Subject/verb agreement refers to the relationship between a subject and a verb; both must agree in number. A singular subject requires a singular verb. A plural subject requires a plural verb.
In a sentence, a subject can either be a noun, a pronoun, or a noun phrase; it acts as a “who” or “what” performing an action.
Noun: A noun is a person, place, or thing.
Pronoun: A pronoun substitutes for a noun or pronoun phrase. Examples include I, you, we, they, us, them, he, she, who, no one, etc.
Noun phrase: Noun phrases feature nouns with any modifiers, such as adjectives, or determiners, such as articles.
Verbs typically follow the subject in a sentence and indicate action in regard to the subject. Here are some examples to help (verbs are in bold and subjects are in italics):
Singular subjects will have singular verbs, which typically end in “-s.”
Plural subjects will use plural verbs, which don’t typically end in “-s.”
3rd person (she, he, it) singular verbs typically end in “-s.”
In compound sentences, which include more than one subject, verbs will be plural, and subjects will be connected by “and.” If your subjects are connected with “or,” the verb will agree with the subject it is closest to.
Compound sentences using “and”:
Compound sentences using “or”:
Here is an example with the subjects switched:
Here are some examples with specific subjects:
The following subjects are singular and will take a singular verb: each, each one, either, neither, everyone, anybody, anyone, nobody, somebody, someone, and no one.
Some subjects are referred to as noncount nouns, or those that have no measured quantity. Noncount nouns may be concepts, languages, activities, or other generic, uncountable ideas. These nouns will use a singular verb. Here are some examples.
Collective nouns, or those that refer to more than one person, will require a singular verb.
For sentences that begin with “There is,” or “There are,” the verb is placed before the subject but agrees with the subject that follows. Here are some examples:
*Remember to be consistent with your verbs when writing in one tense!
Present continuous tense verbs typically end in “-ing,” and refer to actions that have either not yet taken place, or are currently taking place.
- “Subject-Verb Agreement Rules.” Walden U.