I was reading about Subject-Verb agreement from a grammar book I have, and I came about some of these examples:

1.The behavior of the children were excellent. [Here were must be was in order to agree with behavior.]
2.Not one of his lectures have ever been printed.[The subject is one, not lectures; therefore, have should be has.]
3.By that time two weeks' salary were due.[Here again, the subject is salary, not weeks; therefore, were should be was.]
4.The quality of the mangoes was (not were) good.
5.The cost of all these articles has (not have) risen.
6.A series of lectures has (not have) been arranged on the subject
7.A variety of pleasing objects charms (not charm) the eye.

I understood the first three examples as there was explanation for them. In the fourth example, the subject is quality so we used singular verb. In the fifth example, cost is the subject and hence, we used singular verb again.

What I didn't get is the sixth and seventh example. Is the subject in sixth example is series? what is the subject in the seventh example?


2 Answers 2


According to American Heritage of the English Language.

Series is both a singular and a plural form. When it has the singular sense of "one set," it takes a singular verb, even when series is followed by of and a plural noun: A series of lectures is scheduled. When it has the plural sense of "two or more sets," it takes a plural verb: Two series of lectures are scheduled: one for experts and one for laypeople.

As regards a variety of Collins COBUILD English Usage explains:

After a variety of you use a plural form of a verb: A variety of treatment methods exist.

But when it comes to variety of you use singular:

Each variety of tree has its own name.

  • I agree that "series" can be either singular or plural. In this example it is singular. Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 11:29
  • 2
    Regarding the rule given for "variety", I would like to say that I, as a native speaker of English, have never heard of this exception. I would use the singular verb, but that's just my opinion. Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 11:34
  • @Usernew,Please don't accept an answer too quickly Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 11:43
  • 1
    @user1008646 So would I; but I think that over the last generation 'variety' in contexts like this has been evolving into what CGEL calls a "number-transparent quantificational noun" like lot or rest. Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 12:26
  • @LucianSava I will keep that in mind next time :)
    – Usernew
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 19:29

The subject in example 6 is "series", which in this case is singular.

The subject in example 7 is "variety", singular.

  • if the subject is "variety" in example 7, then why we have used plural form of the verb?
    – Usernew
    Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 11:20
  • 1
    For regular English verbs, we add "s" for the third-person singular. The boy eats his breakfast. The boys eat their breakfast. Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 11:23

You must log in to answer this question.

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