Subject verb agreement can be difficult for many people to learn. What is a subject verb agreement? Subject verb agreement refers to the fact the subject and the verb in a sentence must agree in number. In other words, they both must be singular, or they both must be plural. You can not have a singular subject with a plural verb, or vice versa. Getting to know the singular and plural forms of subjects and verbs is the issue.
Singular and plural subjects, or nouns, are usually pretty easy. In most cases, the plural form of a noun has an “s” at the end, Like this:
Car – singular
Cars – plural
Verbs do not follow this pattern though. Adding an “s” to a verb doesn’t make it plural. For example:
Which one is the singular form and which is the plural form? Here’s a tip for you. Ask yourself which one you would use with the word they, and which would you use with he or she.
Since he and she are singular pronouns, walks is a singular verb. The word they is plural, so walk is the plural form.
Here are some more guidelines for subject verb agreement.
Subject Verb Agreement Rule 1: When two singular subjects are joined by the words or, or nor, a singular verb is in order.
My sister or my brother is meeting you at the airport.
Subject Verb Agreement Rule 2: Two singular subjects joined by either/or, or neither/nor, also need a singular verb.
Neither Carla nor Jeff is available to meet you at the airport.
Either Angie or Jeff is meeting you at the airport.
Subject Verb Agreement Rule 3: When the word and connects two or more nouns or pronouns, use a plural verb.
She and her family are at Disney World.
Subject Verb Agreement Rule 4: When a compound subject contains a singular, a plural, or a pronoun joined by either or, or nor, the verb should agree with the part of the subject that is closest to the verb.
The athlete or his teammates sprint every day.
His teammates or the athlete sprints every day.
Subject Verb Agreement Rule 5: When a phrase comes between the subject and the verb, the verb has to agree with the subject, not with the noun or pronoun in the phrase.
Two of the puppies are whimpering.
The birthday boy, along with his friends, is anxious for the party to stop.
Subject Verb Agreement Rule 6: Since “doesn’t” is a contraction of does not, use it with a singular subject.
Mary doesn’t care for pizza.
Don’t is a contraction of do not and requires a plural subject.
They don’t know the way home.
Subject Verb Agreement Rule 7: Each, either, each one, everyone, neither, everybody, anyone, anybody, somebody, nobody, someone, and no one are singular, so they need a singular verb.
Each of the girls is qualified for the prize.
Neither knows how the competition will end.
Subject Verb Agreement Rule 8: Sentences that begin with there is or there are have the subject following the verb since there is not a subject. Therefore, the verb must agree with what follows it.
There are many paths to success.
There is one road out of town.
Subject verb agreement should not be among your list of errors when writing. Following the above rules will cut through a lot of the confusion that comes with getting your subject and verb to agree.
The above examples were pretty basic. Below we will dive deeper into more challenging subject verb agreement examples and issues that persist.
When the subject follows the verb, especially in sentences beginning with the expletives “there is” or “there are”, special attention is necessary to determine the subject and to make certain the verb agrees with it.
On the wall were several posters.
There are many possible candidates.
There is only one good candidate.
When words like “each” are the subject, words such as each, either, neither, another, anyone, somebody, something, one, everyone, everybody, everything, no one, nobody, and nothing take singular verbs.
Prepositional phrases, which come between a subject and its verb, do not change the number of the subject.
Each takes her turn at rowing.
Neither likes the friends of the other.
Everyone in the fraternity has his own set of prejudices.
Each of the rowers takes her turn at rowing.
Every one of the fraternity members has his own set of prejudices.
When words such as none, any, all, more, most, and some are used, take either singular or plural verbs. The context decides the factor on whether to use a singular or plural verb.
Below will be more examples of subject verb agreement. The subject is in bold and the verb is underlined.
- My dog always growls at the postal carrier.
- Basketballs roll across the floor.
- I don’t understand the assignment.
- These clothes are too small for me.
- Peter doesn’t like
- Sugar and flour are needed for the recipe.
- Neither my dad nor my brothers know how to ski.
- Pepperoni and cheese are great on a pizza.
- Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional meal in Ireland. (popular usage)
- The creator and producer is arriving soon.
- My mom or dad is coming to the play. (singular)
- Neither gray nor white is my favorite color. (singular)
- Either Grandpa or my sisters are going to the park. (closest subject is plural)
- Either my sisters or Grandpa is going to the park. (closest subject is singular)
- Neither she nor I am going to college. (closest subject is singular)
- Each gets a trophy for playing.
- Somebody will pay for this.
- Anybody is more fun than you.
- Something is very wrong here.
- Everybody enjoys a good book.
- Nothing has been determined as of yet.
- Both are qualified for the job.
- Many went to the beach and got sunburned.
- Few know what it really takes to get ahead.
- Several are already on location.
- Some sugar is required for taste. (sugar is uncountable so singular verb used)
- Most of the cookies were (cookies are countable so plural verb used)
- A theory of physics ascertains that a body in motion stays in motion.
- A virus in all the company’s computers is a real threat to security.
- The causes of this prevalent disease are bad diet and lack of exercise.
- The couch and chairI got at the store look really nice in here.
- The members of the choir are very happy with the performance
- The committee meets here every Thursday. (singular)
- The crowd is getting angry. (singular)
- The jury has finally reached a decision. (singular)
- The majority rules most of the time. (plural)
- The staff have gone their separate ways for the holidays. (plural)
- There are seven clean plates in the dining room.
- There is a hair in my lasagna.
- Over the rainbow flies a bird.
- How are the employees enjoying the new building?
- A good gift is a gift card.
Examples below are options with the possible correct tense, below them will be the answers.
1.Your friend (talk-talks) too much.
2. The man with the roses (look-looks) like your brother.
3. The women in the pool (swim-swims) well.
4. Bill (drive-drives) a cab.
5. The football players (run-runs) five miles every day.
6. That red-haired lady in the fur hat (live-lives) across the street.
7. He (cook-cooks) dinner for his family.
8. The boys (walk-walks) to school every day.
9. The weather on the coast (appear-appears) to be good this weekend.
10. The center on the basketball team (bounce-bounces) the ball too high.