Subject and verb agreement
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Subject and Verb Agreement. What is a Subject? What is a Verb?. When you write a sentence, you write about a noun or pronoun (a person, place, thing, or idea) – that’s the subject ! The dog ate the book. Then you write what the subject does or is – that’s the verb !

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Subject and Verb Agreement

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Subject and verb agreement

Subject and Verb Agreement


What is a subject what is a verb

What is a Subject? What is a Verb?

  • When you write a sentence, you write about a noun or pronoun (a person, place, thing, or idea) – that’s the subject!

    • The dog ate the book.

  • Then you write what the subjectdoes or is – that’s the verb!

    • The dogate the book.

Who, me?


How do i find a subject and verb

How do I find a subject and verb?

  • Find the verb first! (It’s easier to find than the subject) Look for the action…

    • The neighborhood bully punched the dweeb.

  • Once you find your verb, ask yourself who or what is doing the action stated by the verb?

    • The neighborhood bullypunched the dweeb.

Who punched?


Find the subjects and verbs

Find the Subjects and verbs:

  • Tomorrow our school celebrates its fiftieth anniversary. Which word shows the action? Who or what does the action?

  • The team members ate several boxes of chocolates.

  • Internet users crowd the popular services.


Tricky little boogers those verbs

Tricky little boogers, those verbs…

  • Often the verb doesn’t show action but merely tells what the subject is or was. Learn to spot such verbs:

    • Is, am, are, was, were, seems, feels, appears, becomes, looks…

    • Marshall is a neon artist. /The bread appears moldy.

  • Sometimes the subject comes after the verb, especially when a word like there or here begins the sentence without being a real subject…

    • In the audience there weretwo reviewers from the Times.

    • There was a fortune-teller at the carnival.

There and here are not subjects! They simply point to something!


You understood didn t you

You understood…Didn’t you?

  • In commands, often the subject is not expressed. An unwritten you is understood by the reader.

    • Sit down. (Yousit down.)

    • Meet me at 7:00. (Youmeet me.)

  • Sometimes, a sentence may have more than one subject.

    • Toys and memorabilia from the 1950s are high-priced collectibles.

  • A sentence may also have more than one verb.

    • Waterboils at a consistent temperature and freezes at another.


Find the subjects and verbs1

Find the Subjects and Verbs!

  • A German company offers a totally new style of sunglasses.

  • The company calls them “Sushi Specs.”

  • These special glasses help busy people with their sushi.

  • The sunglass frames transform into eating utensils.

  • The arms of the glasses unhook and turn into chopsticks.

  • The lenses become spoon-like scoops.

  • There are no screws in the sunglasses.

  • The pieces snap apart and fit back together easily.

  • One model has fork-shaped arms for convenience.

  • Sushi Specs are expensive and are very popular in Japan.


Check your answers

Check Your Answers!

  • A German companyoffers a totally new style of sunglasses.

  • The companycalls them “Sushi Specs.”

  • These special glasseshelp busy people with their sushi.

  • The sunglass framestransform into eating utensils.

  • The arms of the glasses unhook and turn into chopsticks.

  • The lensesbecome spoon-like scoops.

  • There are no screws in the sunglasses.

  • The piecessnap apart and fit back together easily.

  • One modelhas fork-shaped arms for convenience.

  • Sushi Specsare expensive and are very popular in Japan.


Subject verb agreement

Subject-Verb Agreement

  • Subjects and verbs work together in a sentence, so they must always agree. Different subjects need different forms of verbs. When the correct verb follows a subject, we call it subject-verb agreement.

    • Rule one: sverbs follow mostsingular subjects but not plural subjects:

      One turtlewalks.Three turtles walk.

      The babycries.The babies cry.

      One childplays.Many childrenplay.


Be verbs agree helping verbs too

“Be” verbs Agree…helping verbs, too

  • The following sentences show how forms of the verb be (is, am, are, was, were) and helping verbs (be, have, and do) are made to agree with their subjects:

    This puzzleis difficult.These puzzlesare difficult.

    Iam amazed.Youare amazed.

    Hewas sleeping.Theywere sleeping.


Always singular

Always Singular

  • The following words are always singular and take an s verb or the irregular equivalent (is, was, had, does)

    • One

    • Anyone

    • Everyone

    • No one

    • Someone

    • Anybody

    • Everybody

    • Nobody

    • Somebody

    • each

As long as the word ends in “one” or “body” it is singular because one is speaking about and individual “one” or individual “body”.


Always singular1

Always Singular

Someone feeds my dog in the morning.

Everybody was at the party.

Each does her own homework.

Remember: prepositional phrases (begin with prepositions) often come between subjects and verbs. You should ignore these interrupting phrases, or you may mistake the wrong word for the subject and use a verb form that doesn’t agree.

Someonefrom the apartmentfeeds my dog in the morning.

Everybodyon the listof celebritieswasat the party.


Exception to the rule

Exception to the rule…

  • The words some, any, all, none, and most are exceptions to this rule of ignoring prepositional phrases. These words can be singular or plural, depending on the words that follow them in prepositional phrases:

    • Some of the pieis gone.

    • Some of the cookiesare gone.

    • Isany of the paper still in the supply cabinet?

    • Areany of the pencils in the supply cabinet?

    • All of her workhas been published.

    • All of her poemshave been published.

    • None of the jewelryis missing.

    • None of the clothesare missing.


And or

And / Or

  • When a sentence has more than one subject joined by and, the subject is plural…

    • The teacherand the tutorseat lunch at noon.

    • A glazed doughnutand an onion bagelwere sitting on the plate.

  • However, when two subjects are joined by or, then the subject closest to the verb determines the verb form…

    • Either the teacheror the tutorseat lunch at noon.

    • Either the tutorsor the teachereats lunch at noon.

    • A glazed doughnutor an onion bagelwas sitting on the plate.


Subject and verb agreement

Practice…Identify the Subject and correct verb. Underline the Subject, Circle the Verb. Identify the S&V as plural or Singular. P=Plural, S=Singular

  • Human beings (is/are) unpredictable in their reactions at times.

  • A recent study in England asked a thousand people what their top fears (is/are).

  • The number one fear (is/are) the fear of spiders.

  • Next on the list (come/comes) the fear of terrorists.

  • The fear of a snake or reptiles (rank/ranks) third on the list.

  • People’s responses (put/puts) a fear of heights in fourth place.

  • Strangely, the fear of death (is/are) fifth on the list of top worries.

  • Dentists and needles (is/are) the sixth and seventh most common fears, respectively.

  • Speaking in public (is/are) another big fear, coming in eighth overall.

  • And the fears of debt and flying (fill/fills) out the bottom of the list of the top-ten fears.


Check your answers1

Check your answers…

  • Human beings (is/are) unpredictable in their reactions at times. P

  • A recent study in England asked a thousand people what their top fears (is/are). P

  • The number one fear (is/are) the fear of spiders. S

  • Next on the list (come/comes) the fear of terrorists. S

  • The fear of a snake or reptiles (rank/ranks) third on the list. S

  • People’s responses (put/puts) a fear of heights in fourth place. P

  • Strangely, the fear of death (is/are) fifth on the list of top worries. S

  • Dentists and needles (is/are) the sixth and seventh most common fears, respectively. P

  • Speaking in public (is/are) another big fear, coming in eighth overall. S

  • And the fears of debt and flying (fill/fills) out the bottom of the list of the top-ten fears. P


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