Subject Verb Agreement

subject verb agreement

Introduction

In English, subjects and verbs have to match with regards to the number they represent; this is known as subject verb agreement.

For example, if we have a singular subject then we also need a singular verb.

He sometimes drinks coffee in the morning.

On the other hand, if we have a plural subject then we will need a plural verb.

They sometimes drink coffee in the morning.

This is the basic rule, however there are some more rules we need to learn in order to get things right in each situation.


Add-on Subjects

Parentheses should not be included in the subject.

James (and his wife) is going on holiday.

Words / phrases such as “as well as”, “along with” etc are not a part of the subject.

James, as well as his wife, is going on holiday.


Compound Subjects

When we join two singular subjects with “and” then we treat them as a plural.

Jane and John are going to be visiting me this evening.

When we join two subjects with “or” / “nor” then the verb has to agree with the subject closest to it.

Jane or John is going to be visiting me this evening.

Jane or my other friends are going to be visiting me this evening.


Inverted Subjects

Sometimes, our subjects will come after the verb. In these cases the subjects still need to agree with the verbs.

There are twenty books here.

There is one computer here.


Modal Verbs

With modal verbs, we don’t change the verb to match the subject and it stays the same for all singular and plural subjects.

He can sing.

They can sing.


Possessives

When we use a possessive ‘s’ then the subject is the thing being possessed.

Jane’s flowers are nice.

However, when we use “of“, the subject is the word / phrase before “of“.

This bouquet of flowers is nice.


Collective Nouns

Depending on the situation, a collective noun (crowd, jury, team etc) could either be treated as singular or plural.

The team has too many players. (emphasis on the team being a single unit)

The team have worked really hard. (emphasis on the team being a group of individuals)


Subject Verb Agreement Quiz

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Subject Verb Agreement

Introduction In English, subjects and verbs have to match with regards to the number they represent; this is known as subject verb agreement. For example, if we have a singular subject then we also need a singular verb. He sometimes drinks coffee in the morning. On the other hand, if we have a plural subject…

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Modal Verbs

What Is A Modal Verb? We could go to the cinema. I can speak English. You must read this. A modal verb is used to support another verb and express things such as possibility, ability, permission, request or obligation. In a similar way to other auxiliary verbs, we cannot use modal verbs by themselves, they…

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Vocabulary Placement Test

Introduction Find out your estimated vocabulary range with this vocabulary placement test. For each word, simply select which words you “know” or “don’t know” the definition of. At the end, you will be told your estimated passive vocabulary range as well as estimated CEFR level. Enter your email at the end to see your results…

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Compound Nouns

What Is A Compound Noun? A compound noun is a noun that is made up of two or more separate words (although usually made of just two). house + plant = houseplant Although we can often form these using nouns, there are many methods of construction. You will also notice that compound nouns can be…

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