Subjects and verbs form a significant part of any statement that you make. So, if your aim is to have perfect grammar, you need to memorize the rules that apply when a subject and a verb are put together. These rules are collectively known as subject-verb agreement. We agree that this subject-verb agreement can be a bit tricky and complicated but once you learn these rules, you will use verbs in their correct form with ease. To make your work easier, here is a list of the most common subject-verb agreement rules with examples. Go through them, and you are ready to ace any test on subject-verb agreement.
This Blog Includes:
- What is Subject-Verb Agreement?
- Subject-Verb Agreement Rules with Examples
- Rule 1. A Singular Subject Goes with a Singular Verb
- Rule 2. A Plural Subject Goes with a Plural Verb
- Rule 3. Joined by And
- Rule 4. Conjunction connect Singular and Plural Subjects
- Rule 5. A Sentence Contains Both a Singular and a Plural Pronoun
- Rule 6. Using “Do not” and “Does not” in Sentences
- Rule 7. The Sentence Has an Additional Phrase
- Rule 8. Words like Each, Every and No are the subject
- Rule 9. Mass nouns like Civics, Mathematics, Dollars are the Subject
- Rule 10. Plurale Tantum are the Subject
- Rule 11. Collective Nouns are the Subject
- Rule 12. If the subject is singular, the verb will also be singular
- 15+ Subject-Verb Agreement Examples
- Exceptions to the Subject-Verb Agreement Rules
- Subject-Verb Agreement Exercises
What is Subject-Verb Agreement?
Subject-verb agreement, also known as “subject-verb concord,” is the matching of a sentence’s subject and verb in tense, aspect, and mood (abbreviated as TAM), which translates to number, person, and gender.
Except for pronouns, English does not utilise grammatical gender, and only the verb be changed depending on whether it is in the first, second, or third person. That means that the majority of English subject-verb agreement is based on quantity: if the subject is singular, the verb must be singular; if the subject is numerous, the verb must be plural.
When the subject follows the verb (especially in sentences beginning with the expletives “there is” or “there are”), special care is needed to determine the subject and to make certain that the verb agrees with it. For example, if you use a single subject ‘He’ then the single verb ‘is’ would appear- ‘He is talking too much. The two subjects and verbs must be aligned to ensure agreement.
Even this can be perplexing because the first-person singular (“I climb the fence”) has the identical verb pattern as the first-person plural (“We climb the fence”). Subject-verb agreement in English, aside from the verb be, adapts verbs to the third-person singular (“It climbs the fence”).
Subject-Verb Agreement Rules with Examples
Let’s begin with the 12 most common and important rules of Subject-Verb Agreement:
Subject = underlined
Verb = Italicized
Rule 1. A Singular Subject Goes with a Singular Verb
A singular subject goes with a singular verb.
|Incorrect||Sohra play the guitar every day.|
|Correct||Sohra plays the guitar every day.|
In this statement, Sohra is singular and therefore will take on a singular verb i.e., plays.
Rule 2. A Plural Subject Goes with a Plural Verb
The second rule of Subject-Verb Agreement is as follows: A plural subject goes with a plural verb.
|Incorrect||They plays the guitar every day.|
|Correct||They play the guitar every day.|
In this statement, They is a plural pronoun and therefore will take on a plural verb i.e., play.
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Rule 3. Joined by And
The next rule of Subject-Verb Agreement says that if in a sentence two or more nouns or pronouns are connected using “and” then the verb used will be plural.
|Incorrect||Rahul and Anekha is siblings.|
|Correct||Rahul and Anekha are siblings|
In this statement, there are two nouns Rahul and Anekha connected by “and” and therefore the verb used is plural i.e., “are”.
|Incorrect||Rahul and Anekha sings together|
|Correct||Rahul and Anekha sing together|
In this statement also, there are two nouns and therefore the verb used is plural i.e., sing.
Rule 4. Conjunction connect Singular and Plural Subjects
The next rule of Subject-Verb Agreement focuses on the use of or/nor. If in a sentence two or more nouns or pronouns are connected using “or/nor” then the verb used will be singular.
|Incorrect||Your class teacher or the principal sanction your leave application.|
|Correct||Your class teacher or the principal sanctions your leave application.|
In this statement, the two nouns class teacher and principal are connected using “or” and therefore the verb used is singular i.e. sanctions.
Rule 5. A Sentence Contains Both a Singular and a Plural Pronoun
In this rule of Subject-Verb Agreement, when a sentence contains both a singular and a plural pronoun, the verb used will be according to the pronoun closer to the verb.
|Incorrect||Shiva and his friends meets every week at the cafeteria|
|Correct||Shiva and his friends meet every week at the cafeteria.|
In this statement, the plural noun “friends” is closest to the verb and therefore will be plural i.e., meet.
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Rule 6. Using “Do not” and “Does not” in Sentences
A singular pronoun uses “does not” and a plural one uses “do not”. But there is an exception to this rule. This rule of Subject-Verb Agreement explains that “Do not” is used with the singular pronouns “I” and “You” instead of “do not” as it ideally should be.
|Incorrect||She do not eat ice cream|
|Correct||She does not eat ice cream|
In this statement, she is singular and therefore, the verb will not be used.
|Incorrect||They does not eat ice cream.|
|Correct||They do not eat ice cream.|
In this statement, they is plural and therefore, the verb do not will be used.
|Incorrect||I does not eat ice cream|
|Correct||I do not eat ice cream|
In this statement, I am a singular pronoun but do not will be using it along with it instead of does not. And that’s why it’s an exception.
Rule 7. The Sentence Has an Additional Phrase
In case a sentence has an additional phrase, the verb should always agree with the subject of the statement and not be influenced by the pronouns or nouns of the additional phrase.
|Incorrect||This book, as well as all the other books of this writer are boring.|
|Correct||This book, as well as all the other books of this writer is boring.|
In this statement, “this book” is the subject and it’s singular. Therefore, the verb used will also be singular i.e., “is” and not “are”.
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Rule 8. Words like Each, Every and No are the subject
The next rule of Subject-Verb Agreement is about the use of each, each one, either, neither, everyone, everybody, anybody, anyone, nobody, somebody, someone, and no one as words which are singular in nature and therefore will always use a singular verb.
|Incorrect||Each one of you are going to give a live presentation.|
|Correct||Each one of you is going to give a live presentation.|
In this statement, “each one” is used and therefore, the singular verb “is” will be used.
|Incorrect||Neither one of you are allowed to go home.|
|Correct||Neither one of you is allowed to go home.|
In this statement, “neither” is used and therefore, the singular verb “is” will be used.
Rule 9. Mass nouns like Civics, Mathematics, Dollars are the Subject
Mass nouns like civics, mathematics, dollars, measles, and news which cannot be counted use singular verbs under the rules of Subject-Verb Agreement.
|Incorrect||Mathematics are my favourite subject.|
|Correct||Mathematics is my favourite subject.|
In this statement, the mass noun “mathematics” is used along with a singular verb i.e., is.
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Rule 10. Plurale Tantum are the Subject
In English, there is a set of nouns called Plurale Tantum which doesn’t have a singular form like trousers, scissors, pants, etc. Such nouns always use a plural verb.
|Incorrect||Those black trousers is mine|
|Correct||Those black trousers are mine.|
In this statement, black trousers refer to a single object but use the plural verb i.e., are.
Rule 11. Collective Nouns are the Subject
In this rule of Subject-Verb Agreement, collective nouns like class, committee, family, group, etc take on singular verbs.
|Incorrect||The history class start at 9 a.m.|
|Correct||The history class starts at 9 a.m.|
In this statement, history class is a collective noun and therefore the singular noun “starts” will be used along with it.
Rule 12. If the subject is singular, the verb will also be singular
The number of subjects is not influenced by expressions like accompanied by, in addition to or including. If the subject is singular, the verb will also be singular and it will remain so irrespective of such expressions.
|Incorrect||Neha, accompanied by her sister, are going to perform today.|
|Correct||Neha, accompanied by her sister, is going to perform today.|
In this statement, the subject “Neha” is singular and therefore the verb used is also singular i.e., “is”. The phrase accompanied by has no impact on the verb.
15+ Subject-Verb Agreement Examples
We move on to make a comprehensive list of the examples of subject-verb agreement.
The examples of subject-verb agreement with compound subjects are as follows:
- Sugar and flour are needed for the recipe.
- Neither my mom nor my sisters know how to swim.
- The creator and producer is arriving soon
Singular Indefinite Pronouns
- Something feels wrong here.
- Everybody enjoys a good cup of tea.
- Each does a good job at work.
Plural Indefinite Pronouns
- Several have reached the hotel.
- The bag of cookies were eaten.
- Both have had bad phases in life.
Noun Phrase as Subject
- The causes of this accident are poor driving and indiscipline.
- The bed and table I got at the showroom look really nice in here.
- The members of the football team are very happy with the performance.
- The crowd is cheering.
- The jury has made an unfair decision.
- The majority has the authority most of the time.
- How are the friends taking the bad news?
- There are stones in my bag.
Titles of Single Entities
- Game of Thrones is a very long book to read.
Exceptions to the Subject-Verb Agreement Rules
- “Neither” and “either” require singular verbs even though they seem to be referring to two separate things.
- When a sentence compounds a positive and a negative subject and only one is plural, the verb should agree with the positive subject.
- “Anyone,” “everyone,” “someone,” “no one,” and “nobody” always require singular verbs.
- Words that indicate portions of a whole, such as “percent,” “fraction,” “some,” “none,” and “remainder,” require a singular verb only if the object of the preposition is singular.
- “Who,” “that,” and “which” can be singular or plural, according to the noun directly in front of them.
- The phrase introduced by “as well as” or “along with” modifies the earlier word but doesn’t compound the subjects.
- Modifiers between the subject and verb do not affect whether the verb is singular or plural.
Subject-Verb Agreement Exercises
So, these are the major rules of subject-verb agreement. We hope you understand each and every rule. Now it’s time to test your knowledge. Solve these questions and let’s see how many of them you get right on the first go.
- John and his brother (is/are) playing football.
- Aryan (do not/does not) like to play basketball.
- Either of you (have/has) stolen the book.
- Your pants (is/are) in the top shelf.
- My family (belongs/belong) to the Mahou tribe.
- Mr, Swamy as well as his family (is/are) quite humble.
- Mary (sing/sings) very well.
- The novel, including all the essays (take/takes) about two hours to read.
- They (eat/eats) lunch together everyday.
- The players as well as the coach (want/wants) to win.
- My parents (lives/live) in Australia.
- Do anyone (knows/know) where the grocery store is?
- The little boy (do not/does not) like apples for some reason.
- Kavita and her sister (is/are) here to see you.
- You (has/have) brought all that I had asked for.
- Does not
- Does not
Ans: The subject is a thing which we are talking about like-
1. Tina is reading a book.
2. Sofia is eating an Apple.
3. Ram is dancing.
4. Riya is playing
5. Tarun is doing his HW on pc
6. Tushar is writing a letter to his Granny
Ans: Complete subject, simple subject, and compound subject.
Ans: The Collins Dictionary defines “concord” as the manner a term has a form that is appropriate for the number or gender of the noun or pronoun it refers to. The singular verb form and the singular pronoun “she,” for instance, are in agreement in the sentence “She hates it.”
With this blog, we hope that you understood what Subject-Verb Agreement rules are and how they are applied. Gearing up for exams like IELTS or TOEFL? Reach out to our Leverage Live experts and we will help you curate a winning preparation strategy to achieve your dream score! Call us immediately at 1800 57 2000 for a free 30-minute counselling session.