Grammar Tips & Articles »


This article is about number — enjoy your reading!

1:21 min read
  Ed Good  —  Grammar Tips
Font size:

The concept of number applies to nouns, verbs, and pronouns. Number distinguishes “oneness” and “more-than-oneness,” that is, it distinguishes the singular from the plural.

English verbs do not have a special form to denote plurality. Instead, number shows up only in the third-person singular, where the endings of ‑s, ‑es, or -ies indicate the singular.

The personal pronouns also exhibit number. Each of the three persons has both a singular form and a plural form (for second person you, it's the same). In the first person, I (singular) and we (plural). In the second person, you (singular) and you (plural). And in the third person, he or she or it (singular) and they (plural).

Here's a cardinal rule of grammar: A verb must agree with the number of its subject. Another rule: Only the grammatical subject, not some other word, determines the number of the verb.

Here's another cardinal rule of grammar (although it's currently undergoing a change): A pronoun must agree with the number of its antecedent; if the antecedent is singular, the pronoun must be singular; if the antecedent is plural, the pronoun must be plural.

Problems of subject-verb disagreement in number and pronoun-antecedent disagreement in number are thoroughly discussed in the sections on Nouns, Verbs, and Pronouns in Parts of Speech on

Also, please read the first chapter in the section on Common Grammatical Mistakes. We urge you to study these problems carefully. Click here for the beginning of that discussion. You may also download the eBook Common Grammatical Mistakes.

Nothing in grammar contaminates your style more than violation of these principles.

Rate this article:

Have a discussion about this article with the community:



    Use the citation below to add this article to your bibliography:


    "number." STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 21 Sep. 2023. <>.

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Check your text and writing for style, spelling and grammar problems everywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Check your text and writing for style, spelling and grammar problems everywhere on the web!


    Free Writing Tool:

    Grammar Checker

    Improve your grammar, vocabulary, and writing -- and it's FREE!

    Improve your writing now:

    Download Grammar eBooks

    It’s now more important than ever to develop a powerful writing style. After all, most communication takes place in reports, emails, and instant messages.