Rules of Subject-Verb Agreement Rules With Examples

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Subject-verb agreement is a grammatical rule in English that ensures the verb matches the subject in number and person. This means if the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular, and if the subject is plural, the verb must be plural.

This rule is essential for constructing clear and coherent sentences.

For example, in the sentence “The dog barks,” “dog” is a singular subject matched with the singular verb “barks.”

In contrast, for a plural subject like “The dogs bark,” the verb “bark” is also plural.

Proper subject-verb agreement avoids confusion and maintains sentence structure integrity.

Here are some basic rules with examples to help you understand this concept:

  1. Singular subjects take singular verbs, and plural subjects take plural verbs.
    • The cat runs fast.
    • The cats run fast.
  2. When subjects are joined by ‘and,’ use a plural verb.
    • The boy and the girl are friends.
    • The dog and the cat are sleeping.
  3. With subjects joined by ‘or’ or ‘nor,’ the verb agrees with the subject closer to it.
    • Either the teacher or the students are in the wrong.
    • Neither the students nor the teacher is available.
  4. Indefinite pronouns such as ‘everyone,’ ‘someone,’ ‘each,’ ‘neither,’ ‘either,’ ‘anyone,’ ‘nobody,’ ‘somebody,’ ‘everybody,’ ‘no one,’ ‘nothing,’ and ‘everything’ usually take singular verbs.
    • Everyone is invited to the party.
    • Nobody knows the truth.
  5. When a compound subject is connected by ‘along with,’ ‘as well as,’ or ‘in addition to,’ the verb agrees with the first subject.
    • The teacher, along with the students, is going on a field trip.
    • The principal, as well as the teachers, is attending the meeting.
  6. Collective nouns like ‘team,’ ‘group,’ ‘jury,’ ‘family,’ ‘audience,’ ‘crowd,’ etc., can take a singular or plural verb depending on whether the group acts as a single unit or as individuals.
    • The team is winning the match. (acting as a single unit)
    • The team are wearing their new uniforms. (acting as individuals)
  7. When the subject is a number or a measurement, it usually takes a singular verb.
    • Ten dollars is a high price for that.
    • Two gallons is enough to fill the tank.
  8. Titles of books, movies, organizations, and other entities are treated as singular and take a singular verb.
    • “The Lord of the Rings” is my favorite movie.
    • The United Nations is headquartered in New York.

Subject Verb Agreement

Remember, the key to mastering subject-verb agreement is practice and paying attention to the subject’s form in relation to the verb in your sentences.

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