is placed on the action than the duration.


Preposition- ‘with’


1. With means in the company of.

Pattern 1: verb + with + noun
She is with her sister.
I danced with him.

Typical verbs used before with:
be, chat, converse, dance, drink, eat, go, leave, live, play, stay, study, talk, travel, walk, work


Pattern 2: verb + noun + with + noun
She spent the weekend with us.


Typical verbs used with this pattern:
dance, drink, eat, leave, play, spend, study


to be tied up with—to be occupied with at the moment
He can’t come to the phone; he is tied up with a client.
to be in a discussion with—to be talking seriously to
The boss is in a discussion with the manager right now.


With means in the same place as.


Pattern 1: be + with + noun
My hat is with my scarf.


Pattern 2: verb + noun + with + noun
Put your coat with mine.
She left her children with the babysitter.


Typical verbs:
keep, leave, put, store


3. With can mean added together.


Pattern: noun + with + noun
She always drinks her coffee with sugar.
The hotel with meals will cost 200 dollars a day.


4. With can describe something by indicating what it has.


Pattern 1: noun + with + noun
Did you see a woman with a baby a few minutes ago?
I have an article with pictures for my presentation.


Pattern 2: be + past participle + with + noun
You will be provided with two sets of keys.


Past participles used with this pattern:
caught, discovered, found, furnished, provided, seen



to be blessed with—to be lucky to have
He is blessed with good health and good looks.


5. With can describe a manner of behavior.


Pattern 1: verb + with + noun
Please handle the piano with care.
They accepted the proposal with enthusiasm.


Typical nouns used after with:
anger, care, compassion, courage, delight, discretion, disdain, distress, enthusiasm, fear, feeling, glee, grace, gratitude, happiness, hatred, humility, indifference, kindness, joy, love, optimism, pleasure, pride, regard, sadness, shame, skill, sympathy, tenderness, thanks, understanding


Pattern 2: verb + noun + with + noun
She greeted us with a big smile.
He always starts work with a grumble.


Typical nouns used after with:
air, cry, expression, frown, greeting, grumble, grunt, handshake, hug, kiss, look, promise, question, shudder, sigh, smile, smirk, thank you, word


Pattern 3: be + adjective + with + noun (thing)
Please be careful with the piano.
I hope he is successful with the mission.


Typical adjectives:
awkward, careful, clumsy, creative, dexterous, quick, skillful, slow, successful, talented, unsuccessful


Pattern 4: be + adjective + with + noun (person)
She is very patient with me.
He hasn’t been sympathetic with her problems.


Typical adjectives:
awkward, belligerent, curt, flexible, forthcoming, frank, friendly, generous, helpful, honest, impatient, open, patient, stiff, sympathetic, truthful


6. With can describe someone’s feelings about something.


Pattern: be + adjective + with + noun
The child was bored with her toys.
They are very happy with their new home.


Typical adjectives used with this pattern:
bored, comfortable, content, delighted, disappointed, frustrated, happy, impressed, pleased, satisfied, thrilled, uncomfortable, unhappy, upset


to be in love with—to have a romantic feeling toward
He is (madly) in love with her.


7. With can indicate a working relationship.


Pattern 1: be + with + noun
She is with a real estate company.


Pattern 2: be + past participle + with + noun
He is involved with that organization.
They are not concerned with our group.


Pattern 3: work + with + noun
His mother works with us.


8. With can indicate the instrument or tool used for an action.


Pattern 1: verb + with + noun
She writes with a pen.


Typical verbs used before with:
color, clean, cut, dig, draw, eat, paint, serve, sweep, wash, write


Pattern 2: verb + noun + with + noun
The boy drew a flower with his crayons.
I swept the garage with a big broom.


Typical verbs:
attach, clean, clear, cut, dig, draw, dry, eat, erase, fasten, hit, move, nail, open, paint, plow, season, serve, sweep, wash, write


9. With can indicate a noun that covers or fills an area.


Pattern: verb + noun + with + noun
She filled the pitcher with lemonade.
They planted the bed with white flowers.


Typical verbs:
cover, cram, fill, frost, heap, ice, pack, paint, plant, smear, spread, sprinkle, stuff


10. With can indicate struggle


Pattern 1: verb + with + noun
My colleague disagrees with the management.
He is always fighting with his brother.


Typical verbs:
argue, clash, compete, conflict, differ, disagree, fight, quarrel, wrestle


to have it out with—to express anger verbally
After two years of frustration, he finally had it out with his boss.


Pattern 2: have + a + noun + with
She has an argument with him every morning.
They are having a quarrel with the neighbors right now.


Typical nouns:
argument, bout, contest, disagreement, fight, match, quarrel

Pattern 3: be + in + noun + with
She is in competition with him for the promotion.
It’s too bad your ideas are in conflict with those of the majority.


11. With can indicate support or cooperation.


Pattern 1: verb + with + noun
They are cooperating with the authorities.
You have to comply with the rules.


Typical verbs:
agree, collaborate, comply, concur, cooperate, empathize, harmonize, help, negotiate, sympathize, work


to get along with—to cooperate with
I get along with my roommate, even though she is not my best friend.
to be with—to support
Don’t be nervous when you are giving your speech; we are all with you.


Pattern 2: verb + a + noun + with + noun
She signed a contract with us.


Typical nouns:
agreement, business, contract, friendship, partnership, relationship


to do business with—to have negotiations with
We don’t do business with them anymore.


Pattern 3: be + in + noun + with + noun
Are you in agreement with the decisions they made?


Typical nouns before with:
accord, agreement, cahoots, concert, collaboration, compliance, concurrence, cooperation, harmony, partnership, sympathy


12. With means at the same time as.
He rises with the sun.
They opened the show with a song.


Typical verbs:
begin, celebrate, close, dedicate, end, start


13. With means at the same rate as.
Wine improves with age.
Wisdom comes with experience.
With time, you will forget.


14. With means in the same direction as.


Pattern: verb + with + the + noun
It will take longer because we will be with the traffic.
They drifted down the river with the current.


Typical verbs used before with:
be, cruise, drift, drive, float, go, ride, sail


Typical nouns used after with the:
current, flow, tide, traffic, wind


15. With can indicate separation.


Pattern: verb expression + with + noun
I hate to part with my old books.
Our company severed relations with that client years ago.
He is through with her; he doesn’t want to see her again.


Typical verb expressions used before with:
be finished, be through, break up, cut ties, fall out, part, part company, sever relations, split up


16. With is used in a comparison or contrast.


Pattern 1: noun + verb + with + noun
Your blouse clashes with your skirt.


Verbs commonly used with this pattern:
clash, compare, contrast, go, look good


Pattern 2: compare/contrast + noun + with + noun
Let’s compare this computer with that one.


17. With can indicate equality.


Pattern: be + adjective + with + noun
This side is not even with that side.
Our team is tied with theirs: the score is two to two.


Typical adjectives used before with:
comparable, even, level, on a par, parallel, tied


18. With can indicate the cause of a condition.


Pattern 1: adjective + with + noun
The branches of the trees were heavy with snow.
The girl’s face is wet with tears.


Pattern 2: verb in gerund form + with + noun
The newlyweds were beaming with happiness.


Typical verbs used before with:
aching, beaming, crying, dancing, fuming, screaming, shouting, smiling, trembling


Typical nouns used after with:
anger, fear, glee, happiness, joy, mirth, rage, shame, zeal


Pattern 3: with + the + noun
With the traffic in this city, it takes a long time to get to work.
Their lifestyle changed completely with the birth of their first baby.


Typical nouns used after with the:
arrival, bills, birth, change, crime, death, decrease, departure, guests, increase, move, problems, rain, traffic, trouble, worries


Pattern 4: with + (all) + possessive noun or pronoun + noun
With all his talent, he should be famous.
She is quite popular, with all her beauty and charm.


Typical nouns after with:
beauty, charm, education, influence, intelligence, money, power, talent


19. With can mean despite.


Pattern: with + (all) + possessive noun or pronoun + noun
I love him with all his faults.
With all her problems, she is quite serene.


20. Expressions


to be with someone—to follow or understand
Please repeat that; I’m not with you.


to be charged with something—to be formally accused of a crime
The boy was charged with breaking and entering.


Down with something—a rallying call to eliminate oppressors
Down with the tyrants!


Off with someone—a call for someone to leave
Off with you, and don’t come back!


21. Phrasal verbs


(get) on with (nonseparable)—to start something right away
Let’s get on with this job; I want to go home early.
On with the show!


get away with—escape a misdeed without penalty
He tore up his parking fine and got away with it.


put up with—tolerate
The house is beautiful, but I can’t put up with the noise of the airplanes.






The preposition-‘for’

1. with the object or purpose of: to run for exercise.
2. intended to belong to, or be used in connection with: equipment for the army; a closet for dishes.
3. suiting the purposes or needs of: medicine for the aged.
4. in order to obtain, gain, or acquire: a suit for alimony; to work for wages.
5. (used to express a wish, as of something to be experienced or obtained): O, for a cold drink!
6. sensitive or responsive to: an eye for beauty.
7. desirous of: a longing for something; a taste for fancy clothes.
8. in consideration or payment of; in return for: three for a dollar; to be thanked for one’s efforts.
9. appropriate or adapted to: a subject for speculation; clothes for winter.
10. with regard or respect to: pressed for time; too warm for April.
11. during the continuance of: for a long time.
12. in favor of; on the side of: to be for honest government.
13. in place of; instead of: a substitute for butter.
14. in the interest of; on behalf of: to act for a client.
15. in exchange for; as an offset to: blow for blow; money for goods.
16. in punishment of: payment for the crime.
17. in honor of: to give a dinner for a person.
18. with the purpose of reaching: to start for London.
19. contributive to: for the advantage of everybody.
20. in order to save: to flee for one’s life.
21. in order to become: to train recruits for soldiers.
22. in assignment or attribution to: an appointment for the afternoon; That’s for you to decide.
23. such as to allow of or to require: too many for separate mention.
24. such as results in: his reason for going.
25. as affecting the interests or circumstances of: bad for one’s health.
26. in proportion or with reference to: He is tall for his age.
27. in the character of; as being: to know a thing for a fact.
28. by reason of; because of: to shout for joy; a city famed for its beauty.
29. in spite of: He’s a decent guy for all that.
30. to the extent or amount of: to walk for a mile.
31. (used to introduce a subject in an infinitive phrase): It’s time for me to go.
32. (used to indicate the number of successes out of a specified number of attempts): The batter was 2 for 4 in the game.



1) We use the preposition in to indicate something physically inside a place.

  • See you in the classroom!
  • I like swimming in the sea.
  • We meet every day in that bar at ten o’clock.

2) We use the preposition on to indicate the position on a surface of something.

  • Your mobile is on the television.
  • There is an old big tree on the top of the hill.
  • I like surfing on the waves.

3) We use the preposition at to indicate a reference point.

  • See you at the Cinema Luxor.
  • The shop is at the top of the steps.
  • They have a little house at the end of the street.

Time Expressions

1) We use the preposition in for years, seasons, months and moments of the day.

in the twentieth century
the 1880s
spring/ summer
the morning/ the evening

– I usually go to Sardinia in the summer.
– They worked in a restaurant in 1998.

2) We use the preposition on for completed dates, days of the week, holiday days.

on 21 April
Christmas Day
Saturday night

– I often stay with my parents on Christmas Day.
– We usually play tennis on Sunday.

3) We use the preposition at for a reference point in time.

at six o’clock

– See you at ten o’clock near the school.
– What do you usually do at night?



Rules in Subject Verb Agreement

1. Subjects and verbs must agree in number. This is the cornerstone rule that forms the background of the concept.

The dog growls when he is angry. The dogs growl when they are angry.

2. Don’t get confused by the words that come between the subject and verb; they do not affect agreement.

The dog, who is chewing on my jeans, is usually very good.

3. Prepositional phrases between the subject and verb usually do not affect agreement.

The colors of the rainbow are beautiful.

4. When sentences start with “there” or “here,” the subject will always be placed after the verb, so care needs to be taken to identify it correctly.

There is a problem with the balance sheet.Here are the papers you requested.

5. Subjects don’t always come before verbs in questions. Make sure you accurately identify the subject before deciding on the proper verb form to use.

Does Lefty usually eat grass? Where are the pieces of this puzzle.

6. If two subjects are joined by and, they typically require a plural verb form.

The cow and the pig are jumping over the moon.

7. The verb is singular if the two subjects separated by and refer to the same person or thing.

Red beans and rice is my mom’s favorite dish.

8. If the words each, every, or no come before the subject, the verb is singular.

No smoking and drinking is allowed.Every man and woman is required to check in.

9. If the subjects are both singular and are connected by the words or, nor, neither/nor, either/or, and not only/but also the verb is singular.

Jessica or Christian is to blame for the accident.

10. The only time when the object of the preposition factors into the decision of plural or singular verb forms is when noun and pronoun subjects like some, half, none, more, all, etc. are followed by a prepositional phrase. In these sentences, the object of the preposition determines the form of the verb.

All of the chicken is gone.All of the chickens are gone.

11. The singular verb form is usually used for units of measurement.

Four quarts of oil was required to get the car running.

12. If the subjects are both plural and are connected by the words or, nor, neither/nor, either/or, and not only/but also, the verb is plural.

Dogs and cats are both available at the pound.

13. If one subject is singular and one plural and the words are connected by the wordsor, nor, neither/nor, either/or, and not only/but also, you use the verb form of the subject that is nearest the verb.

Do your sisters or your girlfriend want any pizza?

14. Indefinite pronouns typically take singular verbs.

Everybody wants to be loved.

15. * Except for the pronouns (few, many, several, both) that always take the plural form.

Few were left alive after the flood.

16. If two infinitives are separated by and they take the plural form of the verb.

To walk and to chew gum require great skill.

17. When gerunds are used as the subject of a sentence they take the singular verb form of the verb, but when they are linked by and they take the plural form.

Standing in the water was a bad idea.Swimming in the ocean and playing drumsare my hobbies.

18. Collective nouns like herd, senate, class, crowd, etc. usually take a singular verb form.

The herd is stampeding.

19. Titles of books, movies, novels, etc. are treated as singular and take a singular verb.

The Burbs is a movie starring Tom Hanks.

20. Final Rule – Remember, only the subject affects the verb!