Quantity expressions can be troublesome when it comes to subject-verb agreement. The rules below govern quantity expressions with both singular and plural verbs.
- When a quantity word is followed by a prepositional phrase, the verb usually agrees with the quantity word.
One of the presidential candidates is in town today.
Three of my classes were cancelled yesterday!
- Some expressions of quantity can take either a singular or a plural verb depending on whether the noun in the prepositional phrase is singular or plural.
|All of the…||All of the restaurant was full.||All of the restaurants were full.|
|A lot of…||A lot of the money was torn.||A lot of the bills were torn.|
|Some of the…||Some of the pizza has been eaten.||Some of the pizzas have been eaten.|
|One-half (third, quarter) of the…||One-third of the population is going to vote.||One-third of the people are going to vote.|
- The quantity word none takes a singular verb. Remember that none means “not one” (and “one” is singular).
I looked at all the paintings. None is interesting to me.
None of the paintings is interesting to me. (formal)
- In spoken English, most people use a plural verb when a plural noun follows none. Never use a plural verb with none in formal academic writing.
Informal use only: None of the paintings are interesting to me.
- When you use the following quantity words alone as subjects, without objects of prepositions after them, they take the verbs indicated below.
|One is / makes||Both are / need|
|A little is / falls||A few are / fall|
|Each is / needs|
|Every is / has|
Exercise 1: Look around your classroom as you complete these sentences. Be sure to consider quantity when choosing a verb. The first one has been done for you.
- One of my classmates ____is sleeping in class______
None of my friends________________________
Some of the people in class___________________
Some of the desks _________________________
No one in the class_________________________
One-half of the class________________________
One-half of the students_____________________
Exercise 2: As you read the paragraph, underline the correct form of the verb twice in parentheses
Careers in Information Technology
The number of people choosing a career in information technology (is increasing, are increasing) year by year. This decision is a smart one, for most companies now (need, needs) someone with advanced computer knowledge. Web design, computer graphics, and software development (is, are) just some of the areas that (is, are) in demand. Anyone with the skill to manipulate a keyboard and be creative (has, have) the opportunity to find an excellent employer. For those who (is not, are not) happy working for someone, other opportunities (exist, exists). Consulting (is, are) an excellent way to make a good living but not be tied down to one fob. People who like to make their own hours, choose their contracts, and decide how much they are willing to work (thrive, thrives) on consulting work. Overall, a career in information technology, one of the most booming sectors that (has developed, have developed) over the last ten years, (is, are) a smart choice.