01.Syntax deals with the combination and position of words in a sentence: It is divided into three parts:
a) Concord is the agreement of words in sentences number, gender, person and case.
b) Government is the power which one word has over another. Words like prepositions and transitive verbs are said to govern other words.
c) Order is the arrangement of words in sentences. Most of the important points have already been dealt with in the preceding chapters, Still, a few more rules are given here.
02. A verb must agree with its subject in number and person: He is ill. I am happy. They were happy.
03. The Error of proximity—The verb is sometimes made, through mistake, to agree in number with a noun or pronoun near it, instead of with its subject. This should be carefully guarded against.
One of them was present there. The behest of the boys has got a prize. The number of men was small. The presence of many men is plural number.
04. a) The common Noun following ‘one of the’ should be in the plural number:
He is one of the best boys (not, boy). One of the men (not, man) gave me one of the books. Lend me one of the pens.
b) ’For more than one' more than two’
05. When an infinitive, a gerund, a verbal noun, a Clause or Phrase is the subject, the verb is in the third person singular: to err is human; swimming is a good exercise; the writing of letters well is not easy; that he is ill is Known to all; success at any cost was his aim.
06. When a Collective number is meant, the noun, though plural in form, has singular verb.
Fifty takes is enough for me. Twenty shillings makes one pound. three miles is a long distance. Eight takes was the price of they thing.
07. The name of a thing or a country, though plural in form, takes a singular verb. The Folk Tales of Bengal is a good book.
08. A Collective noun takes a singular verb when the things or persons are taken collectively, and plural verb when they are taken separately. The class is large. People shout.
We must be consistent. Thus, we should write: The Board has agreed to grant a bonus to its (not their) employees. The mob do (not does) not know their mind.
09. a) If the Subject and the Complement are of different numbers, the verb must agree with the subject.
Our guide was (not, were) the stars. The stars were our guide. Germany's great need was colonies. Colonies were Germany's great need.
b) Special attention is to be paid to the use of the number after ‘what’, which may be singular and plural. In each of the following examples what starts as singular, because a singular verb follows it but the next verb (belonging to that or that which) is plural on account of the influence of the plural complement. This is wrong.
What is required are (should be, is) houses at fair rents. What seems needed are (should be, is) strict measures. What strikes me most there are (should be, is) strict measures. What strikes me most there are (should be, is) its beautiful roads.
The mistake is of the opposite kind in the following:
We have been invited to abandon what seems to be the most valuable parts of our constitution (read seem; abandon the parts of our constitution that seem). He decided, for what was good reasons, not to go there (read were, for reasons that were).