Understanding Subject-Verb Agreement

Understanding Subject-Verb Agreement

Subject-verb agreement is a crucial rule in the English language that helps ensure that sentences are grammatically correct. In a sentence, the subject and the verb must agree in number, meaning they must both be either singular or plural. Let’s explore this rule in more detail.

What is Subject-Verb Agreement?

In every sentence, there is a subject, which tells us what or whom the sentence is about, and a verb, which expresses the action or state of being. Subject-verb agreement means that the form of the verb must change according to whether the subject is singular or plural. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Singular Subject: The dog barks loudly.
  • Plural Subject: The dogs bark loudly.

In the first example, “dog” is singular, so the verb “barks” also needs to be singular. In the second example, “dogs” is plural, so the verb “bark” needs to be plural as well.

How to Identify the Subject and the Verb

To ensure subject-verb agreement, it’s crucial to be able to identify the subject and the verb in a sentence. The subject is the main noun, pronoun, or noun phrase that the sentence is about. The verb is the action word that shows what the subject is doing. Let’s practice identifying subjects and verbs in sentences:

  1. The sun shines brightly.
  2. She reads a book every day.
  3. The students are studying for their exams.

In each sentence, try to identify the subject and the verb. Remember, they must agree in number!

Singular and Plural Subjects

Subjects can be singular or plural, and this affects the form of the verb. Here are some examples of sentences with singular and plural subjects:

  • Singular Subject: The teacher explains the lesson.
  • Plural Subject: The teachers explain the lesson.

Notice how the verb changes from “explains” to “explain” based on whether the subject is singular or plural.

Tricky Singular and Plural Nouns

Some nouns can be deceptive when it comes to determining whether they are singular or plural. For example, words like “news,” “mathematics,” and “civics” are singular even though they may look plural. Let’s see how subject-verb agreement works with these words:

  • The news is interesting today.
  • Mathematics is her favorite subject.
  • Civics is taught in the sixth grade.

In each of these sentences, even though the nouns seem plural, they are treated as singular for subject-verb agreement.

Agreement with Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns, such as “everyone,” “nobody,” and “anybody,” are singular and require singular verbs. Let’s practice matching singular verbs with indefinite pronouns:

  • Everybody loves a good story.
  • Nobody wants to be late.
  • Anybody can join the club.

Remember, indefinite pronouns are always singular, so the verb that follows them should also be singular.

Subject-Verb Agreement in Questions

When forming questions, it’s essential to maintain subject-verb agreement. In questions, the subject may come after the verb, but the agreement rule still applies. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Does he like ice cream?
  • Have you finished your homework?
  • Is she coming to the party?

Notice how the verbs “like,” “finished,” and “coming” are still in agreement with their subjects, even though the subjects follow the verbs in these questions.

Practice Makes Perfect

Understanding subject-verb agreement takes practice, but with time, it will become second nature. Remember to pay attention to the number of the subject and choose the corresponding form of the verb. Let’s practice with a few more sentences to solidify our understanding:

  1. The boy plays soccer every day.
  2. The girls laugh loudly in the classroom.
  3. There is a cat and two dogs in the yard.

Keep practicing, and soon subject-verb agreement will be effortless for you!


Subject-verb agreement is a fundamental rule in English grammar that helps maintain clarity and correctness in writing. By ensuring that the subject and the verb agree in number, we create sentences that are easy to read and understand. Remember to identify the subject and the verb in a sentence and choose the appropriate form of the verb based on whether the subject is singular or plural. With practice, you’ll master subject-verb agreement and improve the quality of your writing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Translate »