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What is Subject-Verb Agreement? -Definition with Rules

What is Subject-Verb Agreement? -Definition with Rules
What is Subject-Verb Agreement?

Hey there! Let’s chat about something super important in English – it’s called Subject-Verb Agreement. It’s all about making sure that the words in our sentences match up correctly. When we talk about a single thing, like one cat or one dog, we want the words that go with it (the subject and the verb) to agree and match – so if there’s just one, we use the word “is.” If there’s more than one, like lots of cats or dogs, we use “are.” It’s like making sure our words are buddies and get along well! To make it even clearer, let’s check out some simple Subject-Verb Agreement examples. Learning this stuff is like having a secret code to make our sentences sound just right. So, if you’re into words and making your sentences sound awesome, let’s dive into the world of Subject-Verb Agreement together!

What is Subject-Verb Agreement? -Definition with Rules
What is Subject-Verb Agreement?

What is a Subject-Verb Agreement?

Subject-verb agreement is a grammatical concept that ensures consistency in a sentence by making sure that the subject and the verb match in terms of number and person. In simpler terms, if the subject of a sentence is singular, the verb should also be singular, and if the subject is plural, the verb should be plural as well. This agreement between the subject and the verb helps convey the intended meaning clearly and avoids confusion. Subject-verb agreement is crucial for grammatical correctness and effective communication in both written and spoken language. Understanding and applying this principle enhances the overall clarity and coherence of sentences in English.

Rules of Subject-Verb Agreement with Examples

Subject-verb agreement is a fundamental grammatical rule that ensures harmony in sentences. Here are some key rules with examples to help you understand and apply subject-verb agreement:

Rule 1:
Singular Subjects and Singular Verbs
In sentences with singular subjects, the verb should also be in its singular form.

Examples:

  • The dog barks loudly at strangers.
  • My sister always takes the bus to work.
  • The sunflower in the garden blooms beautifully.
  • One of the students is giving a presentation today.
  • A delicious aroma fills the kitchen.

Rule 2:
Plural Subjects and Plural Verbs
When dealing with plural subjects, the verb should match and be in its plural form.

Examples:

  • Birds sing in the morning.
  • Cars move quickly on the highway.
  • Friends gather for a weekend barbecue.
  • Many people prefer watching movies at home.
  • The books on the shelf are organized by genre.

Rule 3:
Words Between Subject and Verb
When words like “and,” “or,” or “nor” are between the subject and verb, the verb should agree with the subject closest to it.

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.
  • My brother and sister play music together.
  • The teacher or the students are responsible for cleaning.

Rule 4:
Indefinite Pronouns
Indefinite pronouns, like “everyone” or “nobody,” are treated as singular, and the verb should match accordingly.

Examples:

  • Everyone enjoys a good story.
  • Somebody has left their umbrella here.
  • Neither of the options is suitable.
  • Everything on the menu looks delicious.
  • Somebody in the room knows the answer.

Rule 5:
Collective Nouns
Collective nouns, such as “team” or “family,” can be singular or plural based on context.

Examples:

  • The team celebrates its victory with a parade.
  • The family goes on vacations every summer.
  • The committee has made a decision.
  • The jury deliberates for hours.
  • The audience claps in appreciation.

Rule 6:
Each and Every
Words like “each” and “every” are singular, so the verb that follows should also be singular.

Examples:

  • Each student receives a certificate.
  • Every morning brings new opportunities.
  • Each of the employees is responsible for their tasks.
  • Every contestant must complete the challenge.
  • Each book on the shelf belongs to the library.

Rule 7:
Titles of Books, Movies, and Works of Art
Titles of books, movies, and works of art are treated as singular, and the verb should be singular.

Examples:

  • “The Lord of the Rings” is a classic fantasy novel.
  • “Gone with the Wind” takes place during the American Civil War.
  • “Mona Lisa” hangs in the Louvre Museum.
  • “Titanic” was a blockbuster film.
  • “Hamlet” explores themes of tragedy and revenge.

Rule 8:
Fractions and Percentages
When the subject includes a fraction or percentage, the verb agrees with the noun following “of.”

Examples:

  • Three-fourths of the pizza has been eaten.
  • Fifty percent of the population supports the new law.
  • A quarter of the team is on vacation.
  • Half of the cake has disappeared.
  • Ten percent of the budget is allocated for marketing.

Rule 9:
Intervening Phrases
Intervening phrases, such as prepositional phrases, do not affect the subject-verb agreement. The verb agrees with the subject.

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.
  • The collection of rare coins is on display at the museum.
  • The team, in addition to their coach, trains hard every day.

Rule 10:
Words that Indicate Amounts
Words that indicate amounts, such as “a lot,” “a great deal,” or “a ton,” are considered singular and take a singular verb.

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.
  • A large portion of the cake has been eaten.
  • A number of students is attending the workshop.

Rule 11:
Expressions of Time, Money, and Distance
When expressions of time, money, or distance are the subjects of a sentence, the verb should agree with the quantity expressed.

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.
  • Three hours was spent on the assignment.
  • Twenty percent is the recommended down payment.

Rule 12:
Subjects Connected by ‘and’
When two singular subjects are connected by ‘and,’ the verb is plural.

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.
  • My sister and I are planning a surprise.
  • Music and art are creative outlets.

Rule 13:
Singular Indefinite Pronouns
Some indefinite pronouns are singular and require a singular verb.

Examples:

  • Everybody wants to be happy.
  • Somebody is at the door.
  • Each of the students has a different perspective.
  • Nobody likes to wait in long lines.
  • Everything in the store is on sale.

Rule 14:
Plural Indefinite Pronouns
Other indefinite pronouns are plural and require a plural verb.

Examples:

  • Many have tried, but few have succeeded.
  • Both are equally important.
  • Several were absent from the meeting.
  • Few understand the complexity of the issue.
  • Both of them are talented musicians.

Rule 15:
Singular and Plural Nouns Joined by ‘or’ or ‘nor’
When singular and plural nouns are connected by ‘or’ or ‘nor,’ the verb agrees with the noun closest to it.

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.
  • Either the dogs or the cat is responsible for the mess.
  • Neither the book nor the pens belong to me.

Rule 16:
‘There’ as the Subject
When ‘there’ is used as a subject, the verb agrees with the true subject that follows the verb.

Examples:

  • There is a problem with the computer.
  • There are several solutions to the issue.
  • There was a loud noise in the hallway.
  • There were many people at the event.
  • There is a new movie playing at the cinema.

Rule 17:
Titles of Creative Works (Plays, Movies, Novels)
Titles of creative works that are singular take a singular verb, while titles that are plural take a plural verb.

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.
  • “Les Misérables” was adapted into a successful musical.
  • “The Sound of Music” brings back memories for many.

Rule 18:
Special Nouns (e.g., News, Politics, Athletics)
Certain nouns, such as news, politics, athletics, are typically treated as singular, and the verb agrees accordingly.

Examples:

  • Politics is a complex field of study.
  • The news about the accident was shocking.
  • Athletics has always been his passion.
  • Mathematics requires logical thinking.
  • Physics is a challenging subject.

Rule 19:
Uncountable Nouns
Uncountable nouns, which represent things that cannot be easily counted, usually take a singular verb.

Examples:

  • The equipment in the laboratory needs calibration.
  • Happiness is a choice.
  • This information is accurate.
  • Furniture in the living room was rearranged.
  • Knowledge of different cultures enhances global understanding.

Rule 20:
Indirect Questions
When expressing an idea or reporting an indirect question, the verb agrees with the subject of the original question.

Examples:

  • She asked where the keys were.
  • I wonder what the final exam questions are.
  • He inquired about what time the meeting starts.
  • She asked him how many books he had.
  • I’m curious about what the weather forecast says.

Subject verb Agreement quiz

  • The group of friends (was/were) planning a surprise party for Mary.
  • Many of the students (has/have) already submitted their assignments.
  • Either the computer or the printer (needs/need) to be replaced.
  • The collection of rare stamps (was/were) displayed at the exhibition.
  • Ten percent of the population (is/are) vegetarian.
  • The sound of the waves (calm/calms) my mind.
  • My favorite book, along with a few others, (is/are) missing from the shelf.
  • The quality of the products (has/have) improved over the years.
  • Each of the paintings in the gallery (tell/tells) a unique story.
  • The cost of the tickets (has/have) increased this year.

Answers:

  • The group of friends (was) planning a surprise party for Mary.
  • Many of the students (have) already submitted their assignments.
  • Either the computer or the printer (needs) to be replaced.
  • The collection of rare stamps (was) displayed at the exhibition.
  • Ten percent of the population (is) vegetarian.
  • The sound of the waves (calms) my mind.
  • My favorite book, along with a few others, (is) missing from the shelf.
  • The quality of the products (has) improved over the years.
  • Each of the paintings in the gallery (tells) a unique story.
  • The cost of the tickets (has) increased this year.
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