Rule 7 at this grammar website says:

Rule 7

Sometimes the subject is separated from the verb by words such as along with, as well as, besides, or not. Ignore these expressions when determining whether to use a singular or plural verb.

Examples: The politician, along with the newsmen, is expected shortly.
Excitement, as well as nervousness, is the cause of her shaking.

So, it looks like we usually ignore these expressions: as well as, along with, besides, etc., when determining whether to use a singular or plural verb. But if the sentence is this:

Suresh along with his friends was arrested by the police as they were involved in the sting operation.

It sounds a little bit eccentric to me. Should were be the verb followed by friends [plural]? Please clear my doubt.

4 Answers 4


I've thought about this for a bit and it seems to me that the sentence isn't right as it stands. I think you have three choices:

(a1) Suresh, along with his friends, was arrested by the police **because he was involved in the sting operation. OR (a2) Suresh, as well as his friends, was arrested by the police **because he was involved in the sting operation.
(b) Suresh and his friends were arrested by the police because they were involved in the sting operation.

NOTE: Maybe we can say that "along with his friends" is synonymous with "as well as his friends", in which case, setting it off with commas requires a singular verb for the the first sentence.

You should also change that ambiguous as to an unambiguous because.

  • Why as is changed to because?
    – Sudhir
    Apr 12, 2013 at 8:13
  • @Sudhir: By using along and as, you have introduced a boatload of ambiguity. Does "along" mean he was arrested along with his friends? Or does it mean he happened to be along with his friends when he got arrested? So we don't even know who got arrested! Furthermore, what does "as" mean? That could mean he was arrested (or, they were arrested) because of involvement in a sting operation ("as" can mean "because"), or it could mean they were arrested during a sting operation ("as" can also mean "during").
    – J.R.
    Apr 12, 2013 at 9:16
  • @Bill Franke : If the sentence was Girls along with their boyfriends were/was present in the cinema hall?
    – Sudhir
    Apr 18, 2013 at 16:34
  • @Sudhir: There's only one possibility if the sentence were the "Girls..." sentence: were. With or without the "along with their boyfriends" part or whether it's ", as well as their boyfriends,". Why? Because the grammatical subject is plural, the verb must be plural.
    – user264
    Apr 18, 2013 at 17:05

Singular agreement is appropriate if the main point of the sentence is that Suresh was arrested, and that he just happened to be accompanied by his friends. It would make the point clearer if the phrase ‘along with his friends’ was placed between commas.

If the point of the sentence is to convey the fact that they were all arrested, then that is best achieved by writing ‘Suresh and his friends were arrested . . .’

  • Please explain the first paragraph in more detail. I'm not getting it.
    – Sudhir
    Apr 12, 2013 at 7:44
  • The singular verb shows that the main interest is in what happened to Suresh. The fact that he was 'along with his friends' is incidental. They are not part of the subject in the same way as they are in ‘Suresh and his friends were arrested . . .’ Apr 12, 2013 at 7:49
  • @Sudhir: In other words, if you use "was", the verb tense implies that his friends weren't arrested with him. (In this case, along isn't a good word to use there, because it introduces confusion). However, consider this: Suresh, walking with his friends, was arrested by the police. Here, Suresh was the only one the police were interested in arresting. If the whole gang was arrested, we'd say: Suresh, along with his friends, were arrested by the police.
    – J.R.
    Apr 12, 2013 at 9:09
  • @J.R. It seems to me that even with was, the sentence allows for both Suresh’s friends as well as Suresh being arrested. It’s the arrest of Suresh that the writer is interested in – hence the singular verb – even if his friends were arrested at the same time. Apr 12, 2013 at 9:33
  • @Barrie, I missed that point initially, but I see what you mean now. If Suresh was a reputed gangster, for example, a reporter might be focusing on his arrest, and not concerned with the fate of the friends that were with him at the time, who may or may not have also been arrested. (This is one of the hazards of trying to interpret a sentence apart from any surrounding context!)
    – J.R.
    Apr 12, 2013 at 9:37

The rule is that whether a subject is singular or plural has nothing to do with subordinate clauses. So when considering, "Suresh, along with his friends, was arrested ...", the "along with his friends" is irrelevant. If you just left that out, you'd have, "Suresh was arrested". Singular subject, singular verb. But I guess you understand that part.

In the second part of the sentence, "... as they were arrested", the subject is not "Suresh". The subject is "they". And "they" is plural, so it requires a plural verb.

You're getting confused because the "they" presumably means "Suresh and his friends". Not "Suresh, along with his friends". There's no rule that says that such a clause must have the same subject as the main clause in the sentence. Suppose instead, for example, the author had written, "Suresh was arrested as he and his friends were caught in a sting operation." "He and his friends" is not the same as "Suresh". Or, "Suresh, along with his friends, was arrested as the police conducted a sting operation." Clearly "Suresh, along with his friends" are not "the police". This is a totally different subject. Or, "Suresh was arrested in Bombay while his brother in London was sleeping." Two totally different people doing totally different things.

Just because in this particular case the subject of the second clause happens to be the same group of people referred to by the subject of the first clause plus a modifier, doesn't mean that GRAMMATICALLY they are the same. Don't confuse what is factually correct with what is grammatically correct. Like if I said, "The people who assassinated Senator Jones are part of a vast conspiracy", and in fact the truth is that Senator Jones was murdered by one man acting alone, that does not mean that the correct grammar of the sentence is, "The people who assassinated Senator Jones IS part ...", because there's really only one person. :-)


Do not be confuse of wit these phrases-- as along with, as well as, besides, not, etc.. It is one of the concern of subject verb agreement. We need to use singular verb if the subject is singular but if the subject is plural we also need plural subject. Just omit those ambiguous words and focus to the subject before these words mentioned above. Suresh,along with his friends was arrested by the police as they were involved in the sting operation.

You need to focus the word Suresh in which that this noun is singular so we also need singular verb.

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