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Subject-Verb Agreement

Phonetics:

sʌbdʒɪkt' vɜːb

əˈɡriːmənt

Pronunciation:

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Unveiling the Language Symphony: Understanding Subject-Verb Agreement

Comprehensive Definition, Description, Examples & Rules 

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Introduction

Subject verb agreement is a rule of English grammar where the subject and the verb of the sentence should be in a similar person, number, and also in a similar gender. It is a rule in which you use a singular subject always with a singular verb and a plural subject with a plural verb. It is the most crucial rule of English grammar that will help you form any sentence.

Importance

The subject-verb agreement has got great importance in English grammar. It includes:

  • It helps in making effective communication and makes the conversation clear and smooth.
  • You must use the subject verb agreement properly to form sentences with a good structure.
  • You can enhance the proper meaning of your sentence by using the subject-verb agreement in it. 

Definition of Subject-Verb Agreement

You can define a subject verb agreement as a primary rule of English grammar where the subject of the sentence and the verb should be in a similar person, number, and gender. You cannot mix the singular and plural forms. 

Role

The subject-verb agreement has a significant role to play in the English language. It is:

  •  It helps you enhance your sentence’s meaning and maintain a proper structure.
  • The subject verb agreement helps in effective communication and improves the clarity of conversation.
  • You will make fewer mistakes if you use the subject-verb agreement properly in your sentence. 

The subject and verb of the sentence must always agree in number and in person to make the sentence correct and maintain the structure of the sentence.

Subject-Verb Agreement Rules

There are specific that you need to follow while writing and using them in your sentences. These are:

  • The singular subjects will always have singular verbs.
  • The plural subjects shall have plural verbs.
  • The compound subjects such as ‘and’ should only use plural verbs.
  • The compound subjects with the words ‘or’ and ‘nor’ can use both the plural or singular verb according to requirements.
  • The collective nouns can be both plural and singular.
  • The indefinite pronouns will have both singular and plural verbs.

You will check the subject’s form for different types of verb forms. If it is in a singular form, you will use the singular form of the verb; if it is in a plural form, you will use the plural form of the verb.

Singular Subjects and Verbs

The basic rule for subject-verb agreement with singular subjects is to use the singular form of the verb. If the singular subject is compounded, you can use the plural verb in the sentence. 

Examples are:

  • The man eats cake every day. (‘Man’ is the subject and is in singular form. ‘Eats’ is the verb and is in singular form.)
  • Jack plays cricket. (‘Jack’ is the subject and is in singular form. ‘Plays’ is the verb and is in singular form.)

You can understand from the example that if there is a singular subject, you must use a singular verb for the sentence. 

Plural Subjects and Verbs

For the plural subjects, you must use a plural verb always according to the subject verb agreement rule. You can define a plural subject of a sentence only by using a plural verb. 

Examples are:

  • The children are very happy. (‘Children’ are the subject and are in plural form. ‘Are’ is the plural verb form.)
  • The books belong to the Library. (‘Books’ are the subject and are in plural form. ‘Belong’ is the verb and is in plural form.)

So you can understand that for the plural form of the subject, you have to use a plural word only.

Irregular Verbs and Subject-Verb Agreement

According to the rules of the subject-verb agreement, the irregular verb forms do not have any predictable patterns for a singular or plural form. The common irregular form of the verb includes: to do, have, to be. 

Examples are:

  • I have the doctor’s number. ( ‘I’ is the subject and is in singular form. ‘Have’ is the verb used as a singular form.)
  • They have tickets for the show. ( ‘They’ is the subject and is in plural form. ‘Have’ is the verb used as a plural form.)

Irregular verbs act as both the singular and plural forms of the verb and change according to the subject.

Agreement With Compound Subjects

The basic rule for the compound subject says that it will have a plural verb. Even if some of the nouns of the subject are singular, it is necessary to use the plural form of the verb. A compound subject is where there is more than one subject, so using a plural form of the verb is necessary.

Examples are:

  • Kwan and Ruby visit the clinic very often. (‘K wan and Ruby’ is the compound subject. ‘Visit’ is the verb in its plural form.)
  • Sachin and Arjun are excellent friends. (‘Sachin and Arjun ‘ is the compound subject. ‘Are’ is the plural verb form.)

You can understand from these examples that the compound subject will always use the plural form of the verb.

Agreement With Indefinite Pronouns

For the indefinite pronoun, it depends upon the subject. If it is a singular form, it will take a singular verb. While if it is in the plural form, it will have a plural verb.

For example:

  • Nobody likes to read books. (‘Nobody’ is the indefinite pronoun. ‘Likes’ is the verb in its singular form.)
  • Both are eating together. (‘Both’ is the indefinite pronoun. ‘Are’ is the plural verb form.)

As you can understand, you have to use the appropriate verb form for the indefinite pronouns. Most of these are in singular form only. 

Tricky Cases and Common Mistakes

The common mistakes with the subject verb agreement are:

  • Using a singular form of the subject with a plural verb.
  • Using a plural subject with a singular form of the verb.
  • Treating the indefinite pronouns as the wrong subject.

Cases where you can be wrong are:

  • Collective Nouns: It can be difficult to deal with the collective nouns for the subject-verb agreement. These usually take a singular verb, but sometimes they can also have a plural subject.
  • Intervening phrases: The intervening phrases affect the subject verb agreement. You are to generally use a singular subject for these phrases to make it correct.
  • Inverted word order: Understanding the subject-verb agreement for these might be challenging. There are no rules for these; you need to use the appropriate verb form according to its subject.

Examples of Subject-Verb Agreement

The subject verb agreement examples include:

  • The dog runs very fast. (Singular)
  • They study every evening. (Plural)
  • They have gone to the park. (Irregular verb)
  • Somebody was calling you. (Indefinite pronoun)
  • You and I are to form a pair. (Compound subject)

You must understand the agreement between the subject and then use the correct verb form appropriately.

list of adverbs for kids

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Key Takeaways

  1. The subject verb agreement plays a very effective role in the structure of the sentence.

  2. It has to make the communication very clear and have an effective conversation.

  3. Missing the subject-verb agreement will ultimately make the sentence incorrect.

  4. You need to use a plural subject with a plural verb and a singular subject with a singular verb as a primary rule of the agreement.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How does subject-verb agreement work with irregular verbs?

For irregular verbs, the subject-verb agreement does not have a proper pattern and can be in singular and plural forms. It depends upon the form of the subject. The irregular verbs are: have, to do, to be, and more.

Are there exceptions to the subject-verb agreement rules?

The only exception to the subject verb agreement rule is that all pronouns except ‘you’ and ‘I’ agree to the rule. If both these pronouns appear in a similar sentence, it will follow the regular subject-verb agreement rule.

Can the proximity of other words affect the subject-verb agreement?

Yes, the proximity of other words can affect the subject verb agreement. If a compound subject contains both a plural and a singular noun or a pronoun that is joined through another word, then the verb will follow the form of the nearest subject.

What are some common mistakes to avoid in subject-verb agreement?

You need to avoid specific mistakes while using the subject-verb agreement. These are:

  • Using plural verbs with singular subjects.
  • Using singular verbs with plural subjects.
  • Treating the indefinite pronouns with the wrong verb.
How does a subject-verb agreement apply to compound subjects?

The subject verb agreement for the compound subject will always be used in the plural form of the word, whether or not some or all the subjects are in the singular form. As you combine various subjects, you must use plural verbs. In this case 

Are there any tips or strategies for improving subject-verb agreement skills?

The tips that you can follow:

  • Always use a singular verb for a singular subject.
  • Use of plural verbs for a plural subject.
  • Read the sentence properly to understand if it needs to be more comfortable.

 

  •  Understand the context in which you want to frame the sentence.
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