Concord in English is the harmony or agreement in number and person between the subject and verbs in a sentence. Concord simply implies that the subject and verbs in a sentence should agree with one another. For instance if the subject is singular, the verb in the sentence should also be singular.
For the purposes of this topic, it is important we know what a subject and verb are.
A subject is a noun or pronoun that represents the person or thing that performs the action in a sentence. On the other hand, a verb is a word that represents the action actually performed in the sentence.
In the sentence: I ate the food, ‘I’ is the subject because it performed the action in the sentence. ‘Ate’ is the verb because it is the action that was performed in the sentence.
RULES IN CONCORD (Concord in English)
1. SUBJECT AND VERB AGREEMENT RULE
This rule means that when the subject is singular, the verb should also be singular. And when the subject is plural, the verb should also be plural.
SENTENCE EXAMPLE (Concord in English)
- Sandra works here. (Singular subject ‘Sandra’ and singular verb ‘works’).
- We go to school everyday. (Plural subject ‘We’ and Plural verb ‘go’).
In the first sentence above, if you look closely, you will notice that the verb has an ‘s’ attached to it, making it singular in order for it to agree with the singular noun: ‘Sandra’. It is important at this point to note that, unlike nouns, singular verbs usually have an ‘s’ attached to them and plural verbs do not have ‘s’. For instance, singular verbs are brings, comes, goes, responds, indicates, etc.
2. COMPULSORY SUBJECT AGREEMENT RULE
The rule in number one above says that whenever a singular subject is used, the verb should also be singular. However, the compulsory subject agreement rule states that ‘whenever words such as prayer, recommendation, suggestion, resolution, demand, wish, etc is used in a sentence, the verb that follows the clause should be in plural whether the subject is in singular or plural’.
SENTENCE EXAMPLE (Concord in English)
- I pray that he succeed (not succeeds).
- It is my humble wish that Olu stay (not stays).
3. NEARNESS RULE
This rule states that the verb should agree with the subject noun or pronoun closest to it.
- Either Obi or his parents are to be blamed for the man’s death.
- Either Obi’s parents or Obi is to be blamed for the man’s death.
‘Are’ and ‘is’ agree with parents and Obi respectively based on the principle of nearness.
4. ACCOMPANIMENT RULE
This rule states that whenever ‘together with’, ‘as well as’, ‘in collaboration with’, ‘in company with’, ‘as much as’, ‘including’, etc is used in a sentence, what determines whether the verb will be singular or plural is based on the subject noun or pronoun that comes before the accompaniment word.
- Chinedu, together with his siblings, is coming.
- The thieves, in collaboration with Tunde, are here to take the money as they planned.
In the first example, what determined the singularity of the verb is the ‘Chinedu’ because of the accompaniment word ‘together with’.
5. CO-ORDINATE CONCORD
This rule states that where two subjects are joined by ‘and’, the verb should be plural.
- Amaka and Adeleke are siblings.
- Bernard and Joe are birds of same feather.
6. SAME-PERSON SUBJECT CONCORD
In a situation where two subjects referring to the same person are joined by ‘and’, the verb should be singular.
- The President and minister for petroleum is coming here today. (The president is the same person as the minister for petroleum).
- Cornelius and Commissioner for education has not arrived yet.
7. HIGH TIME RULE
Whenever the expression ‘it is high time’ or ‘it is about time’ is used in a sentence, the verb is always in past tense.
- It is high time you gave up smoking.
- It is about time we started leaving
8. PLURAL-SEEMING CONCORD RULE
There are some nouns that look like plurals although they are singular. They usually have ‘s’ attached to them. Whenever these words are found in a sentence, a singular verb should be used. Some of these words are physics, tuberculosis, mathematics, arts, etc.
- Mathematics is not so difficult as it seems.
- Tuberculosis kills.
9. COLLECTIVE NOUN RULE
Whenever a collective or common noun is used in a sentence, the appropriate verb that should follow is a singular verb.
- The bunch of keys is on the table.
- My team is playing today.
10. NO-SOONER…THAN RULE
No sooner…than is used to show that something happened immediately after something else. When the expression ‘no sooner…than’ is used in a sentence, the verb that follows immediately should be in past tense.
No sooner had he left the market than the shooting started.
No sooner was I seated than the teacher entered the classroom.
The verbs above: ‘started’ and ‘entered’ agrees in past tense with the expression ‘no sooner…than’.
11. ‘ALL’ RULE IN CONCORD
When all is used in a sentence, it can either refer to all as in everything or all as in people. When it refers to all as in everything, a singular verb is used. But when it refers to all as in people, a plural verb is used.
- All is well with you. (All here means everything).
- All of the robbers were caught. (All here means people).
12. PRONOUNS AND ‘WOULD RATHER’ RULE
This rule states that when two pronouns are used in a sentence with the expression ‘would rather’, the verb that follows should be in past tense.
- I would rather you went home.
- I would rather she chose a black gown.
In the first sentence, the presence of two pronouns: ‘I’ and ‘you’ made it necessary that the verb is in past tense.