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Most questions in the Sentence Error Identification part of the Civil Service Exam will include those which make use of correlative conjunctions “Neither – Nor” and “Either – Or”.
RULE: In sentences with ‘Neither-Nor’ or ‘Either-Or’, or just ‘Or’ or ‘Nor’, remember that if both the subjects are singular, the verb must be singular. If both are plural, then the verb is plural.
Does a singular collective noun take a singular or plural verb? It depends.
Rule: Use a singular verb for a collective noun if the noun is acting as one unit. If the members of the collective noun do not agree or are acting differently from each other, use a plural verb.
First things first, what is a Collective Noun? A collective noun is a word for a group of specific items, animals or people.
Here are some examples of collective nouns:
armada company clan caravan
school thicket den flock
nest sounder platoon sloth
swarm yoke lodge committee
class jury audience army
council family group team
Here are some examples on how the rule works:
- The flute ensemble are tuning their instruments.
- The flute ensemble is playing at the Kiwanis Music Festival.
- The pack of dogs were running off in different directions.
- The pack of dogs is chasing after that poor deer.
- The townsfolk cheers the hometown little league.
- The troop disappear in different directions.
- Every afternoon, the baseball team goes out to the field for practice.
- The jury disagree about the guilt of the accused and are at lost for a final decision.
What are Indefinite Pronouns?
Indefinite pronouns refer to those words which replace nouns without specifying which noun they replace.
Indefinite Pronouns can be Singular or Plural.
(a) Singular indefinite pronouns: another, anybody, anyone, anything, each, either, everybody, everyone, everything, little, much, neither, nobody, no one, nothing, one, other, somebody, someone, something, less, little, much.
Singular indefinite pronouns are used with singular verbs.
- Everybody is awake
- Everyone is invited to the party.
- Nobody wants to be the school mascot.
- I have tried everything but nothing makes her smile.
(b) Plural indefinite pronouns: both, few, some, fewer, many, others, several, all.
Plural indefinite pronouns are used with plural verbs.
- Others do not want to be involved in this issue.
- Both are very responsible kids.
- Many are called but few are chosen.
Note, however, that some indefinite pronouns can be singular in one context and plural in another. It all depends on how the pronoun is used in the sentence or in the paragraph. Here are some indefinite pronouns which can sometimes be used as singular, sometimes plural.
All – may refer to the whole quantity or it can refer to individual things or people.
- All is forgotten
- All are here.
Any – may refer to one or many unspecified pieces, objects, or people.
- Any doctor can help you. You don’t have to find a specialist.
- I do not have any suitcases with me.
More – a greater quantity
- More have left (referring to more guests).
- There is more where that came from.
Most – nearly all
- Most have declined.
- Most is gone.
None – not any, no one
- None of the students got an A.
- None of the cake was eaten.
Some – refers to an unspecified quantity of something.
- Here is some.
- Some have arrived.
Such – referring to something which belongs to the type mentioned.
- Such is not a good idea.
- Such words are not acceptable in formal conversations.