subject verb agreement n.
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Subject verb agreement. Although you are probably already familiar with basic subject-verb agreement, this lesson begins with a quick review of basic agreement rules.

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Although you are probably already familiar with basic subject-verb agreement, this lesson begins with a quick review of basic agreement rules.


In the present tense, nouns and verbs form plurals in opposite ways: nouns ADD an s to the singular form; verbs REMOVE the s from the singular form.

  • Examples:
  • Singular: The dogchases the cat.
  • Plural: The dogschase the cat.

These agreement rules do not apply to verbs used in the simple past tense without any helping verbs.

  • Examples:

The girltalked to me.


The girls talked to me.



  The agreement rules do, however, apply to the following helping verbs when they are used with a main verb: is-are, was-were, has-have, does-do.

  • example:
  • The girlhas talked to me.
  • Singular
  • The girlshave talked to me.
  • Plural
  • The girlhas been talking to me.
  • The girlshave been talking to me.

The agreement rules do not apply to has-have when used as the SECOND helping verb in a pair.

  • Example
  • Second helping verb in pair:
  • The girl could have talked to me.
  • The girls could have talked to me.

They do NOT apply to any other helping verbs, such as can, could, shall, should, may, might, will, would, must.

  • Example
  • The girl could talk to me.
  • The girls could talk to me.

The subject-verb agreement rules apply to all personal pronouns except I and you, which, although SINGULAR, require PLURAL forms of verbs.

  • Example
  • He talks to the girl. (sing. sing.)
  • I talk to the girl.(sing. pl)
  • We talk to the girl.(pl. pl)
  • John, you talk to the girl. (sing. pl)

1. At Yellowstone Park grizzly bears (doesn’t, don’t) have names; they have numbers.

  • 2.In the meeting between human and bear, a wild-card factor (throws, throw) all calculations and studies to the wind.
  • 3.The Yellowstone authorities should (has, have) kept thorough records on each bear.
  • 4.Behind an experimental fenced yard protecting campers in Glacier National Park, six visitors has been fatally mauled by grizzlies in the past 19 years.

5. Meandering downriver toward a deer, three grizzly cubs comes within 15 yards of it.

6.Female grizzlies mates every third year in summer, without their fertilized eggs implanting in the womb until fall.

7.To a grizzly almost anything are food except rocks.

8. Lingering snow patches often become playgrounds for grizzlies observed making snowballs.


Compound Subject

  •   The word “compound” means “made up of two or more parts.” Two or more words can be compounded or linked by joining them with any of three word
  • and, or, and nor
  • apples and oranges
  • dog, cat, or bird

Compound nouns can function as a “compound subject.” In some instances, a compound subject poses special problems for the subject-verb agreement rule (+s, -s).

  • Example
  • The ranger sees the bear.
  • The camper sees the bear.
  • This two sentences can become
compound subject
Compound subject
  • The ranger andthe camper see the bear.
  • SUBJECT-VERB RULE #1 – Two or more singular (or plural) subjects joined by and act as a plural compound subject and take a plural verb (singular + singular = plural).
  • You can check the verb by substituting the pronoun they for the compound subject.
  • They see the bear.

Or and nor as joiners word somewhat differently from and. While the word and seems to ADD things together, or and nordo not. They suggest a CHOICE.

  • Look at this sentence:
  • The ranger or the camper sees the bear.
  • This sentence makes use of a compound subject (two subject nouns joined together by or). Each part of the compound subject (ranger, camper) is singular. Even though both words function together as subject (joined by or), the subject still remains SINGULAR (ranger or camper) since a CHOICE is implied.
  • This compound subject, therefore, requires a singular verb to agree with it.

 What if one part of the compound subject is singular and the other part is plural?

  • If the individual parts of the compound subject are joined by and, always use a plural verb.
  • Example
  • The rangers and the camper see the bear.
  • The camper and the rangers see the bear.
  •   If the individual parts of the compound subject are joined by orornor, use the verb form (singular or plural) which will agree with the subject closer to the verb.
  • The ranger or the campers see the bear.
  • The campers or the ranger sees the bear.
  • Practice
  • Neither threats nor hostile action (scares, scare) the enemy.
  • The actors and the director (understands, understand) the lighting problems.
  • The surfer or the swimmers (is, are) responsible for the littered beach.

4. A good diet and a realistic exercise plan (combines, combine) to help one lose weight.

5. A sweet potato and some carrots provides Vitamin A, important for healthy eyes.

6. Neither bleach nor dyes really helps unhealthy hair look better.

7. Ripe tomatoes, leafy Brussels sprouts, and a handy orange is rich in Vitamin C.

8. Unfortunately for the sedentary, neither diet nor vitamins alone provide sufficient fuel for good health.