When speaking or writing in English it is vital that you follow the rules of subject verb agreement. In simple terms, this is making sure that the subject agrees with the verb for example ‘You are’ and not ‘you am.’
By using the correct subject verb agreement, you will be able to make much more understandable and grammatically correct sentences which will make your English sound more fluent. In this section, we will be paying closer attention to the idea of subject verb agreement and how you can ensure you follow the rules.
Subject Verb Agreement Rules & Examples
What Is Subject Verb Agreement?
Useful Subject Verb Agreement Rules with example sentences, video and ESL printable worksheet for English learners and ESL teachers.
In English, subject verb agreement is a grammatical rule, which states that the subject and the verb must agree in a sentence.
Learn 10 useful rules for subject verb agreement in English.
Subject-Verb Agreement RULE #1
The subject and verb must agree in number. A singular subject takes a singular verb, whereas a plural subject takes a plural verb.
Subject verb agreement examples:
- A good medicine tastes bitter.
- He goes to work by bus.
- They visit us every other week.
Subject-Verb Agreement RULE #2
The subject is separated from the verb by “with”, “as well as”, “together with”, “along with”. These words and phrases are not part of the subject. The verb agrees with the subject.
- The politician, along with the newsmen, is expected shortly.
Subject-Verb Agreement RULE #3
Two subjects joined by “and” are plural.
- Mary and Joan are quite different.
- Bacon and eggs is my favourite dish.
In this sentence, bacon and eggs is a compound noun.
Subject-Verb Agreement RULE #4
Two subjects joined by “or/not”, “either…or/neither…nor”, “not only…but also” take the verb that agrees with the subject closest to it.
Subject verb agreement examples:
- Neither my mother nor my father goes to university.
- Either my father or my brothers are coming.
- Not only you but also I am planning to go.
Subject-Verb Agreement RULE #5
With collective nouns, the verb might be singular or plural (UK), depending on meaning.
Subject-verb agreement examples:
- The audience was clearly enchanted by her performance.
- The audience are strangely subdued, clapping politely after each song.
Subject-Verb Agreement RULE #6
In sentences beginning with “here” or “there“, the true subject follows the verb.
- There is a bush near the school playground.
- Here are the keys.
Subject-Verb Agreement RULE #7
The verb is singular if the subject is a singular indefinite pronoun such as each, either, neither, one, no one, every one, someone, anyone, nobody, somebody, anybody, everybody, one, no.
- Nobody gets rich from writing nowadays.
- Either of the plans is equally dangerous.
The verb is plural if the subject is a plural indefinite pronoun such as several, few, both, many.
- Several villages have been isolated by the heavy snowfall.
And, some indefinite pronouns (some, any, all, most) may be either singular or plural, depending upon their use in a sentence: with uncountable, use singular; with countable, use plural.
- Some of the books are out of place. Please put them in the right order. (Books are countable.)
- Some of the music was weird. (Music is uncountable.)
Subject Verb Agreement RULE #8
Use a singular verb for expressions of measurement, time. money and weight when the amount is considered one unit.
- Fifty dollars seems a reasonable price.
- Three miles is too far to walk.
- Five dollars were scattered on the ground.
Subject Verb Agreement RULE #9
Plural form subjects with a singular meaning take a singular verb (such as mumps, home economics, social studies economics, measles, calisthenics, statistics, civics, physics, gymnastics, phonics, news, acrobatics, aesthetics, thesis, mathematics, …).
- Gymnastics is his favourite sport.
- Mathematics is the science of pure quantity.
Subject Verb Agreement RULE #10
Titles of single entities (books, organizations, countries, etc.) are always singular.
- Harry Potter is an interesting novel.