When the parts of a compound subject are joined by or, but, either … or, neither … nor, not only … but also the verb must agree with the subject nearest to the verb.
- Neither the Oregon players nor the coach was overconfident.
“Coach” is closest to the verb so the verb agrees with “coach.”
- Neither the Oregon coach nor the players were intimidated by Arizona.
Just the reverse here. “Players” is closest.
Collective nouns and certain plural words may take singular or plural verbs-depending on the meaning in the sentence.
TEST: If the word indicates people or things working together as an identifiable unit, a singular verb is used.
- The jury was seated at 9 a.m.
“It” was seated.
- The jury were being interviewed by the media.
The subjects are the individual members of the jury; the sentence could be rewritten as: “The jurors were … “)
- Politics is a hot topic.
Politics as a single topic.
- The mayor’s politics are offensive.
Politics in this case can be seen as several actions over time.
The pronouns ANY, NONE or SOME and the nouns ALL and MOST:
1) take singular verbs when they refer to a unit or quantity
- Some of the money was missing.
An amount of money.
2) take plural verbs when they refer to number or individuals
- Some of the gold coins were missing.
A number of coins.
The pronoun NONE:
1) takes a singular verb when its meaning is “No Single One” or “Not One”
- None of the gold coins was missing.
Not one of the coins
2) takes a plural verb when its meaning is “No Two” or “No Amount”
- None of the goods were missing.
no amount of the goods
- None of the forests were destroyed.
no amount of the forests
When the subject is a fraction or a word such as HALF, PART, PLENTY or REST, its intended number is suggested by the object of the preposition that follows it.
- Three-fourths of the enemy’s army is wounded.
- Three-fourths of the enemy’s soldiers are wounded.