Guide to Grammar and Usage Be Plural: are, were Do do, did Have have, had 286 · Ignore words or phrases that come between the subject and the verb. Example:Too many onions in a stew often cause an upset stomach. The plural subject onions requires the plural verb cause. Ignore the intervening prepositional phrase "in a stew." · Subjects that are singular in meaning but plural in form require a singular verb. Examples include measles, news, economics, and mathematics. Example:The news was good. · Singular subjects connected by either ... or, neither ... nor, and not only ... but also require a singular verb. Example:Either the witness or the defendant was lying. · If the subject is made up of two or more nouns or pronouns connected by or, nor, not only, but also, the verb agrees with the noun closer to the pronoun. Example:Neither the contract nor the page proofs are arriving in time to meet the deadline. Example:Neither the page proofs nor the contract is arriving in time to meet the deadline. Antecedent The noun the pronoun stands for. Apostrophes See Possession.