Mixed types of compound predicate

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Mixed types of compound predicate

§ 59. Compound predicates can combine elements of different types. Thus we have:


1. The compound modal verbal nominal predicate.


Jane must feel better pleased than ever.

She couldn’t be happy.

He may have been ill then.


2. Тhe compound modal nominal verbal predicate.

Are you able to walk another two miles?

We were anxious to cooperate.


3. The compound phasal nominal predicate.


He was beginning to look desperate.

George began to be rather ashamed.

4. The compound modal phasal predicate.


You ought to stop doing that.

He can’t continue training.


5. The compound nominal predicate of double orientation.


Mrs Bacon is said to be very ill.

Walter seems to be unhappy.

Agreement of the predicate with the subject

§ 60. The most important type of agreement (concord) in English is that of the subject and the predicate in number and person. Thus a singular noun-subject requires a singular verb-predicate, a plural noun-subject requires a plural verb-predicate.

This rule of purely grammatical agreement concerns all present tenses (except modal verbs) and also the past indefinite of the verb to be.


World literatureknows many great humorists.

Great humoristsknow how to make people laugh.


This rule remains true for:


a) All link verbs irrespective of the number of the predicative noun, as in:


Our only guidewas the Polar star.

Our only guide was the stars.


b) The predicate of emphatic constructions with the formal subject it.

It was my friends who suddenly arrived.

It’s they who are responsible for the delay.

§ 61. The verb-predicate is in the singular if the subject is expressed by:


1. An infinitive phrase or phrases.

To know everythingis to know nothing.

To be loved and to be wantedis always good.


2. A prepositional phrase.

After the meetingis the time to speak.


3. A clause introduced by a conjunction or conjunctive adverb.

Where you found himdoes not concern me.

How you got there is beyond my understanding.

Whether you find him or notdoes not concern me.



Subject clauses introduced by conjunctive pronouns what, who may be followed by either a singular or plural verb.

What I want to dois to save us.

What were once precious manuscriptswere scattered all over the floor.

What I say and what I thinkare my own affair.


4. A numerical expression, such as arithmetical addition, subtraction, division.

Four and fouris eight.

Four minus twois two.

Ten divided by fiveis two.



However multiplication admits of two variants.

Twice twois/are four.


5. The group many a + noun.

Many a manhas done it.

Ни один человек проделал такое. (Многие...)


6. With there - constructions followed by subjects of different number, the predicate agrees with the subject that stands first. The same holds true for sentences with here.

Therewas a textbook and many notebooks on the table.

Therewere many notebooks and textbook on the table.

Herewas Tom and Peter.

Herewas a man, wasexperience and culture.


In informal style, however, the singular verb is often usedbefore the subject in the plural if the form of the verb is contracted.


Is there any place in town that might have them? –There’s two.

Both closed.

There’s too many of them living up there.

There’s two kinds of men here, you’ll find.


7. Plural nouns or phrases when they are used as names, titles, quotations.

“Fathers and Sons”is the most popular of Turgenev’s novels.



However, the titles of some works which are collections of stories, etc., may have either a singular or a plural verb.

The “Canterbury Tales”consist of about seventeen thousand lines of verse.

Turgenev’s "Hunter’s Tales" was/were published in 1852.

Pronouns as subject

§ 62.

1. Indefinite pronouns (somebody, someone, anybody),

universal pronouns (everybody, everyone, everything, each, either),

negative pronouns (nobody, no one, neither, etc.)

take a singular predicate.

Somebodyis asking for you.

Nobodyhas come except me.

Everyone of usis present.

Neither of the studentshas made a mistake.

Eachhas answered well.


However, none has a plural verb-predicate.

Nonewere here.

None of usunderstand it.

None of themhave come.

All in the sense of «всё» has a singular verb, while all in the senseof«все» takes a plural verb.

Allis well that ends well.

All that glittersis not gold.

Allwere in favour of the plan.


2. Interrogative pronouns who, what take a singular verb-predicate.

Whohas come? Whatis there?


But if the pronoun denotes more than one person or thing a plural verb-predicate is used.

Whoare walking in the garden?

Whohave agreed to act?


3. With relative pronouns the form of the verb depends on the noun or pronoun which is its antecedent.


Do you know the girl wholives next door?

(The girl lives...)

Do you know the girls wholive next door?

(The girls live...)

Mary is one of those girls who neverknow what they will do next.

Even I, whohave seen it all, can hardly believe it.

It is you whoare right. It is I whoam wrong.

But: It’s me whois wrong.


4. The universal pronoun both has a plural verb-predicate.


Which of the letters are yours? Bothare mine.

Conjunctions connecting two or more homogeneous subjects

§ 63. A plural verb-predicate is used in the following cases:


1. With homogeneous subjects connected by and.

Sun and airare necessary for life.

Tom and Maryare my friends.

The ebb and the flow of the tideare regular.



However, with structures where coordinated nouns refer to one thing or person a singular verb-predicate is used.

Bread and butteris not enough for breakfast. (one object is meant)

Bacon and eggsmakes a traditional English breakfast. (one dish is meant)

The painter and decoratoris here. (one person is meant)


If the article is repeated, the reference is to two persons or objects, and a plural verb-predicate is used.

The bread andthe butterare on the table. (two separate object are meant)

The painter andthe decoratorare here. (two persons are meant)


Likewise, when a singular noun-subject has two attributes characterizing the same person or non-person connected by and it has a singular verb and the article is not repeated.

A tall and beautiful girlwas waiting in the office.

A black and white kittenwas playing on the hearth rug.


But if the attributes characterize different persons or non-persons the verb is in the plural and the article is repeated.

A black and a white kitten were playing on the hearth rug. (A black kitten was playing and a white kitten was playing.)

The yellow and the red car werebadly damaged.


However, the article is repeated before each attribute only with countable nouns. Uncountables have no article.


In modern hotels hot and cold waterare supplied in every room.

American and Dutch beerare both much lighter than British.

Good and bad tasteare shown by examples.


With plural nouns only one article is used.

The Black and Mediterranean Seas never freeze.


2. With homogeneous subjects connected by both... and.

Both the bread and the butterare fresh.

Both the teacher and the studentshave come.

§ 64. With homogeneous subjects connected by the conjunctions not only... hut also, either... or, or, neither... nor the verb-predicate agrees with the nearest noun-subject. (This is the so-called “proximity rule”.)

Either my sister or my parentsare at home.

Either my parents or my sisteris at home.

Neither you norI am right.

Neither I nor youare right.

Not only my parents but also my brotherknows about it.

Not only my brother but also my parentsknow about it.

Is Tom or Maryeager to meet you at the station?

§ 65. With homogeneous subjects connected by the conjunctions as well as, rather than, as much as, more than the verb-predicate agrees with the first one.

My parents as well as my sisterare teachers.

My sister as well as my parentsis a teacher.

The manager as well as/rather than/more than/as much as the members of the boardis responsible for the

present situation.

Notional agreement

§ 66. Notional agreement is to be found in the following cases:


1. In modern English agreement there may be a conflict between form and meaning. It refers first of all to subjects expressed by nouns of multitude (see § 176, II), which may denote plurality being singular in form. In such cases the principle of grammatical agreement is not observed and there appears the so-callednotional agreement, when the choice of the number is based on the fact whether the group of beings is considered as one whole or, as a collection of individuals taken separately (as discrete ones).

Thus the nouns of multitude (band, board, crew, committee, crowd, company, clergy, cattle, family, gang, group, guard, gentry, infantry, jury, militia, police, poultry, team) may have both a plural verb-predicate and a singular one depending on what is meant - a single undivided body or a group of separate individuals.

A new governmenthas been formed.

The governmenthave asked me to go, so I am leaving now.

It was now nearly eleven о'clock and the congregation were arriving...

The congregationwas small.

Howare your family?

Our familyhas alwaysbeen a very happy one.

The commanding officer does not know where his cavalryis and his cavalryare not completely sure of

their situation.

The crowdwas enormous.

The crowdwere silent.

The policeis already informed.

I don’t know what the policeare doing.

The cattleis in the mountains.

The cattlehave stopped grazing. They know before you hear any sound that planes are approaching.

The jurydecides whether the accused is guilty or not.

While the jurywere out, some of the public went out for a breath of fresh air.


2. Subjects expressed by nouns denoting measure, weight, time, etc., have a singular verb-predicate when the statement is made about the whole amount, not about the discrete units.

Ten yearsis a long time.

Another five minutesgoes by.

A million francsis a lot of money.


3. Notional agreement is also observed with subjects expressed by word-groups including nouns of quantity: a/the number of..., a/the majority of..., (a) part of..., the bulk of..., a variety of... . These admit of either a singular or a plural verb-predicate.

The number (количество) of pages in this book isn’t large. It was Sunday and a number (многие) of people were walking about. In Elisabeth’s reign the bulk of English vegetable supplies were imported from Holland.


4. Subjects expressed by such invariable plural nouns as goods (товар, товары), contents (содержание, содержимое), riches (богатство, богатства), clothes (одежда), wages (зарплата), eaves (карниз крыши) have a plural verb.


His wages were only 15 shillings a week.

I asked her what the contents were about.

His clothes were shabby.

The goods were delivered on time.


5. Subjects expressed by such invariable singular nouns as hair, money, gate, information (сведения), funeral (похороны), progress (успехи), advice have a singular verb-predicate. These are called “singularia tantum” “всегда единственное число», as they have no plural.

Her hairis beautiful.

The moneyis mine.

The gateis open.

The informationwas unusually interesting.

If the funeralis so detestable to you, you don’t have to go to it.


The corresponding Russian nouns used as subjects are either plural invariables (деньги, ворота, похороны) or have both the singular and the plural forms (совет - советы, новость - новости).


6. Subjects expressed by invariable nouns ending in -s (“pluralia tantum” «всегда множественное число») and denoting an indivisible notion or thing have a singular verb-predicate : measles (корь), mumps (свинка), billiards, dominoes, linguistics, economics, news, headquarters (штаб), works (завод).

No newsis good news.

The new works thathas been built in our districtis very large.


Though nouns in-ics which are names of sciences and other abstract notions have a singular agreement when used in their abstract sense; they may have a plural verb-predicate when denoting qualities, practical applications, different activities, etc. (ethics – “moral rules”, gymnastics – “physical exercises”). Thus these nouns may be followed by either a singular or a plural verb.


statistics a branch of science collected numbers, figures representing facts


Statisticsis a rather modern branch of mathematics.

These statistics show deaths per 1,000 of population.

Statistics on this subject are available,


tactics the art of arranging military forces for battle methods


Tacticsis one of the subjects studied in military academies.

Your tacticsare obvious. Please, don’t insult my intelligence.


politics a profession political affairs, political ideas


Politicsis a risky profession.

Politicshave always interested me.

What are your politics?


ceramics the art of making bricks, pots, etc. articles produced in this way


Ceramicsis my hobby.

Where he lives isn’t the provinces as far as ceramicsare concerned, it’s the metropolis.


7. Subjects expressed by substantivized adjectives denoting groups of people (the blind, the dumb and deaf, the eminent, the mute, the old, the poor, the rich, etc.) always take the plural verb-predicate.


He did not look an important personage, but the emminent rarely do.

The object


§ 67. The object is a secondary part of the sentence referring to some other part of the sentence and expressed by a verb, an adjective, a stative or, very seldom, an adverb completing, specifying, or restricting its meaning.


She has bought a car.

I’m glad to see you.

She was afraid of the dog.

He did it unexpectedly to himself.

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