What is Syntax? What are the top 30 rules in syntax.
Syntax denotes sentence or structure of the sentence. In previous chapter we studied how sentences are important to express our feelings now we are going to study the rules of formation of sentences. These are very important rules of sentence–structure, which we must know and apply very carefully to give the complete sense of the sentences. There are actually some exceptions to these rules, but these exceptions are also applied by some rules. These rules must be governed keeping in mind their external forms with their spirit.
Concord or Agreement
To know well the rules of syntax the most important concepts we should know are those of concord or Agreement. Each sentence is formed by a subject, a verb and a predicate. And the another thing there must be an agreement between these Subject,Verb and Predicate. Also there should be an agreement among the Number,Tense , Person, and Gender used in the different parts of the formed sentence.
Concord is defined as formal agreement in number,tense ,gender or person, between two or more parts of a sentence which is formed by their agreement .
Agreement of the Verb with the Subject
Rule 1— Subject in Number and Person must satisfy the Verb. We should always remember that the Person and Number of the verb should be in agreement with the Person and Number of its Subject. A Singular subject takes a Singular Verb, while a Plural Subject takes a Plural Verb.
Note— (i) we should always mind that a verb has a Plural or a Singular Number in the Present Tense only.While for asentence in the Past Tense the Plural and the Singular forms of the verb are the same. In the actual form a verb is taken to be in the Plural Number and Present Tense. ‘s’ or ‘es’ is added to make the verb in the Present Tense and Singular Number.
|Plural Verb in the Present tense||Singular Verb in the present tense|
Note:It is to be noticed that when‘s’ or ‘es’ is added at the end to a verb, it gives Singular Verb, but when‘s’ or ‘es’ is added at the end to a Noun, it gives Plural Noun.
|Singular Noun||Plural Noun|
Verb + s/es = Singular Verb
Noun + s/es = Plural Noun
(ii) We should always remember to verbs ‘to be’. Is, are, am, were, was are called verbs ‘to be’. These ‘to be’ Verbs change their forms according to their Person only in the Singular Number , while in the Plural Number they always remain in the same form with all Persons.
|First Person||I am/was||We are/were|
|Second Person||You are/were||You are/were|
|Third Person||He is/was||They are/were|
(iii) Below given in the table are the plural and Singulrforms of Verbs ‘to be’ and have and has—
(iv) We should always remember that have is used after shall, should,will would . Never use has, whether the subject is Plural or Singularl. As—
- Rita shall have a big house.
- They shall have large table.
- Rohan will have a latest mobile phone.
- She will have white toy.
Thus, as we understood in Rule 1 above—
(a) The verb will be in the First Person, Singular Number or Plural Number according to the subject used in the sentense. As—
- I am on time today.
- we are in the way.
- I love toys.
- We don’t love dogs.
(b) The verb will be in the Second Person, Singular Number or Plural Number according to the subject used in singular number,second person,or plural Number. As—
- You are a Teacher.
- You are all frightened.
- All of you go there together.
- You come here.
Note— we must notice that in English you and I are used as if they are in Plural Number. So, with you and I we use the Verbs in Plural Number. However,we know that I takes was in the Past tense and am in the Present tense.
(c) The verb will be in Third Person, Singular or Plural Number according to the subject used in third person Person ,Plural or Singular Number. As—
- Ram is rich.
- Professionals are highly educated.
- she reads an english Novel.
- Students read books in the library.
- shee has a large,beautyful house.
- His neighbours have a new cars.
Rule 1. Above
We discussed in Rule 1. Above that Singular Verb is used with a Singular Subject and a Plural Verb is used with Plural Subject. however, we should know the following three exceptions to this discussed general rule:
(1) Dare not and Need not
We should know about these important Verbs which in Negative Sentences (where need and dare are followed by not) are used in the Plural form with Singular Subjects. “It is important to note that the third person singular is need,’ and ‘needs’ is not used and the same as in ‘need’ ‘dare’ is used for ‘dares’ provided it should be followed by a negative.”
- She dare not ask me about my feelings.
- He dare not oppose her.
- She need not go there.
- They need not work here.
Note—It shold be note that if dare and need are used in the affirmative sense means without ‘not’ Plural form is used with the Plural Subject and Singular form with the Singular Subject. As—
- John dares.
- Youth dare.
- She needs.
- They need their payment on time.
(2) Verbs of Supposition/ Subjunctive Mood
The next exception to Rule 1 is that in sentence which express imagination or impossible hope ,condition or wish take Plural Verb.
- If she were a princes.
- Were I a king of Junagadh?
- How he wish I were there.
- If I were you, I would not do it.
- she behaved as if she were a princess.
(3) Verbs of Wish/Blessing
The third exception to the rule 1. is that if deep and sharp wish, blessing or hope are used in the sentence then Plural Verb is should be used with Singular Subjects. In such types of sentences the verb should be used in the Subjunctive Mood. This use is now used in a few sentences only. As—
- Long live the your son.
- God save the princes.
- Lord bless your love.
- Long live your friendship.
Rule 2—, Verb is used in the Plural Number if two or more Singular Subjects are joined with “and” As—
- Miss Madhu and Rohan go there every day.
- Ram and his son work together in family bussiness.
- John, Sita and Rakesh have come.
Rule 3— Verb is used in the Singular Number if two Singular Nouns point to only one person or thing,. As—
- The great politician and social activist is dead.
- My new friend and benefactor has come to my new office.
- The great warrior and patriot ,Captain Rathore is being honoured by the President.
- The chief of army staff and Head of militry operation has agreed.
Note— We should always remember that the article is used only once with the first noun when two Nouns point to only one person or thing.while they would point to two persons or things If the article is used before both the Nouns separately, and in that case Plural Verb would be used. As—
Example: The Chief Engineer and the Manager of RK Constustion have agreed to support us.
Rule 4—If two Subjects combine to make one thing only, then the verb in the Singular Number should be used. As—
- Bread and butter makes is good breakfast. (Taken together)
- The horse and carriage running on the road.
- Slow and steady wins the race.
- Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
Rule 5— The verb in the Singular Number is used If two or more Subjects have each or every before them.
Note:each and every are used before Singular Nouns only. As—
- Each boy and girl has to work together.
- Every man, woman and child was happy to live together.
- Each day and each hour is important for us we should live happily.
- Every ship and every sailor was lost in the storm.
Rule 6— they take a Singular Verb is used If two or more Singular Subjects are joined by or, nor, either… or, or neither … nor. As—
- Either John or Sameer is coming tomorrow.
- Neither Ram nor I was there.
- Neither food nor water was available in the house then.
- No boy or girl was present on the ground.
Rule 7— The Plural Subject is placed near the verb and the verb is used in the Plural Number If two or more Subjects are joined by either … or, or neither … nor,or,nor, and if they are of different Numbers. As—
- Neither the Father nor his son were present there.
- Either Mohan or his friends have taken the keys.
- Mohan or his friends are expected to go there.
- Neither Shyam nor his friends were invited.
Rule 8— The verb is used according to the subject nearest to it If two or more Subjects are joined by either … or, or neither … nor,or,nor, and if they are of different Persons,. As—
- Ram or Shyamam is responsible for this roberry.
- Either Shyam or I am correct.
- Neither Rita nor you are to blame.
- Either shila or you have to do this for your family.
Rule 9—If two or more Subjects are joined by” and” and if they are of different Person and different Number, the verb must be used in the Plural Number. Also,the verb is used in the first Person Plural Number, if the subjects have any First Person, the verb will be in Second Person Plural, but if there is no First Person, but there is a Second Person . As—
- Ram and and I are coming tomorrow.
- My mother and I have known her for many years.
- Sita and Gita are well known here.
- Rahim and I have done our best to achieve this goal.
Collective Noun and the Verb
Rule 10— Verbs can be used either in the Singular or the Plural Number according to sense with collective Nouns. Singular Verb is used If a Collective Noun represents a whole group or a body (institution). But it takes a Plural Verb if the Collective Noun represents a part or parts or division of a body .
The important Collective Nouns are : Parliament, Assembly,Government, Council, crew, staff, majority,army, fleet,committee, jury, crowd, and mob.
- The committee has agreed on the matter of Public Policy.
- The committee are divided on the matter of Public Policy.
- The crew is well trained in his responsibility.
- The crew were taken prisoners.
In the same way—
- The Legislative assembly has elected its Speaker.
- The military were deployed in Gilgit area.
- The Government have decided to introduce the Monetary policy Bill.
- The Assembly is still not in session
- The crowd has dispersed.
- The crowd have started throwing stones.
- The jury has come to a unanimous decision.
- The jury are divided in decision.
Some Typical Noun and the Verb:
Rule 11—Some times we see that some Nouns appear to be Plural in form, but actually they are singular in meaning. Singular verb is used with these noun.
Such types of Nouns are ,Gallows Mathematics, Physics,Economics,Wages,Politics, Innings (both Singular and Plural), andNews . As—
- Politics is not a piece of cake.
- Physicsis a one of the difficult subject.
- The wages of sin is not always death.
- The news is not good for bussiness people.
- Their first innings was no good.
Rule 12—There are Some Nouns which appear to be Singular in form, but they are actually taken as plural in meaning and sense. Plural Verb is used with these Noun. The most important of these nouns are—score, people,hundred,Dozen,million, thousand, and cattle. As—
- A dozen were injured.
- Thousand were affected by the flood.
- A score were saved for reference purpose only.
- The cattle are moving near the ground.
- The people are not satisfied with the Managaer statement.
Rule 13—It should be remember that if a Subject has words or phrases like, along with,together with, as well as connected with it,in addition to, as with,these connected words or phrases actually do not affect the verb in any way (since they are parenthetical words or phrases) and the verb should be used according to the real Subject.
As— 1. The Manager with all his staff, was always careful about his duty.
2. The chief operating officer, together with all his men, has been dismissed from job.
3. She, as well as her friends, has failed.
4. John, like Mahesh and Sita, is fond of movies.
Note— such types of other words and phrases are— and not, more than, unlike, besides, including, excluding,like,in addition to,no less than, rather than.
Relative Pronoun and Verb
Rule 14—The verb should be used according to the Number and Person of the Antecedent (i.e. Noun or Pronoun used before it) If the Subject of a verb is a Relative Pronoun (who, whom, whose, which, that). As—
- She, who is your friend, should help you.
- Ram, who is your friend, should help his relatives.
- He, who is your friend, should help you.
- The house, which is your now was mine before.
- The watch that is in the shelf is very costly.
- Sita is one of those students who work very hard.
Rule 15—if a Plural Noun represents a definite quantity or number, title of a book, or amount,or if it denotes the name of a country or distance, Singular Verb is used with it. As—
- Russia is one of the most powerful country.
- Trevllers is a novel of adventure.
- Thirty miles is not a short distance for a motorist.
- Fifteen lakh rupees is not a huge sum thesedays.
Rule 16—There are certain things which are made of two major parts. Such things are supposed to be in Plural Number and a Plural Verb is used with them. (Such common things are—Trousers, Scissors, spectacles, shears, tongs, etc.) As—
- Your trousers are dirty.
- Your scissors are blunt.
- The tongs are missing.
- Where are your spectacles?
Note—These things can also be referred to as a pair of ……. In that case only a Singular Verb will be used. As—
- A pair of trousers is ready for you.
- A pair of scissors is on the table.
Rule 17—if the Subject of a sentence is some infinitive/ gerund / phrase / clause, only a Singular Verb will be used. As—
- Walking is a good exercise.
- To work hard is his lot.
- How to reach there is the problem.
- That he is honest is known to all
Rule 18—There are certain Adjectives which, when joined with the Article the, become Plural Nouns. They take the verb in the Plural Number. (The more common of these adjectives are—Poor, rich, humble, blind, honest, dumb, etc.) As—
- The poor are honest. (“The poor” means “poor men”
- The rich are not used to physical labour. (“The rich” means “rich men”.)
- The dumb do not speak.
- The virtuous are respected.
Rule 19—if in a certain sentence the Subject carries it’s Apposition with it, the verb will be used according to the actual Subject, not according to its Apposition.
- I, the Manager of the MI, l am not happy with your work.
- You, my servant, are not loyal to me.
- He, your teacher, was here yesterday.
- We, your students, are playing a match today.
Note—Apposition is the word or phrase used to explain or identify the Subject. In the above sentence ‘the Manager of the Mill’ is the Apposition of the subject I. Similarly, my servant, your teacher, your students are Appositions.
Rule 20—When Adjectives of Quantity (much, more, little, less) are used as subjects, they take a Singular Verb. As—
- Much has already been done.
- Little has been done so far.
- Much more is still needed.
- Much less was expected.
Numeral Expressions and the Verbs
Rule 21—Indefinite Number/Definite Number + of A number of/the number of (a) A number of is Indefinite number. (b) The number of is Definite number. Therefore A number of + Noun always takes the verb in the Plural Number because Indefinite Number is believed to be Plural. The number of + Noun takes Singular Verb because Definite Number is believed to be in the Singular Number. As—
(a) 1. A number of boys have come.
- A number of books have been purchased.
- A number of children are playing.
- A number of students are absent.
(b) 1. The number of students is going down.
- The number of graduates is increasing.
- The number of employees is fixed.
- The number of guests varies.
In the same way the following are some more phrases showing Indefinite Number / Definite Number in which the same rule applies— (many of, a handful of, the rest of, half of, a quarter of, some of, most of, majority of, minority of, part of, percent of, none of, all of, a few of, etc.)
Quantitative Expressions and the Verbs
Rule 22—Indefinite Quantity/Definite Quantity. Some expressions suggest Indefinite / Definite quantity. Quantity whether definite or indefinite is always taken to be in Singular Number. The verb used with it is always in the Singular Number. As—
- Much of milk has turned sour.
- Plenty of tea has gone waste.
- a lot of butter has been purchased.
- A good deal of food was found to be tasteless.
In the same way some other expressions showing Indefinite / Definite Quantity are—a lot of, lots of, heap of, plenty of, half of, a quarter of, some of, much of, most of, part of, all of, rest of, a great deal of.
Note—Some expressions given above under Rules 21 and 22 can express both Number and Quantity. If the noun used after of in these expressions is countable, I t would show Number; if it is uncountable, it would show Quantity. A Plural Verb is used with countable nouns, and a Singular Verb with uncountable nouns.
Rule 23—Many a/an + Singular Noun, More than one Look at expressions like these—Many a boy, Many an opportunity, More than one chance. They are all correct expressions. They are Singular in form, but plural in meaning. Therefore according to their form, they take a Singular Verbs. As—
- Many a boy is absent today.
- Many a ship is lost in the ocean.
- Many an opportunity is missed by negligence.
- More than one chance was given to him.
Note—the above noted expressions can be changed and formed thus also—more boys than one, more opportunities than one, More chances than one. The Subject in all these expressions is Plural, therefore, they require a Plural Verb.
Rule 24—Singular Collective Noun + of + Plural Noun There are some expressions in which Plural Nouns are used after Singular Collective Nouns joined with of, as a group of boys, a team of players, a band of singers. In these expressions the Subjects are group, team, band, and not boys, players, singers (they being Objects of the Preposition of.) Moreover, they are joined into one unit by a Singular Collective Noun. All these will take Singular Verb. As—
- A team of players is staying here.
- A garland of flowers is ready.
- A batch of students is studying here.
- A bunch of grapes has fallen from the creeper.
Some other singular collective nouns are these— a chain of, a garland of, a class of, a bunch of, a series of, a herd of, a flock of, a band of, a set of, a bouquet of, a galaxy of, a fleet of, a pair of, a gang of, etc.
Rule 25—Hyphenated Expressions/Singular Noun repeated after a Preposition There are some expressions in which the same Singular Noun is repeated after a certain Preposition.
As—wave after wave, ship after ship, brick upon brick, row upon row. With all such expressions Singular Verb is used.
- Ship after ship arrives here.
- Wave after wave follows.
- Brick upon brick is laid.
- Shot after shot was heard.
Rule 26—Verb ‘to be’ + Complement The verbs ‘to be’ are—am, is, are, was, were. These verbs always take a complement after them. This complement cannot be the subject of the verb ‘to be’. The subject comes before the verb ‘to be’ and the complement comes after it.
In all such sentences the verb should be used according to the subject, and not according to the complement of the verb ‘to be’. As—
- It is I. (Not—it am I.)
- It is they. (Not—it are they.)
- It I s my students who won the match. (Not—it are my students)
- My great hope is my sons.
- Here the greatest danger is the snakes.
Rule 27—As follows As follows is always used in the Singular Number. Therefore we can never say ‘As follow’. As—
- The conditions are as follows.
- The details of the case are as follows.
- The account of expenditure is as follows.
- The main points are as follows.
Rule 28—Not only ……… but. If two subjects are connected by ‘Not only …… but’, the verb should agree in Person and Number with the second subject. As—
- Not only the teacher but all his students were injured.
- Not only I but all my brothers are worried about him.
- Not only his sons but he himself is a great artist.
- Not only they but you are also to blame.
Rule 29—Nothing but + Noun Singular/Plural some sentences begin with ‘Nothing but’, and after this phrase a Singular or a Plural noun comes. In such sentences a Singular Verb is always used whether the noun following it is singular or plural. The reason is that its subject is nothing which is always singular. As—
- Nothing but blue waters was seen.
- Nothing but smoke was there.
- Nothing but ceaseless toil was his lot.
- Nothing but hills is seen there.
Verb ‘to be’ and the complement
Rule 30—there is/There are in sentences beginning with There, the verb is or are is used according to the Number of the Noun coming after the verb. As—
- There is a book on the table.
- There are some books on the table.
- There are many chairs.
- There is a chair in the room.
In the sentences given above, in sentences at No. 1 and 4 the Nouns book and chair are singular, therefore the verb is singular (is); in sentences at No. 2 and 3 the Nouns books and chairs are Plural, therefore the verb is also Plural (are).
Concord of Nouns, Pronouns and Possessive Adjectives:
We have explained above the rules of agreement of Subject and Verb. In addition to these, there are also some rules of agreement between Noun, Pronoun and Possessive Adjectives. We give below these rules.
Rule 1—First Person Pronoun (a) First Person Pronoun Singular Number I takes me, my, mine, myself. (b) First Person Plural We, takes our, us, ours, ourselves. As—
- I shall do it myself.
- I shall have my chance.
- We shall do it ourselves.
- We shall have our chance.
Rule 2—second Person Pronoun Second Person Pronoun you remains the same both in Singular and Plural Numbers. It takes your, yours, yourself, yourselves. As—
- You can do it yourself.
- You should do your work.
Rule 3—Third Person Pronoun: Masculine/ Feminine, Singular/ Plural Number. (i) Third Person, Singular Number, Masculine Gender takes he, him, his, himself. (ii) Third Person, Singular Number, Feminine Gender takes she, her, hers, herself. (iii) Nouns of Neuter Gender and most of the animals in the Singular Number take It, Its, itself. (iv) Third Person Plural Number, both in Masculine and Feminine genders, all neuter nouns and all animals in Plural Number take They, them, their, theirs, themselves. As—
- He will do his work himself.
- She will do her work herself.
- Those boys will do their work themselves.
- Those girls will do their work themselves.
- This book is mine. I lent it to you some time back.
- Those books are mine. I lent them to you some time back.
- Every student has completed his work.
Rule 4—Common Gender Some Nouns are of Common Gender, i.e., they can be used both in the Masculine and Feminine Genders. With such nouns Masculine Pronoun is mostly used. These Nouns of Common Gender are: Person, student, pupil, candidate, member, scholar, reader, etc. As—
- A candidate should know his strong and weak points.
- A student should do his homework regularly.
- Readers are advised to keep their belongings outside.
But if in a definite context the suggestion is clearly for a girl or a woman, Feminine Pronoun can be used. As—
- A student of the Women’s College should be regular in her work. 2. Every member of our club should pay her fee in time.
Rule 5—Baby, child, the words Baby and child connote no sense of Gender. Therefore, for them we generally use it. As—
- The small child was crying for its mother.
- The baby fell down from its cradle.
Rule 6—Animals Neuter Gender (It) is generally used for animals. As—
- The cow is not in its shed.
- The dog has hurt its leg.
Note—for pet domestic animals “he / his or she / her” are used.
Rule 7—Possessives: His, Her, it’s The Gender of a Possessive Pronoun / Adjective is determined by the gender of the noun that comes before it, and not by the one that comes after it. As—
- A son must obey his mother. (Not her mother)
- A girl can learn many things from her father. (Not his father)
- The purse has been returned to its owner. (Not his owner)
Note—The difference between a Possessive Pronoun and a Possessive Adjective is that—
(a) Possessive Adjective takes a Noun after it— my book, your house, his pen, their college.
(b) Possessive Pronoun has no Noun after it.
This book is mine.
This house is yours.
This pen is his.
This college is theirs.
On the basis of the rules explained above the following two Tables can be made for the correct use of Pronouns—
Table I:Third Person Pronoun
|man, boy, everyone,|
|he, him, his, himself|
|woman, girl, every|
woman, every girl
|she, her, hers, herself|
|a thing, an animal||it, its, itself|
|one||one, one’s, oneself|
|men, women, people,animals, things||they, them, their,
Table II:All Forms of Personal Pronouns
|Accusative Pronoun||Possessive Adjective||Possessive Pronoun||Reflexive Pronoun|