Agreement of Verbs with Composite Subjects

This is part 2 of Agreement of Subject and Verb, and today I’ll be going over agreement of verbs with composite subjects.

A composite subject consists of two or more nouns or pronouns. When a verb has as its subject two or more nouns in a list or joined by et, the verb is put in the third person plural.

  • La fidélité, la générosité, et la tolérance sont des qualités importantes.
  • Fidelity, generosity, and tolerance are important qualities.

When a verb has as its subject two nouns joined by ou, the verb is put in the third person plural if ou expresses the idea of conjunction (i.e. “both… and…”).

  • La neige ou le verglas rendent cette route très dangereuse.
  • Snow or ice (i.e. both snow and ice) make this road very dangerous.

But if two nouns joined by ou are in opposition, the verb is put in the third person singular (i.e. “either… or…”).

  • Le ministre ou son député va assister à la cérémonie.
  • The minister or his deputy (i.e. either the minister or his deputy) will attend the ceremony.

When the subject of a verb is a first or second person pronoun plus another pronoun/noun, the verb agrees with the first person (if there are both first and second persons) or with the second person (if there are second and third persons). It is usual to include the pronoun nous or vous after the composite subject, before the verb.

  • Suzette et moi, nous allons au théâtre ce soir.
  • Suzette and I are going to the theatre this evening.
  • Votre frère et vous, vous pourriez ouvrir un magasin diététique.
  • You and your brother could open a health food store.

Last post of 2017! I will see you all in the new year, so be safe and have fun!

A l’année prochaine…

Courtney

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