Subject-Verb Agreement

Subject-Verb Agreement

Subjects and verbs
must AGREE with one another in number (singular or plural).  Thus,
if a subject is singular, its verb must also be singular; if a subject is
plural, its verb must also be plural.

In present tenses, nouns and verbs form plurals
in opposite ways:  

ADD an s
to the singular form,


REMOVE an s from the singular


Here are nine subject-verb agreement rules.

A phrase or

between subject and verb
does not change the number of the subject.





Indefinite pronouns as subjects

  •    Singular
    indefinite pronoun subjects
    take singular verbs.




  •    Plural indefinite
    pronoun subjects
    take plural verbs.

several, few, both, many



  •    Some indefinite
    may be either singular or
    : with uncountable, use singular;
    with countable, use

EITHER SINGULAR OR PLURAL:  some, any, none, all,


Sugar is uncountable; therefore, the sentence has a singular verb.



Marbles are countable; therefore, the sentence has a plural verb.




Compound subjects joined by and
are always plural.



4.  With compound
subjects joined by or/nor
, the
verb agrees with the subject nearer to it.


the above example, the plural verb are agrees with the nearer
subject actors.



In this example, the singular verb is agrees with the nearer
subject director.


Inverted Subjects
must agree with the




Collective Nouns
jury, crowd, team, etc.)
may be singular or plural, depending on meaning.


this example, the jury is acting as one unit; therefore, the verb is singular.



In this example, the jury members are acting as twelve individuals; therefore,
the verb is plural.



Titles of single entities
organizations, countries,
are always singular.



Plural form subjects

  • Plural form subjects
    with a singular meaning
    take a singular verb. (e.g. news, measles,
    mumps, physics, etc.)



  • Plural form subjects
    with singular or plural meaning
    take a singular or plural verb, depending on meaning.  (e.g. politics, economics, etc.)


this example, politics is a single topic; therefore, the sentence has a singular


In this example, politics refers to the many aspects of the situation;
therefore, the sentence has a plural verb.


  • Plural form subjects
    with a plural meaning
    take a plural verb. (e.g.  scissors, trousers)



Note:  In this example, the subject of the sentence is pair;
therefore, the verb must agree with it.  (Because scissors is the
object of the preposition, scissors does
not affect the number of the verb.)


With subject and subjective
complement of different number
, the verb always
agrees with the subject.




10-A. With
one of those ________ who
, use
a plural verb.


     The above example implies
that others besides Hannah like to read comic books.  Therefore, the plural
verb is the correct form to use. 


10-B.  With
the only one of those
use a singular verb.


     The above example implies that no one else
except for Hannah likes to read comic books.  Therefore, the singular verb
is the correct for to use.


11-A.  With
the number of _______,
use a
singular verb.



11-B.  With
a number of _______
use a
plural verb.



12.  With
every ______
many a ________
, use a singular verb.






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See more articles in category: Grammar
READ:  The Present Progressive Tense- Examples and Exercises

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