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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Module 10: VERB: Perfect Tenses

Posted by: Carlo A. Sangutan
Sources: English Plus A Communicative Approach by Ida Yap Patron
                English Grammar Notes c/o Prof. Rufina C. Esagre


This module intends to let the students:
  • distinguish and identify what perfect tenses have expressed;
  • complete sentences using correct tenses of the verb; and
  • differentiate perfect tenses from simple tenses.


       "Practice makes perfect. Yet nobody's perfect. So why practice?" This is what Ai Ai de las Alas quoted in her movie, "Ang Tanging Ina N'yong Lahat." What a funny quote as how she said it but what she quoted is a truth. Everyone around the world aims to be perfect but no one ever stepped to that level. Some of us often describe individuals that they are perfect. Others idolize a person for they think that idols are perfect. Again, nobody is perfect. But in English grammar, being perfect is described to the tenses of the verbs.

Language Focused

       The third set of tenses is the perfect tenses. This set is also divided into three: present perfect, past perfect and future perfect tenses.

Q: If we talk about present perfect tense, how is it formed?

       The present perfect tense is formed by using either has or have and the past participle form of the verb.

     ☻has + win(past participle) = has won
     ☻have + finish(past participle) = have finished

Q: What does it express?

       This tense is used to express:

1. An action that began in the past and continues to the present.

     ☻Benjamin Suarez has won in the elections consistently since 1990.
     ☻The school has granted scholarship since its foundation.

2. An action that took place in the past on conditions that the definite time in the past is not mentioned.

     ☻He has gone around the world.
     ☻I have seen the rock opera, Tommy.

3. An action that has just been completed. (The word 'just' is usually seen.)

     ☻Jasmine has just finished compiling a comprehensive report on the life and ways of Igorots.
     ☻The delegates have just voted in favor of the parliamentary form of government.

Q: For further knowledge about present perfect tense, what are some time expressions that are commonly used to express its tense?

       The time expressions with the present tense are:

1. Since + a time reference shows that the action began in the past and continues to the present.

2. For + a time reference shows the duration of the time the action has been going on.

3. Expressions like recently, lately, from time to time, and all frequency adverbs when used with the present perfect tense indicate an indefinite past time.

4. Other time expressions commonly used with the present perfect tense are: already, yet, and just.
     *already (w/ the present perfect tense) → means that the action has been completed ahead of time
     *yet → means "up to this time" (affirmative) or "not up to this time" (negative)
     *just  → expresses an action completed in the immediate past or just completed.

Q: What makes it different from the time expressions used with the simple past tense?

       The time expressions used with the simple past tense express a definite past time.

1. A time reference + ago indicates the length of time measured from the present into the past.

2. Time expressions like yesterday, last year, in 2008, when I was 2 years old indicate a definite past time.

Q: There is also what we call past perfect tense. How is it formed?

       The past perfect tense is formed by adding had(past form of have) to the past participle form of the verb.

     ☻had + tame(past participle) = had tamed

     ☻had + lose(past participle) = had lost

Q: What does it express?

       This tense is used to express the earlier of two past actions. In other words, if one action happened before another action in the past, the past perfect tense is used in the first action and the simple past tense in the second action. Since there are two past actions being referred to, a complex sentence or two clauses are produced. The connectives before, after, or when may be used to join the two clauses.

     ☻Ernesto Maceda had been a cabinet member before he became a senator.
     ☻Mr. Gomez received another loan after he had settled his final obligation.
     ☻He had understood the value of loving and caring when he left the fox.

Q: What can be figured out from the examples given above?

   First Sentence     : had been is the 1st action and became is the 2nd action
   Second Sentence : had settled is the 1st action and received is the 2nd action
   Third Sentence   : had understood is the 1st action and left is the 2nd action

       From these sentences, the first action does not always come at the beginning of the sentence. Sometimes, the second action begins the sentence like what is stated in the second sentence.

Q: Aside from the two perfect tenses, there is also future perfect tense. What does it express?

       The future perfect tense is very rarely used. It is used to show an activity that will be completed at some specific time in the future. In other words, it is used to express an action that shall be completed before a definite time in the future.

Q: What is its structure?

       It is actually made up of either shall have or will have and the past participle of the verb.

Structure:     will have + do(past participle) = will have done
                     shall have + meet(past participle) = shall have met

     ☻By March next year, you shall have graduated.
     ☻The Philippines will have completed its industrialization program 2050.

Note: All sentences containing future perfect construction must also include a time expression usually beginning by when or by, such as by this time next year, or when I go back to my hometown.

     ☻When I go back to my hometown, my neighbors will have harvested their first crop of mangoes and durian.

Test of Learning

     A. Complete the sentences by using the present perfect tense of the verbs given in the parentheses.

1. The President _____ (deliver) his speech.
2. I _____ (study) the details of the case.
3. Both the La Salle and Ateneo teams _____ (practice) well.
4. The Chairman of the Board _____ (notice) the sluggishness of the new janitor.
5. The students were singing a while ago but now they _____ (stop).
6. The fowers were still blooming beautifully but suddenly they all _____ (wilt).
7. Ramon _____ (visit) his grandparents for 5 years.
8. Our instructor _____ (teach) in this institution for 12 years.
9. She told me that she _____ (support) the Kilusan ng Wastong Pagkain.
10. I remarked that I _____ (eat-not) this sort of delicacy yet.

     B. Give the past perfect tense of the verbs in the parentheses.

1. The Pope said that he _____ (oppose) the legalization of abortion.
2. By the time she left the College, she _____ (be) with it for thirteen years.
3. The Chinese tourist were unable to leave as the airplane _____ (develop) engine trouble.
4. The Peace Corps volunteer _____ (learn) the native language of the people before she came to the Philippines.
5. We did not attend the premiere of that movie because we _____ (see) that film before.
6. The porter said that the lawyer _____ (just leave) for the office.
7. If you _____ (study) diligently, you would have passed.
8. Archbishop Sy _____ (speak) on the social obligation of the church.
9. If the teacher _____ (know) that you were ill, he would send you home.
10. The doctor _____ (expect) the patient to report back.

     C. Give the future perfect tense of the verbs in the parentheses.

1. By the time you finished dressing, the taxi _____ (arrive).
2. On July 14, my parents _____ (marry) for thirty years.
3. The English class _____ (visit) the museum tomorrow.
4. The group _____ (terminate) its session next week.
5. In two years or so, Mandy _____ (forget) the fellow who broke her heart.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Module 9: VERB: Progressive Tenses

Posted by: Carlo A. Sangutan
Sources: English Plus A Communicative Approach by Ida Yap Patron
                English Grammar Notes c/o Prof. Rufina C. Esagre


This module intends to let the students:
  • distinguish present, past and future progressive tenses;
  • identify what progressive tenses have expressed; and
  • complete sentences using correct tenses of the verb.


       We all know that most of us want this what we call 'progress'. Progress can mean advancement. Our country today is facing to different problems like financial problems. We aim for progress or shall we say improvement of our country's status. How can we solve these problems if there is no cooperation among people? So, if we aim to reach 'progress', we should help each other and always seek for good ways to develop the status of our beloved country. This word 'progress' can also mean proficiency. When we are trying to learn things just like languages, we cannot deny the fact that we aim the progress of our learning. we want our learning to be progressive. But we should not limit our minds to those definitions given above since in English grammar, being progressive is also applied to tenses of verbs which means continuous.

Language Focused

       The second set of tenses is the progressive tenses. It denotes actions which are continuous or in other words, on-going actions. From being simple, tenses have stepped onto the next level. This set is actually divided also into three: present progressive, past progressive and future progressive tenses.

Q: How is the present progressive tense of the verbs formed?

       The present progressive tense is formed with the use of the present forms of verb be which are am, is, and are plus the -ing form of the main verb.

Q: What does it indicate?

       The present continuous or present progressive tense indicates:

1. An action going on at the time of speaking

     ☻They are identifying the victims.
     ☻Jack is reflecting our own fears.

2. Simple futurity or a future action

     ☻My father is leaving for the province tonight.
     ☻The students are taking up the essay tomorrow.

       Some expressions that indicate that the action is going on at the time of speaking are right now, as of this moment, and at present. Time clauses starting with while also indicate an action in progress.

Q: How about past progressive tense? What is its structure?

       The past continuous or past progressive tense is made up of either was or were which are the past forms of the verb be and the -ing form of the main verb.

Q: What does it suggest?

       The past continuous or past progressive tense suggests:

1. A past action going on at some specific past time.


Situation - You seemed to be having a very lively discussion in your English class. What were you talking about?

     ☻We were talking about Arnold. We were giving him some advice on how to become a more trustful person. We were still discussing it until 2:00 PM. Finally, our teacher, who was listening to our discussion, interrupted us.

2. A past action going on at the time when another past action occurred. It expresses two past actions as indicated in the main and dependent clause - the first is expressed in the past progressive while the second is in the simple past.

     ☻While or teacher was giving her opinion on Arnold's action, the bell rang.
     ☻A loud explosion was heard while they were holding a meeting.

3. The past progressive of go and an infinitive is used to denote an action which was planned or intended but did not occur.

     ☻He was going to approach her but he did not have enough courage.
     ☻The students of Ateneo de Manila were going to visit the zoo but it rained cats and dogs.

Note: When two past actions and the sequence of their occurrence are referred to, the two clauses in the sentence will indicate one past action which occurred while another past action was going on. This is expressed in the simple past for one past action and the past progressive for the action in progress. The connective while is commonly used in this case.

     ☻While James was falling down the cliff, he grabbed a branch that stopped his fall.

     ☻Ramon heard a voice from somewhere while he was yelling for hours and was almost giving up.

       On the other hand, when the two past actions have taken place at the same time, the past tense for both verbs are used. The clauses are commonly joined by when.

     ☻When Jack walked along a steep cliff, a man saw him.
     ☻Ralph promised to serve God for the rest of his life when he heard His voice.

Q: There is also what we call future progressive tense. What does it express?

       Actually, future continuous or future progressive tense expresses the same as what simple future tense expresses that indicates an action which will take place in the future. But the little difference is that, future progressive tense focuses on on-going actions in some future time.

Q: How is it formed?

       It is formed by just simply using either will be or shall be plus the -ing form of the verb.

     ☻Women will be working with men in almost areas very soon.
     ☻The farmers will be receiving help from the government.

Note: There are other ways to express futurity such as: the simple present, the present progressive and the future progressive tenses. The following constructions may also be used:

     a.) am, is, or are + going + to + the main verb
     b.) am, is, or are + about to + the main verb

     ☻The Filipino masses are going to get stronger someday.
     ☻They are about to unify for genuine change.

       *The last sentence has no time expression because about to means in the very near future.

Test of Learning

     A. Give the present progressive tense of the verbs to complete each sentence.

1. The sun _______. (shine)
2. What ___ you ____? (do)
3. It _______ again. (rain)
4. Yes, he _______ his best now. (try)
5. They _______ to China next year. (go)
6. I _______ from Manila International Airport. (leave)
7. Jommy _______ here this weekend. (come)
8. ___ you ____ the truth? (tell)
9. We ___ just ____ breakfast. (have)
10. The birds _______. (sing)

     B. Turn the underlined verbs into the past progressive by rewriting the sentences using that form.

     ►I ran to the station and I met the mother of my friend.
          → As I was running to the station, I met the mother of my friend.

1. The girls played badminton the whole afternoon.
2. Mother washed my shirts while my cousins kept on bothering her.
3. He said that the carpenters worked all day on Saturday.
4. The man looked at the wares; the thief stole his briefcase.
5. I dug the garden and Mary played tennis.
6. She worked diligently; her friends amused themselves.
7. He looked at the barn; his wife surveyed the entire house.
8. He often complained that the house was warm.
9. They prepared for the picnic; it rained.
10. What did she say about your latest girlfriend?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Module 8: VERB: Simple Tenses

Posted by: Carlo A. Sangutan
Sources: English Plus A Communicative Approach by Ida Yap Patron
                English Grammar Notes c/o Prof. Rufina C. Esagre


This module intends to let the students:
  • distinguish simple present, past, and future tenses;
  • identify what simple tenses have expressed; and
  • complete sentences using correct tenses of the verb


       Most of us here in the world like to have this what we call simplicity. Simplicity can mean clearness or innocence. It is the artlessness of the mind and the absence of excessive or artificial ornament. This will help us acquire the freedom from duplicity. Being simple makes us unique from others. In real life situations, being simple is very important because if we are simple, we can show to others our originality. It is but we should not limit this characteristic only to human beings for animals and things have it too. In English grammar, simplicity is also there especially in the tenses of verbs.

Language Focused

       Actually, a verb (a word expressing an action) has its own properties. One of its properties is tense.

Q: What is tense?

       Tense is a verb attribute that shows the time of the action, condition or state of being in relation to the time of speaking or writing. Verbs have forms indicating the present, past or future time. There are actually four sets of tenses and one of them is the simple tenses. Simple tenses are divided into three main divisions: simple present, simple past and simple future tenses.

Q: What is simple present tense all about?

       The simple present tense goes this way. The present for all verbs (be is excluded) is in the simple form for all persons, except the third person singular which takes the s-form or the singular form of the verb. The s-form is simply a verb form that ends in s or es. The s-form of be is is; that of have is has.

Q: What does simple present tense express?

       The simple present tense is used to express the following:

1. A present fact or current situation

     ☻Students today depend greatly on the advanced technology.
     ☻My teacher now emphasizes the values of patience and industry.

2. Habitual action → from time in the past through the present and into the future.

     ☻We celebrate Christmas Day every 25th of December.
     ☻He changes the tires of his car every five years.

3. A general or all-time truth

     ☻God's commandments guide us to do good things.
     ☻Anger doesn't solve problems.

4. Simple futurity or future action → usually in headlines about flights.

     ☻He flies next month.
     ☻SS Veronica sails tonight.

5. Historical present → used in the narration of past events, in writing book reviews as well as summaries, and heading news reports.

     ☻Teresias predicts Oedipus' downfall.
     ☻"Makati Mayor Bans Long Hair." - News Title

6. Universal fact

     ☻The planets revolve around the sun.
     ☻All living things have souls.

7. Permanent condition

     ☻The North Pole is a region of snow and ice.
     ☻Water has three states: solid, liquid, and gaseous.

8. Permanent location

     ☻The sun is 83, 000, 000 miles away from the earth.
     ☻Baguio is up north while Zamboanga is down south.

Q: Aside from the ordinary form of the simple present tense, is there another form of the tense?

       Actually, there is also the emphatic form which uses either do or does for an auxiliary.

     ☻Printed fabrics fill the textile market today. (ordinary)
     ☻Printed fabrics do fill the textile market today. (emphatic)

Q: How about simple past tense? What is it all about?

       The simple past tense expresses an action, condition, or situation that took place at a definite in the past. This action, condition or situation is not carried over to the present. The past tense may be used with time expressions such as yesterday, a while ago, and last week.

     ☻Jack became desperate.
     ☻The President called an emergency meeting yesterday to define the position of the Philippines in the wake of earthquake and tsunami happened in Japan.

       Regular verbs form their past by adding -d or -ed to the simple form.

          hope   - hoped                         call    - called
          walk   - walked                    answer - answered

       Irregular verbs form their past in a variety of ways.

          choose - chose                         buy - bought
          lose      - lost                            give - gave

Q: There is also what we call simple future tense. What does it express?

       The simple future tense is used to express an action that will take place in the future. The verb form is a combination of either will or shall and the simple form of the verb.

     ☻The contract will expire next year.
     ☻We shall have classes for 192 days.

Test of Learning

     A. Fill in the blanks with the correct present forms of the verbs in the parentheses.

1. A calm and rational person _____ (keep) his or her coolness.
2. Dreams _____ (do) vanish.
3. You _____ (need) to make your dreams come true.
4. Some people _____ (dwell) on their dreams and ambitions in life.
5. The wicked always _____ (tell) lies about other people.
6. Humility _____ (reflect) on a person's gratefulness.
7. Even friends and kin _____ (challenge) our patience.
8. Forgiveness _____ (allow) us to keep peace with ourselves.

     B. Fill in the blanks with the correct past forms of the verbs in the parentheses.

1. They _____ (break) their promise.
2. I _____ (cut) the roses across the lawn.
3. The soldiers _____ (fight) bravely during the war.
4. She _____ (answer) questions quickly.
5. Luna _____ (paint) the "Spolarium".

     C. Fill in the blanks with the correct form of the verb in each sentence.

1. Love _____ (beget) love.
2. When the strong winds came, we _____ (think) of leaving.
3. Superstitions _____ (influence) a lot of people.
4. She _____ (hurt) herself last night.
5. I _____ (come) to school tomorrow as early as I can.
6. Mother _____ (feed) the dogs early yesterday.
7. Josefa _____ (visit) her parents every weekend.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Module 7: Modals

Posted by: Carlo A. Sangutan
Sources: English Plus A Communicative Approach by Ida Yap Patron
                English Grammar Notes c/o Prof. Rufina C. Esagre


This module intends to let the students:
  • use the appropriate modals for specific situations;
  • write sentences using some modals; and
  • identify the meaning of modals as used in sentences.


       "No man is an island." It is a quote related to life. One cannot live in this world alone. No one can survive without the help of others. We always need a companion to live life to the fullest. Help greatly dominates the whole world nowadays. We never exist if not because of our parents. Even on things, help is greatly needed just like in English grammar. There are certain words that are needed to have statements with exact and intensified meanings.

       Sentences can now be expressed in different moods of what the speaker feels by using the helping words.

Language Activity

       Read the following dialogue.

Little Eagle  : It must be majestic to fly and see the earth from the sky.
Prairie Eagle: You couldn't be like them. You are a prairie chicken.
Little Eagle  : I ought to try. I must do what I was created for.
Prairie Eagle: I must tell you the truth. You are meant to pick on garbage and cluck around.
Little Eagle  : Prairie chicken! I must find my rightful place. I had better fly around just like
                         the majestic bald eagle.
Prairie Eagle: Little Eagle! Try if you can, but you belong to our kind. Now, may I continue
Little Eagle  : I wish you would find more garbage to eat. But for me, I will fly like the eagle.

     Guide Questions:

1. Based on the dialogue, which of them sounds arrogant?
2. How about the other? What can you describe about that eagle?
3. What specific moods do the underlined words possess?

Language Focused

       Modal auxiliaries are sometimes called verbs. These are helping verbs which are used to express certain moods like ability, inability, permission, obligation, willingness, and conjecture. The underlined words in the "Language Activity" above are modals.

Q: How are they used?

       They are used with one of the principal parts of other verbs. Unlike other auxiliaries, modals do not change in form, number or person. In order to use them properly, their meanings should be understood because the meaning of the sentence changes when different modals are used.

Q: What are the forms of modals as well as their uses?

     1. Modals expressing ability

          a.) can → expresses present or future ability
               ☻Andrew can lift that heavy object. (present ability)
               ☻We can solve this problem tomorrow. (future ability)

          b.) could → expresses past ability
               ☻When I was young, I could memorize a poem easily.

     2. Modals expressing request and permission

          a.) may
               ☻May I join the contest? (request)
               ☻You may go now. (permission)

          b.) can
               ☻Can we submit our term paper tomorrow? (request)
               ☻She can go over the question. (permission)

          c.) could
               ☻Could they borrow your books? (request)
               ☻Marina could see me later. (permission)

          d.) must → used to express conclusion
               ☻Her parents are silent. They must be angry.
               ☻They are touring the South as their prize. They must be enjoying themselves.

     3. Modals expressing obligation or necessity

          a.) should
               ☻We should help our parents.
               ☻One should be careful with his words.

          b.) ought (to)
               ☻We ought to help fight pollution.
               ☻A student ought to study hard.

          c.) must
               ☻You must come immediately.
               ☻He must submit his project now.

     4. Modals expressing possibility or probability

          a.) may
               ☻War may erupt anytime in the Middle East.
               ☻The teams may fight in spite of the dwindling funds.

          b.) might
               ☻They might come any moment.
               ☻She might use force if you don't listen to her.

     5. Modals expressing preference or willingness

          a.) would rather
               ☻We would rather watch the movie than stay at home.
               ☻The class would rather have an excursion than a party.

          b.) would
               ☻He would help in the fight against poverty.
               ☻She would write the speech.

Q: Aside from what were given above, what are other forms of modals together with their uses?


1. Shall, would you mind/do you mind, won't you, and would you
          → are used for permission, requests, suggestions and offers in the interrogative form.

          *Shall is exclusively used for the first person. It shows advisability and is almost used in question forms.

     ☻The bell has rung. Shall I call the class to come in now?

Note: Shall is also used in laws, regulations or directives.

     ☻You shall live in harmony with all of God's creations.
     ☻You shall not steal.

          *Do you mind and would you mind are used in two common patterns:

     a.) the speaker requests permission to do something

     ☻Do you mind if I leave?
         Not at all.

     b.) the speaker requests the person to do something or refrain from doing something.

     ☻Would  you mind closing the door?
         Not at all. I need to keep it open though, somebody is still coming.

2. May have and might have + the past participle of the main verb
          → are used for actions that were possible in the past but did not take place. In short, they express past possibility or probability.

     ☻I may have left the tickets in my locker.
     ☻She might have forgotten her appointment with me.

3. Could have + the past participle of the main verb
          → is used to indicate the ability to do something in the past, but the action was not performed.

     ☻Cutting trees indiscriminately could have been prevented through a total log ban in endangered areas.

4. Should have and ought to have + past participle of the verb
          → are used to indicate a past obligation or necessity.

     ☻The total log ban should have saved the trees.
     ☻You ought to have seen the doctor.

5. For deductions about a past situation, use must have + the past participle of the verb.

     ☻He was panting hard. He must have walked a long way.
     ☻The long dry spell must have caused it.

6. Would have + the past participle of the verb
          → is used to express willingness to do something in the past but no action occurred.

     ☻James would have helped us but his commitment in the city prevented him from coming.

7. Would rather have + the past participle of the verb
          → is used to express preference to do an act in the past but had to do otherwise.

      ☻I would rather have listened to your speech.

Test of Learning

     A. Underline the modals found in the given song lyrics and identify what mood each modal possessed.

by: Five For Fighting

I can’t stand to fly
I’m not that naive
I’m just out to find
The better part of me

I’m more than a bird…I’m more than a plane
I'm more than some pretty face beside a train
It’s not easy to be me.

I wish that I could cry
Fall upon my knees
Find a way to lie
About a home I’ll never see

It may sound absurd…but don’t be naive
Even heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed…but won’t you concede
Even heroes have the right to dream
And it’s not easy to be me.

Up, up and away…away from me
Well it’s all right…You can all sleep sound tonight
I’m not crazy…or anything…

I can’t stand to fly
I’m not that naive
Men weren’t meant to ride
With clouds between their knees

I’m only a man in a silly red sheet
Digging for kryptonite on this one way street
Only a man in a funny red sheet
Looking for special things inside of me
inside of me ...... inside of me ...ya inside of me... inside..of me

I’m only a man in a funny red sheet
I’m only a man looking for a dream

I’m only a man in a funny red sheet

It’s not easy ... wu.. hoo.. hoo..
It’s not easy to be.. me...

     B. Read the following sentences and find out what moods are expressed in the underlined modals. Choose the appropriate use of the modal from the options in the parentheses.

1. The seas and the rivers can naturally clean themselves.
          ( ability , inability , possibility )
2. With the mounting garbage problem, they can't do it anymore.
          ( ability , inability , possibility )
3. Twenty years ago, people could swim in clear rivers and seas.
          ( ability , inability , possibility )
4. May we just leave the beach?
          ( ability , possibility , permission )
5. We can dispose of our garbage properly.
          ( ability , possibility , permission )
6. Environmentalists would rather take time in cleaning and protecting Mother Nature than abusing it.
          ( possibility , suggestion , preference )
7. Such extreme exploitation might urge people to launch reform programs to prevent further abuse.
          ( possibility , suggestion , preference )
8. Then, people could go hungry.
          ( possibility , suggestion , preference )
9. You should have saved for the future when you were earning much.
          ( probability , obligation , willingness )
10. She must finish her work this week.
          ( preference , ability, necessity )

     C. Fill in the blanks with the correct modals.

1. People _____ stop smoking.
2. Smoking _____ cause lung and liver cancer.
3. Smoke from cigarettes _____ also harm non-smokers who inhale secondhand smoke.
4. Despite these warnings, many smokers still think that smoking _____ give them benefits.
5. There are other pollutants that _____ possibly make the air dirty.
6. Car owners _____ maintain their cars.
7. Smoke-belching cars emit carbon monoxide which _____ be dangerous to our health.
8. Factories _____ use anti-pollution devices to help keep the atmosphere clean.
9. Smoking in public places, in air-conditioned rooms, in vehicles _____ be prohibited.
10. Violators _____ be fined.
11. Everybody _____ do his/her part as concerned citizens.
12. Pollution _____ get worse in the future.
13. The earth _____ become barren.
14. The trees _____ be gone forever.
15. This scenario _____ happen if we do not change our ways.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Module 6: Subject-Verb Agreement

Posted by: Carlo A. Sangutan
Sources: English Plus A Communicative Approach by Ida Yap Patron
                English Grammar and Composition Notes c/o Prof. Rufina C. Esagre


This module intends to let the students:
  • learn the rules on subject-verb agreement;
  • apply the rules in making sentences; and
  • make pronouns agree with their antecedents when used in sentences. 


       Agreement means in union. It could also mean compatibility between two or more individuals as well as things. In life, we always have an agreement on things for us to be united. One example is marriage. Both a man and a woman agree to be married. they have an agreement to love and cherish each other as well as form a whole peaceful family. Upon having an agreement, both have the same goal in a sense that they must do whatever the agreement is, just to live life to the fullest. It is not only happened between people but also in languages as in English language. The most familiar agreement in English grammar is the subject-verb agreement.

Language Focused

       In a correct sentence, the verb must agree with its subject in person and number. The failure to make the subject and verb agree in number is now considered to be the most common error committed by many students. This agreement or rule is applied to verbs in the present tense only.

Q: Why?

       It is because in the past (except for was and were) and future tenses do not undergo changes even when they are used with subjects of different persons and numbers.

Q: What do person and number mean?

       Person refers to the speaker (first person), the one spoken to (second person), and the one spoken of (third person). It is easy to recognize the subject in pronouns.

       Number refers to the singularity or plurality of a noun. Singular means one while plural means more than one. Person and number are properties of nouns and pronouns.

Q: What should be remembered as a general rule?

       The use of the simple (plural form) and s-form (singular form) of the verb is determined by the person and number of the subject. It is therefore necessary that the subject is properly identified.

       When the subject in the sentence is in the first person or in the second person, singular or plural in number, the simple form of the verb is used.

       When the subject is in the third person, plural in number, the simple form of the verb is used. But when it is singular in number, there is a need to use the s-form of the verb.

Q: What simplified rules the general rule consists of?


1. The verb agrees with its subject in person and number.

       ☻She works hard in order to finish her studies.
       ☻The children shout while they play.

2. Words which intervene between subject and verb do not affect the verb.

       ☻My sister, together with her friends, arrives tonight.
       ☻The bus, loaded with boxes of fruits and vegetables, was abandoned in a solitary road.

3. Make the verb agree with the subject, not with the "of-phrase" (a phrase that begins with 'of').

       ☻The bundle of bank notes attracts the driver's attention.
       ☻The enticing hands of the demon attract us into a labyrinth of cynical distrust.

4. Sentences in the inverted order where the subject is not in the beginning position, but comes after the verb, must be properly identified.

       ☻Down that fearsome desert is a kind person.
       ☻There are always great and kind people around us.

5. Generally, compound subjects connected by "and" take the plural form of the verb.

       ☻Students and teachers need to trust each other.
       ☻A change of clothes and a warm bath are all I need.

Note: When the compound subject refers only to one person, thing, or idea, the verb is singular.

       ☻The secretary and treasurer of this class is absent.
       ☻A bow and arrow makes for a primitive weapon.

6. A compound subject involving the use of "each" or "every" requires the s-form of the verb (singular).

       ☻Each boy and girl has clothes made of T'boli tinalak.
       ☻Every man and woman helps this community become more progressive.

7. Compound subjects joined by "or", "either...or", "neither...nor", or "not only...but also" agree with the nearer subject.

       ☻Neither Analyn nor her friends have seen Chocolate Hills.
       ☻Either the people or the demon tells lies.

8. A singular verb is used for nouns that are plural in form but singular in meaning.

       ☻Measles is prevalent in their place nowadays.
       ☻Mathematics is a challenging subject.

Note: There are many words ending in "-ics" that may be either singular or plural such as economics, athletics, critics, politics, etc. These words are singular when they refer to a school subject, a science, or a general practice. The "his/her", "some", "all" and singular modifiers do not precede them when they are in singular in meaning.

       ☻Politics has become a way of life to them. (singular)
       ☻His politics are well-known. (plural)

9. Some nouns are plural in form and meaning. These nouns take the simple form of the verb(plural).
          ►scissors, tongs, shears, pliers, pants, tweezers, refreshments

       ☻My favorite pants were stolen by thieves last night.
       ☻His scissors are used only to cut strings.

10. Fractions may take the singular or the plural form of the verb depending on the of-phrase. If the object of the preposition (of) is singular, the fraction takes the singular form of the verb; if it is plural, the verb becomes plural in form.

       ☻One-half of the mangoes are sold.
       ☻Three-fourths of the cake is eaten by Hector.

11. Words or phrases that express periods of time, weights, measurements, and amounts of money or taken as a unit are usually regarded as singular.

       ☻Two kilos of sugar meets our monthly needs.
       ☻About 15% of progress is brought about by proper attitude.
       ☻Ten days seems extremely long to survive in the desert.

12. Expressions of quantity or amounts that describe individual items rather than whole units require plural verbs.

       ☻A hundred years have passed since the country gained its independence.

13. Adjectives used as subjects take the plural form of the verb.

       ☻The hardworking are rewarded.

14. Indefinite pronouns like everyone, anyone, someone, somebody, everybody, one, each one, all(meaning everything), neither, and either take the singular form of the verbs.

       ☻Each has his assignment.
       ☻Somebody was quick to report the situation to the dean and discipline officer. Neither of them was pleased.

15. Subjects modified by each, every, neither and either take the singular form of the verbs.

       ☻Each student presents his explanation.
       ☻Either one has become so defensive.

16. Expressions like many a, more than one, not one take the singular verbs.

       ☻More than one person finds it very interesting.
       ☻Many an individual feels happy about the misery of others.

17. The expression the number of takes the singular verb and the expression a number of takes the plural.

       ☻The number of cars in the city is increasing so fast that causes traffic.
       ☻A number of demons tempt good people to do bad things.

18. Many, others, several, few, a few, both and all(referring to people) require the simple form of the verb (plural).

       ☻Like the three magi, many follow the star.
       ☻All are sure where the star is.

19. A collective noun requires a singular verb when the group is regarded as one unit, and a plural verb when the individuals in the group act separately.

       ☻The crew works fast. (one unit)
       ☻The crew were very busy working. (separate)

20. A plural verb is used for a relative pronoun referring to a plural antecedent. In other words, the verb of the relative pronoun depends on its antecedent.

       ☻Hermanio is a boy who looks good wearing barong tagalog.
       ☻Trust is a value that helps us grow better.

21. A clause used as a subject takes the singular verb.

       ☻What you do reflects on you.

22. Some, most and all are singular when they refer to quantity. They are plural when they refer to number.

       ☻Some of the electrical appliances are damaged. (number)
       ☻Most of the music is difficult to understand. (quantity)

23. The words listed below are mass nouns. They are always singular and cannot be preceded by a, an or a number. They refer to things difficult to count.

     information                 homework                      jewelry
     personnel                    baggage                           scenery
     graft                             clothing                           poetry
     chalk                            blood                                help (n.)
     advice                          money                              soap

       ☻Much help is needed.
       ☻Poetry is difficult to understand.
       ☻The scenery is awesome.

Note: When a noun listed above is preceded by pieces of, kinds of, collections of, etc., it is followed by a plural verb.

       ☻Many pieces of chalk are in the box.
       ☻Rare collections of jewelry are kept in the vault.

24. With nouns always singular in form but either singular or plural in meaning, the verb agrees with the intended meaning.

     deer                           salmon                          sheep
     trout                          cattle                             swine

       ☻Fifty sheep are grazing in the meadow.
       ☻One deer, the largest, was saved.

25. Nouns that expresses abstract ideas are usually singular in form. They require singular verbs.

       ☻Pity comes naturally from the forgiving heart.
       ☻Courage makes us survive difficult ordeals.

26. The verb agrees with the subject, not with its predicate nominative.

       ☻Rico's chief interest is rocks and minerals.
       ☻Their hobby is writing and collecting antiques.

27. The verb agrees with the positive subject and not with the negative.

       ☻I, not my friends, am getting the watches.
       ☻Linda, not her sisters, is touring Europe.

28. A singular verb is used when the subject is a title of a book, play, story, or musical composition.

       ☻The Merry Wives of Windsor is a comedy.
       ☻Trees is a simple, charming poem.

29. Singular verbs are used with mathematical abstractions.

       ☻Four times eight is thirty-two.
       ☻Five plus three is eight.

Q: Aside from subject-verb agreement, is there another agreement in English grammar?

       Actually, the second most familiar agreement in English grammar is the agreement of pronouns and antecedents. Pronouns stand for nouns which are commonly called antecedents. Pronouns agree with their antecedents in person and number as well as in gender.

Q: How can this agreement be achieved?

       Agreement of pronouns with their antecedents can be achieved by:

     a. considering what is being talked about;


       Traditional politicians always look for negative issues about their opponents who, in turn retaliate. They bribe the poor. They fool the people with empty promises.

     b. remembering gender - the masculine, feminine, and neuter pronouns such as he, his, him, she, her, it, its;


       Mother Ignacia was the epitome of womanhood. She defied tradition, eventually giving women the opportunity to take active roles by practicing industriousness, persistence, simplicity, and being prayerful.

     c. using demonstrative pronouns such as this, that, these, and those, as adjectives and making these agree with the words they modify.


       Their exemplary courage and determination enabled them to achieve their dreams.

Note: Two or more antecedents joined by "and" require a plural pronoun.


       Mother Ignacia and the Beatas, who were persistent in their cause, derived their strength from their unwavering faith in God and in themselves.

Test of Learning

     A. Choose the correct verbs from the options in the parentheses.

1. The heart, although weighing less than 12 ounces, (is , are) a muscle about the size of a person's fist.
2. The walls of the heart (contract , contracts), forcing blood to rush out.
3. All of the water in the different cans (is , are) contaminated.
4. Some of the delegates (is , are) disappointed over the result of the convention.
5. Down the road (skip , skips) the child.
6. Statistics (provide , provides) the numerical data in question.
7. Refreshments (is , are) now served at the canteen.
8. Rosa and Lynda (is , are) best friends in school.
9. Many a novel (has , have) been written on love.
10. Six plus seven (is , are) thirteen.
11. Many men today (drive , drives) their own cars.
12. My confidant and adviser (is , are) my mother.
13. One of his dogs (has , have) puppies.
14. Three-fourths of the apples (is , are) missing.
15. Many (has , have) tied to break my record.

     B. Fill in the blanks with the appropriate pronouns to complete the article of Philippine Daily Inquirer. Choose from these pronouns: them, their, they, his, he, who, and him.

       MARAWI CITY - "Death, to the enemies of Mindanao and (1.) _____ people!" This was how Governor Nur Misuari of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, (2.) _____ right fist raised for emphasis, ended (3.) _____ speech, Friday before barangay officials at the Mindanao State University gymnasium.

       Misuari and the Interior Secretary Robert Barbers were guest speakers at the graduation rites for the Barangay Administration Training Program. (4.) _____ were warmly welcomed by local officials.

       Misuari did not mention names, but (5.) _____ lashed out at politicians (6.) _____ were maligning and destroying (7.) _____. He said that they portrayed (8.) _____ as riding on the back of a pig. "That is how dirty (9.) _____ are because (10.) _____ have no arguments, (11.) _____ can't argue with (12.) _____ rights," Misuari said.

       He urged the people to vote only for (13.) _____ who manifest genuine love and respect for Mindanao. But (14.) _____ discouraged voting for those who malign the people by calling (15.) _____ incompetent and corrupt.