As per my understanding verb changes as follow

  • The sentence I sing changes to He sings
  • The sentence Do I singchanges to Does he sing?

All, Good. But when I take a complex sentence like below

"Symptoms of malaria include chills, fever and vomiting"

Question is: As per formula verb include shall change to includes for it (malaria ), like shown below. But i see below sentence is wrong. How is it?

"Symptoms of malaria includes chills, fever and vomiting"

  • 3
    Malaria is not the subject, so the verb doesn’t agree with it. Symptoms of malaria is not an ‘it’, but a ‘they’. (And the reason why I used is in the previous sentence instead of are is that, even though the subject is still symptoms of malaria, in this case it’s really the phrase ‘symptoms of malaria’, which is singular.) Commented Mar 10, 2019 at 14:39
  • It is tough! Is there any easy way to make these decisions?
    – kudlatiger
    Commented Mar 10, 2019 at 14:46
  • 1
    The general rule is that the head of a noun phrase decides whether it is singular or plural. If there is a preposition with an object in the noun phrase, the object of the preposition is never the head, so in symptoms [of malaria], the head is symptoms. This should be quite simple, because it works this way in most languages that distinguish singular/plural and allow noun phrases to contain PPs. The difficult part is that there are some NPs that don’t follow this rule, like a lot of Xes, which is plural, despite a lot being singular. Commented Mar 10, 2019 at 14:51
  • 1
    Your examples switch from a first person subject ("I") to a third person subject ("he"). But your malaria sentence already has a third person plural subject. It is not structured like your other examples.
    – remarkl
    Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 19:57

1 Answer 1


'Symptoms' is a plural noun so the verb must be plural also.

  • @Michael Harvey , But right answer is to use "include", not "includes"
    – kudlatiger
    Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 8:42
  • @kudlatiger Yes: include is the form of the verb which goes with plural subjects; the third-person singular form is includes. Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 10:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .