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Subject-Verb Agreement


 Subject-Verb Agreement

Subject-Verb Agreement

Subject-verb agreement is an essential aspect of grammar that is often overlooked. It is a crucial component of effective communication, and mastering it is necessary for clear and concise writing. Subject-verb agreement errors are common and can affect the readability of a text. Understanding the basic rules of subject-verb agreement is crucial for writers to convey their message accurately. In this blog post, we will explore the intricacies of subject-verb agreement and provide practical tips on how to identify and correct errors. By the end of this post, readers will have a solid understanding of subject-verb agreement and will be better equipped to produce error-free writing.

Singular and Plural Subjects

A verb should agree in number with its subject.

Singular subjects take singular verbs.

  • Taylor draws designs for robots. [The singular subject Taylor agrees with the singular verb draws.]
Plural subjects take plural verbs.

  • Are those robots products of his designs? [The plural subject robots agrees with the plural verb Are.]


Subject-Verb Agreement Note

Verb phrases also agree with their subjects. A verb phrase is made up of a main verb and one or more helping verbs. The first helping verb in the verb phrase agrees with the subject.

  • Has he been designing robots for long? [Has been designing is the verb phrase. The singular helping verb has agrees with the singular subject he.]

Compound Subjects

Two or more subjects joined together form a compound subject. The words in a compound subject take the same verb.

Subjects joined by and usually take a plural verb.

  • Basil and thyme are herbs. [The subjects Basil and thyme are joined by and, so the compound subject agrees with the plural verb are.] 
  • Michelle and the others swim for the school team. [The subjects Michelle and others are joined by and, so the compound subject agrees with the plural verb swim.]
Singular subjects joined by or or nor take a singular verb.


  • Was the speech or the poster Grant’s idea? [Speech and poster are singular subjects joined by or. The compound subject agrees with the singular verb Was.]
When a singular subject and a plural subject are joined by or or nor, the verb agrees with the subject nearer the verb.


  • The speech or the posters were Grant’s idea. [Or joins speech, a singular subject, to posters, a plural subject. The plural verb were agrees with posters, the subject nearer the verb.] 
  • Neither the campaign buttons nor the Web site is ready. [Nor joins buttons, a plural subject, to Web site, a singular subject. The singular verb is agrees with Web site, the subject nearer the verb.]

Intervening Phrases and Clauses

The number of a subject is not changed by a word in a phrase or a clause following the subject.

  • The bread with walnuts is homemade. [The phrase with walnuts comes between the subject bread and its verb is. Although the plural noun walnuts comes between the subject and verb, bread and is still agree.] 
  • Bread, when we bake it, smells delicious. [The adverb clause when we bake it comes between the subject Bread and its verb smells. Although the plural pronoun we comes between the subject and verb, Bread and smells still agree.]

Indefinite Pronouns

Some indefinite pronouns are singular, some are plural, and some can be singular or plural, depending on how they are used.

Anybody, anyone, anything, each, either, everybody, everyone, everything, neither, nobody, no one, nothing, one, somebody, someone, and something are always singular.

  • Everybody likes the building’s new look. [The singular indefinite pronoun Everybody agrees with the singular verb likes.]
Both, few, many, and several are always plural.

  • Several of those birds have built nests. [The plural indefinite pronoun Several agrees with the plural verb phrase have built.] 
  • When are both arriving? [The plural indefinite pronoun both agrees with the plural verb phrase are arriving.]
The indefinite pronouns all, any, more, most, none, and some may be singular or plural, depending on their meaning in a sentence.
If the indefinite pronoun refers to a singular word, it is singular.
If the indefinite pronoun refers to a plural word, it is plural.

  • Some of the mail goes to Horace. [Some refers to the singular noun mailSome agrees with the singular verb goes.] 
  • Some of the letters go to Horace. [Some refers to the plural noun lettersSome agrees with the plural verb go.]

Don’t and Doesn’t

The contraction don’t stands for the words do not. The helping verb do is plural. The contraction doesn’t stands for the words does not. The helping verb does is singular.

The contractions don’t and doesn’t should agree with their subjects.

Use don’t with plural subjects and with the pronouns I and you.
Use doesn’t with singular subjects, except for the pronouns I and you.

  • Those beetles don’t scare me! [Both subject and verb are plural.] 
  • I don’t fear beetles. [I is the subject, so don’t agrees.] 
  • That beetle doesn’t scare me! [Both subject and verb are singular.]

Collective Nouns

Collective nouns name a group of people or things. Common collective nouns include

A collective noun may be either singular or plural, depending on its meaning in a sentence.

A collective noun is singular when it refers to the group as a whole. A collective noun is plural when it refers to the individual parts or members of the group.

  • The committee is meeting at four o’clock. [The group as a unit is meeting, so the noun is singular. The singular verb is agrees in number.] 
  • The committee are preparing their notes. [Individual members of the committee are preparing their notes, so the noun is plural. The plural verb are agrees in number.]

Expressions of Amount

An expression of an amount (a measurement, a percentage, or a fraction, for example) may be singular or plural, depending on how it is used.

When an expression of an amount refers to a unit, it is singular. When an expression of an amount refers to separate units, it is plural.

  • Ten minutes is the length of my speech. [The expression is of one unit of time, so it agrees with the singular verb is.] 
  • Ten minutes are slowly ticking by on the clock. [The expression is of individual minutes, so it agrees with the plural verb are.]
A fraction or a percentage is singular when it refers to a singular word. A fraction or a percentage is plural when it refers to a plural word.

  • One third of the barn needs paint. [The fraction refers to the singular word barn, so it agrees with the singular verb needs.] 
  • One third of the boards need paint. [The fraction refers to the plural word boards, so it agrees with the plural verb need.]
An expression of measurement such as length, weight, capacity, and area is usually singular.

  • Two acres is the size of Ty’s homestead. [The expression of measurement refers to an area, so it agrees with the singular verb is.]

Nouns Plural in Form

Some nouns that are plural in form take singular verbs.

Some of these nouns are

and physics.

  • Gymnastics demands time and dedication. [The noun Gymnastics agrees with the singular verb demands. Even though Gymnastics is plural in form, it is treated as one thing, a sport.]

Some plural nouns that refer to single items take plural verbs. Some of these nouns are

and trousers.

  • Are the pliers in Jessie’s toolbox? [The noun pliers agrees with the plural verb Are. Although pliers refers to one thing, it is treated as a plural noun.]

Titles and Names

Even when plural in form, the titles of creative works (such as books, songs, movies, or paintings) and the names of countries, cities, and organizations generally take singular verbs.

  • The Martian Chronicles describes the colonization of Mars. [Although the title is plural in form, it represents one book, so the verb is singular.] 
  • Los Alamos in New Mexico has been the site of an atomic energy facility. [The name of a city usually takes a singular verb.]

Relative Pronouns

When the relative pronoun that, which, or who is the subject of an adjective clause, the verb in the clause agrees with the word to which the relative pronoun refers.

  • These dolls, which are handmade, sell rapidly. [Which refers to the plural noun dolls, so the plural verb are agrees.] 
  • This doll, which is handmade, belongs to Nina. [Which refers to the singular noun doll, so the singular verb is agrees.]


Subject-verb agreement refers to the concept that the subject and verb in a sentence must agree in number (singular or plural). This means that a singular subject should have a singular verb, while a plural subject should have a plural verb.

Here are some different types of subject-verb agreement and examples of each:

1. Singular subject with singular verb
- The boy walks to school.
- The teacher grades the papers.
- The dog barks at the mailman.
- The tree sways in the wind.
- The movie starts at 7pm.

2. Plural subject with plural verb
- The boys walk to school.
- The teachers grade the papers.
- The dogs bark at the mailman.
- The trees sway in the wind.
- The movies start at 7pm.

3. Singular indefinite pronoun with singular verb
- Someone is knocking at the door.
- Anyone can learn to code.
- Nobody knows the answer.
- Each student receives a book.
- Either option works for me.

4. Plural indefinite pronoun with plural verb
- Some people believe in ghosts.
- Few students attend class on Fridays.
- Many cars were on the highway.
- Both teams play well.
- Several books are on the shelf.

5. Compound subject with plural verb
- The dog and the cat are sleeping.
- My sister and I are going to the park.
- The sun and the moon shine brightly.
- Science and math are important subjects.
- Cookies and milk are great snacks.

Remember, subject-verb agreement is an important part of writing and speaking correctly in English.

Subject-Verb Agreement Quizizz Quiz

Mr. ‏El-Sayed Ramadan ‎ ‎


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