Subject-verb agreement definition: Subject-verb agreement includes matching the subject with the correct form of a verb.
What is Subject-verb Agreement?
Subject-verb agreement means that the subject and the verb must agree in case and in number.
When a writer uses a singular noun, he must use a verb that is conjugated to match singular nouns.
When a writer uses a plural noun, he must use a verb that is conjugated to match plural nouns.
Subject-verb Agreement Examples
Here are a few properly construction subjects and verbs along with a few incorrect formulations.
- I walk. (singular)
- You walk. (singular and plural)
- He/She/It walks. (singular)
- We walk. (plural)
- They walk. (plural)
- I walks.
- She walk.
- They walks.
Subject-Verb Agreement in Different Constructions
For simple sentences, subject-verb agreement isn’t difficult to figure out.
- John is leaving.
- They are leaving.
These sentences are incredibly simple, which means it’s also incredibly simple to determine the correct subject and verb case.
Subject and verb agreement can be tricky, however, when the construction of the subject changes.
Let’s take a look at some of those tricky constructions.
With More Than One Subject Connected by “And”
When there is more than one subject, the verb agreement must be plural. Even if each subject itself is singular, more than one subject calls for a plural verb.
- Drake and Drew ARE playing soccer.
- Drake, Drew, and Danny ARE playing soccer.
- Cats and dogs DO NOT play together well.
- My friends and I ARE playing soccer.
With More Than One Singular Subject Connected by “Or”
When there is more than one singular noun as the subject and the nouns in the subject are connected with “or,” a singular verb must be used.
- Drake or Drew IS playing soccer.
- A cat or dog IS making noise outside.
Agreement with Contractions
Contractions must also use correct subject and verb agreement. The best way to determine what conjugation should be used with a contraction is to separate the terms.
Examples with “don’t:”
- I do not = I don’t (singular)
- You do not = You don’t (singular and plural)
- He/She/It does not = He/She/It doesn’t (singular)
- We do not = We don’t (plural)
- They do not = They don’t (plural)
When Phrases Come Between the Subject and Verb
When a phrase interrupts the subject and the verb, the verb must agree with the subject regardless of the phrase.
- The man who plays soccer IS handsome.
- The men who play soccer ARE handsome.
- That toy, which I found in the oven, IS ruined.
Non-count nouns cannot be made plural. As a result, all non-count nouns take on singular verbs.
- Mathematics IS a difficult course for me.
- My luggage IS packed and ready to go.
- This environment IS congested.
- Civics IS not my favorite course.
Sentences With There Are, There is, Here Are, Here is.
When a writer begins sentences with “there” or “here,” the verb agreement must match the words that follow. If a singular noun follows, use a singular verb. If a plural noun follows, use a plural verb.
- There IS a ghost in our attic.
- There ARE ghosts in our attic.
- Here IS the ghost.
- Here ARE the ghosts.
Tricky Words to Determine Agreement
Some writers may find that matching indefinite pronouns with the appropriate subject and verb can be difficult.
Some tricky indefinite pronouns that are always singular include:
- each one
- Each one IS identified.
- Someone IS asking.
- Everyone IS talking at once.
Some tricky indefinite pronouns that are always plural include:
- All ARE identified.
- Some ARE talking.
- All ARE asking.
When collective nouns are singular, use singular verbs. When collective nouns are plural, use plural verbs.
- The group MAKES a decision.
- The people MAKE a decision.
Summary: Subject-verb Agreement Rules
Define subject-verb agreement: the definition of subject-verb agreement is the requirement that a subject and verb of a clause must match in person and in number.
In summary, subjects and verbs should always have the appropriate agreement, whether singular or plural.
While some can be tricky, it is unacceptable to match a singular subject with a plural verb and vice versa.