Subject Verb Agreement
Subjects and verbs must agree in number, which means that a singular subject requires a singular verb whereas
a plural subject requires a plural verb. Study the following examples which illustrate this principle:
I am here. (singular) You are here. (sing/pl) He is here. (singular) We are here. (plural)
I do yoga. (singular) You do yoga. (sing/pl) She does yoga. (singular) We do yoga. (plural)
I have pets. (singular) You have pets. (sing/pl) Joe has pets. (singular) We have pets. (plural)
I play piano. (singular) You play piano. (sing/pl) One plays
We play piano. (plural)
I was first. (singular) You were first. (sing/pl) It was first. (singular) We were first. (plural)
** Note: The third person singular form (he, she, Joe, one, it above) in the present tense is the only verb
form that requires an "s" ending (The past tense "was" is an exception to this rule.)
The following rules/suggestions should help you determine correct subject-verb agreement.
Connecting subjects with "and" usually makes them plural; therefore, to check for proper agreement you
can substitute the pronouns "they" or "we" for plural subjects. (Exceptions include pairs of words that are
considered to be one thing. Peanut butter and jelly is my favorite sandwich.) For example:
Mary and Jack are friends. The car and the truck run well. He and I are friends.
(They are friends) (They run well.) (We are friends.)
Connecting subjects with "or" or "nor" can require either a singular verb or plural verb; use the subject
closer to the verb to decide which form is correct. For example:
Neither she nor I am going Neither Jack nor Mary is going Joe or his brothers are on call.
Either Jane, Maria, Anne, Cassandra, or Ann has the tickets. His dog or my cats have to go!
3. Prepositional phrases never contain the subject of the sentence. In most cases, you should ignore the
prepositional phrase when trying to determine the correct verb form to use. For example:
One of the flowers is dying The coach, along with the players, is celebrating.
Neither of those boys has graduated. Either of those dresses looks fine.
Both of the books were on sale. Every one of the glasses is broken.
4. Singular indefinite pronouns require singular verbs. Examples of singular indefinite pronouns include the
following: one, anyone, everyone, someone, nobody, anybody, everybody, somebody, nothing, anything,
everything, something, each, either, neither.
Everyone is happy. Each of the sacks was full. Nobody was leaving. That one costs too much.
5. A few indefinite pronouns can be singular or plural, depending upon their use in the sentence. Often
information in a prepositional phrase can help you decide whether the pronoun is singular or plural. These
"two-way" pronouns are as follows: all, some, any, none, most, more, enough.
All of the pie was eaten. Most of the roof is finished. None of the snow has melted.
All of the pears were eaten. Most of the trees are dying. None of the boys have passed.
Subject Verb Agreement PDF
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