English Grammar

What is Subject-Verb Agreement? Definition with Rules

What is Subject-Verb Agreement? -Definition with Rules
Written by iLmrary

It is essential to learn that the verb you have chosen in a sentence must agree with the subject in the following aspects: Meaning and structure. Subject-verb agreement works properly only when there is an agreement between the subject and verb. There are a few more things which the subject should have the same with the verb: it should also agree in number, and person as well. The Verb is supposed to match with the number and sometimes the person in English. Like, He or She, verbs usually end with S or ES ( like runs or eats )
Remember that It’s all about making sure that the words in our sentences match up correctly.

What is Subject-Verb Agreement? Definition with Rules

What is Subject-Verb Agreement?

What is a Subject-Verb Agreement?

Subject-verb agreement means that when you talk about one thing, the action word (the verb) has to match with the subject. If you’re talking about one person or thing (like ‘he’ or ‘she’ or ‘it’), the action word needs to agree with the doer of action and also be for just one thing. And if you’re talking about more than one person or thing (like ‘they’ or ‘we’ or ‘dogs’), then the action word has to show that there’s more than one doing the action in a sentence.

Rules of Subject-Verb Agreement

Rule 1:
Singular Subjects and Singular Verbs

It is to be made sure that if a verb is singular in form, the verb should also be singular in form. For Examples

  • The dog barks loudly at strangers.
  • My sister always takes the bus to work.
  • The sunflower in the garden blooms beautifully.

Rule 2:
Plural Subjects and Plural Verbs

When There is a plural verb in a sentence, The subject should also be plural. For Examples

  • Birds sing in the morning.
  • Cars move quickly on the highway.
  • Friends gather for a weekend barbecue.

Rule 3:
Words Between Subject and Verb

When a subject is made of  words like And, Or, or Nor. the verb should also be in plural form. For Examples

  • Peanut butter and jelly is a classic sandwich.
  • Neither the cat nor the kittens have been fed.
  • Pizza or pasta is on the menu for dinner.

Rule 4:
Indefinite Pronouns

There are words in English called, Indefinite pronouns, like everyone or nobody, These words are also treated as singular, and the verb should match according to the words in a sentence. For Examples

  • Everyone enjoys a good story.
  • Somebody has left their umbrella here.
  • Neither of the options is suitable.

Rule 5:
Collective Nouns

There are words in English called, Collective nouns, such as team or family, These words can be used in singular or plural form based on context. For Examples

  • The team celebrates its victory with a parade.
  • The family goes on vacations every summer.
  • The committee has made a decision.

Rule 6:
Each and Every

There are words like Each and Every, are considered singular in form, so the verb that follows should also be singular. For Examples

  • Each student receives a certificate.
  • Every morning brings new opportunities.
  • Each of the employees is responsible for their tasks.

Rule 7:
Fractions and Percentages
When the subject has a fraction or percentage, the verb agree will agree with the noun using the following word OF. For Examples

  • Fifty percent of the population supports the new law.
  • A quarter of the team is on vacation.
  • Three-fourths of the pizza has been eaten

Rule 8:
Intervening Phrases
 Prepositional phrases are called Intervening phrases which do not have any effect on the subject-verb agreement. The verb agrees with the subject. For Examples

  • The group of students, along with their teacher, is going on a field trip.
  • A box of chocolates with a red ribbon makes a delightful gift.
  • The cat, as well as the kittens, needs to be fed.

Rule 10:
Words that Indicate Amounts

There are words in English, that are used to tell amounts, such as A lot, A great deal,  or  A ton, are considered singular and take a singular verb. For Examples

  • A lot of information was covered in the lecture.
  • A ton of work goes into organizing a festival.
  • A great deal of effort has been put into the project.

Rule 10:
Expressions of Time, Money, and Distance
There are some some expressions used to describe the following things: Time, Money, or Distance, are the subjects of a sentence, the verb should agree with the quantity expressed in a sentence. For Examples

  • Five days is enough time to finish the project.
  • Fifty dollars is the cost of the ticket.
  • Ten miles is a long distance to walk.

Rule 11:
Subjects Connected by ‘and’
When two singular subjects are joined by the following word  ‘And,’ the verb is plural. For Examples

  • Jack and Jill are going up the hill.
  • Peanut butter and jelly make a tasty sandwich.
  • The cat and the dog play in the backyard.

Rule 12:
Singular Indefinite Pronouns

Some indefinite pronouns are singular and require a singular verb. For Examples

  • Everybody wants to be happy.
  • Somebody is at the door.
  • Each of the students has a different perspective.

Rule 13:
Plural Indefinite Pronouns

Other indefinite pronouns are plural and require a plural verb. For Examples

  • Many have tried, but few have succeeded.
  • Both are equally important.
  • Several were absent from the meeting.

Rule 14:
Singular and Plural Nouns Joined by ‘Or’ or ‘Nor’
When singular and plural nouns are joined  by Or’ or ‘Nor’, the verb agrees with the noun  which is very close to it. For Examples

  • Neither the cat nor the kittens are in the basket.
  • Either the parents or the teacher have to attend the meeting.
  • Neither the cake nor the cookies is ready.

Rule 15:
‘There’ as the Subject

When the word There’ is used as a subject, the verb agrees with the true subject that follows the verb. For Examples

  • There is a problem with the computer.
  • There are several solutions to the issue.
  • There was a loud noise in the hallway.

Rule 16:
Titles of Creative Works (Plays, Movies, Novels)

There are various kinds of Title for creative works that are considered singular and also take a singular verb, while  there are also some titles that are plural, take a plural verb. For Examples

  • Romeo and Juliet is a famous play by William Shakespeare.
  • The Lord of the Rings trilogy has become a classic.
  • “The Three Musketeers” are characters in a novel.

Rule 17:
Special Nouns (e.g., News, Politics, Athletics)

There are some certain nouns, such as news, politics, athletics, are generally treated as singular, and the verb agrees according to that.
For Examples

  • Politics is a complex field of study.
  • The news about the accident was shocking.
  • Athletics has always been his passion.

Rule 18:
Uncountable Nouns
Uncountable nouns are used to describe things that are not counted easily. They usually take a singular verb. For Examples

  • The equipment in the laboratory needs calibration.
  • Happiness is a choice.
  • This information is accurate.

Rule 19:
Indirect Questions
When we want to express an idea or report an indirect question, The verb will agree with the subject of the original question. For Examples

  • She asked where the keys were.
  • I wonder what the final exam questions are.
  • He inquired about what time the meeting starts.

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