Learning Subject Verb Agreement: Examples & Usage

When learning English, of course you learn what is object, subject, verb, and so on. Of course, in learning English, many of us still have difficulty or are confused about changing verbs, especially if the sentences used are long. Verbs that change in English are certainly familiar to English learners. Verbs change because the subject of the sentence changes and the number of subjects in the sentence changes. This is what is known as the subject verb agreement , a verb that changes because the subject is singular or plural. See the full description below to further understand the subject verb agreement .

Definition of the subject verb  

Subject verb agreement is the adjustment of verb (verb) and subject (subject) of a sentence, whether it is singular or plural subject. Subjects can be nouns, pronouns, etc.

The basic theory is that the singular verb will be used together with the singular subject . Consider the following examples:

 

1. My cat always climbs the tree – singular subject and singular verb

(My cat always climbs trees)

 

2. These clothes are too big for me – plural subject and plural verb

(These clothes are too big for me)

 

3. She doesn’t like fruits – singular subject and singular verb

(He doesn’t like fruits)

 

Generally, singular verbs in the simple present tense will be in the basic form with an affix added at the end of -s or -es. However, in plural verbs , the affix -s or -es is not added, but only uses the basic form or the dictionary. This rule also applies to third-person subjects such as people’s names, or they (they), we (us), he she (he) and it (it). This does not apply to subjects I (me) and you (you).

However, the subject of a single sentence is not added with the suffix -s or -es in the subject I (I) and yu (you) and follows the rules of plural verbs. Unlike the past tense, the form of a singular or plural verb in a sentence is all in the form of a verb two.

Actually there are more points that can make you confused when faced with a subject verb agreement . For example, the subject used is a collective noun , plural form and indefinite pronoun . Collective nou n is a noun that is used when we want to express the name of a group or something that is more than one person.

This noun can be singular or plural, of course this depends on the context of the sentence. Find various examples of verbs and their meanings in the Complete English-Indonesian-Indonesian Dictionary Accompanied by Tenses-Regular Verbs, Irregular Verbs below.

Consider the following examples:

1. The Basketball team is going on vacation now 

(the members of the basketball team are on vacation together now)

 

2. The Basketball team are going on vacation now 

(the members of the basketball team are on their respective holidays now)

 

From the example above, it can be seen that when members of a group act individually, the subject is plural with a plural verb as well, as can be seen in the second example. Meanwhile, when members of the basketball team do the same thing simultaneously, the noun above is a subject with a singular verb.

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The rules on the subject verb agreement

The subject and verb must be related in the plural or singular. Here are some of the rules used in the subject verb agreement.

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A. If the subject used is singular

If the subject used is singular, then the verb used must also be singular. But there are exceptions, if using the subject they (they), then use a plural verb. To better understand the explanation regarding subject verbs, Sinaumed’s must have an English foundation first which can be learned through the book 30 Minutes of Good English for Class 2 SD/MI.

Example:

1. He writes a letter every week. 

In this sentence, ‘he’ acts as the subject and ‘writes’ acts as the verb.

 

2. They are currently in a social media role at the organization 

(they are currently in a social media role at the organization)

In this sentence, ‘they’ acts as a subject and ‘are’ acts as a verb.

 

If the subject is used in the plural

If the subject is used in the plural, then the verb used is also in the plural.

Example:

1. They write a letter every week. 

(They write letters every week)

In this sentence, ‘they’ acts as a subject and ‘write’ acts as a verb.

 

2. The students eat their lunch at the cafeteria. 

(students eat their lunch in the cafeteria)

In this sentence, ‘the students’ acts as a subject and ‘eat’ acts as a verb.

Keep in mind again, in plural verbs (plural verbs) the verb does not add the affix -s or -es, but only uses the basic form or the dictionary. Therefore, in the example above, even though the subject is plural, the verb ‘write’ does not add -s after it.

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C. If the subject of the sentence contains two or more nouns or pronouns

If the subject of the sentence contains two or more nouns or pronouns connected by ‘and’, then use a plural verb.

Example:

1. The medical student and the economic student write a journal every year.

(students majoring in medicine and students majoring in economics write journals every year)

The subject in this sentence is ‘the medical student’ and ‘the economic student’.

 

2. Michael and his dog run on the street every morning. 

(Michael and his dog run down the street every morning)

The subject of this sentence is ‘Michael’ and ‘his dog’.

 

D. When there is only one subject and there is more than one verb

When there is only one subject and there is more than one verb, the verb must follow the context of the sentence related to the subject.

Example:

1. Interviews are one way to collect data and allow the interviewer to gain a deeper understanding of the participants. 

(Interview is one way to collect data and allows the interviewer to gain a deeper understanding of the participant)

The verbs in this sentence are ‘are’ and ‘allow’.

 

2. Jennie walk through the art gallery and admire the beauty of the painting 

(Jennie walks through the art gallery and admires the beauty of the paintings)

The verbs in this sentence are ‘walk’ and ‘admire’.

E. When a phrase is between a subject and a verb

When a phrase is between a subject and a verb, the verb must still match the subject, not the noun or pronoun in the phrase that follows the subject in the sentence.

Example:

1. The student, as well as student council members are excited. 

(students, including the student council members, are very excited)

In this sentence, ‘student’ acts as a subject and ‘is’ acts as a verb.

 

2. The focus of the discussion was nine participants who were selected purposively.

(The focus of the discussion this time is nine participants who were selected purposively)

In this sentence, ‘the focus’ acts as the subject and ‘was’ acts as the verb.

 

F. If there are two or more nouns or pronouns that are more than one

If there are two or more nouns or pronouns that are more than one and connected with ‘or’ or ‘nor’ then use a singular verb. Find various examples of sentences in the form of conversations in the book Easy English Conversation: Everyone Can Speak English.

Example:

1. The leader or the manager approves my proposal before proceeding to the next step. 

(Leader or manager approve my proposal before following up to the next step)

In this sentence, ‘the leader or the manager’ acts as the subject and ‘approves’ acts as the verb.

 

G.  If there is a compound subject that contains nouns or pronouns both singular and plural

If there is a compound subject that contains both singular and plural nouns or pronouns joined by the word ‘or’ or ‘nor’, then the verb must correspond to the part of the subject closest to the verb. This rule is also known as the ‘rule of proximity’.

Example:

1. The student or student council members read a book every day. 

(Students or student council members read books every day)

In this sentence, ‘the student or student council’ acts as a subject and ‘read’ acts as a verb.

 

2. The student council members or the student reads a book every day. 

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(The osis members or students read books every day)

In this sentence, ‘The student council members or the student’ acts as the subject and ‘reads’ acts as a verb.

 

H. A word or phrase

Words or phrases ‘each’, ‘each one’, ‘everybody’, ‘everyone’, ‘somebody’, ‘someone’ and others include the singular subject and the verb used is also the singular form.

Example:

1. Everybody in this room was willing to be recorded 

(Everyone in this room is willing to be recorded)

In this sentence, ‘everybody’ acts as a subject and ‘was’ acts as a verb.

 

2. Neither alternative proposals were approved. 

(No alternative proposals approved)

In this sentence, ‘neither’ acts as a subject and ‘were’ acts as a verb.

 

3. I will offer a $10 gift card to everybody who participates in the survey.

(I will be offering a $10 gift card to everyone who participates in the survey)

In this sentence, ‘everybody’ acts as a subject and ‘participates’ acts as a verb.

 

4. No one was available to accompany me at the graduation party.

(No one can accompany me to the graduation party)

In this sentence, ‘no one’ acts as a subject and ‘was’ acts as a verb.

 

I. If there are nouns that include non-counts nouns

If there are nouns that include non-counts nouns, you must use a singular verb. Non count nouns or uncountable nouns are nouns that cannot be counted, which are abstract quantities. Of course, none of these nouns have plural forms. Usually, these uncountable nouns appear more frequently in academia. Some examples of non-counts such as: diabetes (diabetes), Arabic (Arabic), English (English), swimming (swimming), dancing (dancing), water (air), ice (ice), fire (fire), work ( work), homework (homework), education (education), research (research), milk (milk), rice (rice), tennis (tennis), soccer (soccer).

 

Example:

1. Education is one of the keys to success.

(education is one of the keys to success)

In this sentence, ‘education’ acts as a subject and ‘is’ acts as a verb.

 

2. Diabetes affects everyone in the world whether they are young or old.

(diabetes affects everyone in the world whether young or old)

In this sentence, ‘diabetes’ acts as the subject and ‘affects’ acts as the verb.

 

3. The information I found in the magazine was important. 

(The information I found in the magazine is important)

In this sentence, ‘the information’ acts as a subject and ‘was’ acts as a verb

 

J. If there are nouns that can be counted or called countable nouns

If there are nouns that can be counted or are called countable nouns , then they are considered as a plural form and of course followed by a plural verb. Countable nouns can be separated into units that can be counted, so some of them have both singular and plural forms.

However, most of the English nouns are countable nouns. For example, one book, two pens, one laptop, two laptops. There are also some countable nouns which only have the plural form. For example, earnings (income), goods (goods), surroundings (environment), contents (content), and valuables (valuable).

Example:

1. Locally produced goods have good quality and good price.

(Locally produced goods are of good quality and good price)

In this sentence, ‘locally produced goods’ acts as a subject and ‘have’ acts as a verb

 

2. The earnings for the third quarter were less than expected.

(Revenue for the third quarter fell short of expectations)

In this sentence, ‘the earnings’ acts as a subject and ‘was’ acts as a verb

 

K. If there is a sentence that begins with the word ‘there is’ or ‘there are’

If a sentence begins with the word ‘there is’ or ‘there are’, then the subject must follow the verb. The thing to remember is that ‘there’ is not a subject, so the verb agrees with what follows the verb.

Example:

1. There are many factors that affect a child’s intelligence. 

(There are many factors that affect a child’s intelligence)

In this sentence, ‘are’ acts as a subject and ‘factors’ acts as a verb

 

2. There is little financial assistance.

(There is a little financial assistance)

In this sentence, ‘is’ acts as a subject and ‘financial assistance’ acts as a verb.

Find other examples of subject verbs in the Phrasal Verb Dictionary: English Phrasal Verb Dictionary, which is a master book as well as a guide that Sinaumed’s can use to better understand various verb variants.

Example of subject verb Agreement

To find out whether you understand enough about the subject verb agreement, you can do the questions below.

1. His shirt __ torn during the movie. 

(His clothes are torn during the film)

 

2. Nami, together with her husband __ the guests of the party.

(Nami, together with her husband greeting` the guests at the party)

 

3. The judge __ not convinced. 

(Judge not sure)

 

4. The lies __ always hard to forget.

(Lies are always hard to forget)

 

5. To complain __ never the solution to any problems.

(Complaining is never the solution to every problem)

 

6. A pack of tigers __ approaching the camp.

(a group of lions approaches the camp)

 

7. Lying __ not always considered a bad thing.

(lying is not always considered a bad thing)

 

The answer to the subject verb agreement

 

1. His shirts (were) torn during the movie. 

(His clothes are torn during the film)

 

2. Nami, together with her husband (greets) the guests of the party.

(Nami, together with her husband greeting` the guests at the party)

 

3. The judge (was) not convinced.

(Judge not sure)

 

4. The lies (are) always hard to forget.

(Lies are always hard to forget)

 

5. To complain (is) never the solution to any problems.

(Complaining is never the solution to every problem)

 

6. A pack of tigers (was) approaching the camp.

(a group of lions approaches the camp)

 

7. Lying (was) not always considered a bad thing.

(lying is not always considered a bad thing)

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