Subject – Verb Agreement
Simple Agreement A verb must agree with its subject in person and number. In the present tense, add “s” or “es” to the base form for the third person singular. Remember to make a noun plural you add an “s” or “es”, but a verb is just the opposite you add an “s” or “es” to make it singular. Example: Singular She runs He watches Plural They run They watch
Simple Agreement In verb phrases, the helping verbs be, have, and do change forms to agree with third person subjects. Examples: Singular It is green. He was sick. She has fallen down. Does she like to ski? Plural They are green. They were sick. They have fallen down. Do they like to ski?
Intervening Prepositional Phrases The verb must agree with the subject of the sentence, not with the object of a preposition. Therefore, the subject of a sentence is never contained in the prepositional phrase. subject Prepositional Phrase verb The collection of rare stamps was very valuable. subject Prepositional Phrase verb The puppies in the basket have brown fur.
Linking Verbs In sentences with linking verbs, the verb agrees with the subject, not the predicate nominative. subject verb Predicate nominative Roses and Lavender make a lovely bouquet. subject verb Unfortunately, the result of the discussion was more disagreements. Predicate nominative
Inverted Sentences In most sentences the subject comes before the verb. However, some inverted sentences begin with a prepositional phrase followed by the verb and then the subject. Remember the verb must agree with the subject and not the object of the prepositional phrase. Prepositional Phrase verb subject Up into the sky fly the birds. Prepositional Phrase verb subject From the rafters hang the decorations.
Inverted Sentences In sentences that begin with here or there, DO NOT confuse either word with the subject. Look for the subject after the verb subject Here is my driver’s license verb subject There are many cars on this highway. Questions are inverted sentences. A helping verb often comes before the subject. verb subject verb Does Jamie Have a pencil? verb subject verb Do all of the students have books?
Special Subjects A collective noun names a group. In a sentence, a collective noun is singular when it names the group as a whole. It is plural when it refers to individual members of a group. Singular: The club holds a dance. The team wins the game. Plural: The class volunteer time. A noun of amount can refer to a single unit, in which case it is singular. It can also refer to several individual units, in which case it is plural. Singular: Two weeks is not enough time to see Europe. Plural: Your five days of probation are up.
Special Subjects Some nouns ending in “s” take a singular form while others remain plural. Many nouns that end in “ics” are either singular or plural, depending on the context. Singular: Mumps is usually a childhood disease. Plural: The scissors need to be sharpened. Singular: Ethics is the study of principles of conduct. Plural: That politician’s ethics have a lot to be desired.
Compound Subjects A compound subject that is joined by and or both…. and is usually plural. Some compound subjects have two parts that make up one unit, these take a singular verb. Singular: Bacon and eggs is my favorite breakfast. Plural: The dog and cat are playing. Plural: Both Anna and Mindy work at the hospital. Compound subjects joined by or, nor, either…or, or neither…nor always have a verb that agrees with the closer subject. Singular: Either Carlo or Max has the book. Singular: Neither eggs nor bacon is on the menu. Plural: Neither Ed nor the boys have much to say.
Compound Subjects When a compound subject is preceded by many a, every, or each, the subject takes a singular verb. Many a hiker and climber has gotten lost in these mountains. Every door and window has been locked. Each nook and cranny is being searched. Every car and truck pays a toll on the highway. Many a horse and cow has lived in this barn.
Intervening Expressions Certain expressions seem to create compound subjects, but DO NOT. Accompanied by, as well as, in addition to, and together with are expressions that introduce phrases that tell about the subject. The subject remains singular and takes a singular verb. subject Intervening expression verb Nebraska, as well as Montana and Idaho, gets severe winters. subject Intervening expression verb Dan, plus Andrea and John, plays the piano. subject Intervening expression verb Jean, accompanied by her friends, goes skiing every winter.
Indefinite Pronouns Many subjects are indefinite pronouns. A verb must agree with the indefinite pronoun used as the subject Singular: Nobody in the group is to blame. subject Singular: verb prepositional phrase verb Both of my sisters are in the play. subject Plural: prepositional phrase One of my friends speaks Greek. subject Plural: verb Neither is ready. subject Singular: prepositional phrase verb Many of the students play tennis.
Indefinite Pronouns Some pronouns can be either singular or plural, depending on the nouns to which they refer. Singular: Some of the cake is gone. Plural: Some of the houses need paint. Singular: All of the pizza is gone. Plural: All of the coats are on sale.
Subject Verb Agreement Subject Verb Agreement