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I have noticed on this site that some say that if there is a singular subject, we use a plural verb.

Example: "Run" is a verb. 3rd person singular is "runs".

You run.

I run.

He runs.

They run (Why not "runs"?)

Why didn't we use plural form of verb "runs" since the subject is plural?

MamtaD says in her answer that

does is the right word to use here and not do because your verb has to agree with the subject.

i.e. the subject ring is singular and so the verb should be singular.

Why these are acceptable:

I do
You do
They do

They, again, is plural subject, so why it is not "they does"?

So, if a subject is singular, we use plural verb? as said by Usernew in his/her answer

Here, none is plural, so it took a singular form of verb Observe.

  • "They" is plural pronoun. "Does" is a 3rd person singular form. 3rd person plural is "do". – Kreiri Oct 19 '15 at 10:40
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    @Mrstupid, See my earlier answer, it says the verb has to agree with the subject. they runs is incorrect because the verb and subject do not match. For singular, you will use runs and for plural, run. Please read this article here. – Mamta D Oct 19 '15 at 11:09
  • It will all seem less odd if you study some German and its declensions, and understand that modern English is the descendant of an early medieval Germanic dialect, which was later influenced in the 11th century, with the Norman Conquest, by a form of French. Some, but not all, of the declensions marking verb number coalesced over the ten centuries since then. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 19 '15 at 11:40
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    I think your confusion here comes from the difference between nouns and verbs. You only make nouns plural by adding an "s" - this is not the case for verbs (the way most - but not quite all - verbs are conjugated, pretty much all the forms are the same apart from the third person singular). So while "apples" is the plural of "apple", "runs" is not the plural form of "to run". [which of course gets more complicated with your example of 'ring' - if a ring (noun) makes a loud noise, "the ring rings", but "the rings ring" (italic noun, bold verb in both)] – Jez W Oct 19 '15 at 13:25
  • I'm currently studying French & realizing that when you pluralize the noun, everything gets pluralized: the verb, the adjectives... That's not the case in English. "Young" stays the same whether it's "boy" or "boys", E.G. "The young boy was running", "The young boys were running", and so on. – G. Ann - SonarSource Team Oct 19 '15 at 15:10
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Main Points

  • An S on the end of a verb doesn't make it plural like it does for nouns
  • We use the term "plural verbs", but verbs aren't plural themselves. Rather, they are changed based on whether or not the noun they are paired with is plural.



Clearing the Confusion

they run (why not runs?)

Why didn't we use plural form of verb "runs" since the subject is plural?

I think you are getting confused by the s on the end of the verbs. S is only used to make nouns plural. The s on the end of some verbs is coincidental.

We use the term "plural verbs", but verbs aren't plural themselves. Rather, they are changed based on whether or not the noun they are paired with is plural.



More Information

Verbs are "conjugated" when we used them. That means we take the basic "infinitive" form of a verb and change it slightly to suit two (main) things.

We change its tense - when the action took place and we change it depending on who/what the action applies to. The "who/what" takes in to account whether or not the speaker is included and how many people or things are being spoken about.

For most verbs, there is a pattern you can apply. Some verbs are irregular and you just have to learn them. I've given examples for a few verbs for two tenses below:

Present Simple Tense

This action takes place in the present or we are describing something that happens regularly.

              Who/What       Verb (Run)   Verb (eat)   Verb (be - irregular)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Singular
1st Person     I              run          eat            am

2nd Person     You            run          eat            are

3rd Person     He/She/It      runs         eats           is

Plural    
1st Person     We             run          eat            are

2st Person     ------(Always the same as 2nd Person Singular)-------

3rd Person     They           run          eat            are

Just adding an s (or sometimes es) to 3rd person plural is the pattern for a lot of verbs.


Simple Past Tense

This action took place in the past. It has already finished.

              Who/What       Verb (Run)   Verb (eat)   Verb (be - irregular)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Singular
1st Person     I              ran          ate            was

2nd Person     You            ran          ate            were

3rd Person     He/She/It      ran          ate            was

Plural    
1st Person     We             ran          ate            were

2st Person     ------(Always the same as 2nd Person Singular)-------

3rd Person     They           ran          ate            were

A lot of verbs just add -ed, for past tense but a lot don't!

I can't think of a common pattern for learning the past form of a verb, but the regular verbs tend to use the same work for all people.

Some examples:

Infinitive               = Past
================================
run                      = ran  
eat                      = ate  
drink                    = drank
read (pronounced "reed") = read (pronounced "red") 
write                    = wrote
kneel                    = knelt 
see                      = saw
tell                     = told

Some that do use -ed

need                     = needed
walk                     = walked
spell                    = spelled (but also spelt)

  • "spell" is not the best example of a "regular" past because its past tense is often written "spelt" – psmears Oct 19 '15 at 15:01

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