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Subject-Verb Agreement

Subject-verb agreement is essential to making sure that your writing makes sense. So, let’s look at some examples up here on the board so that you can better understand how to make your subject and your verb agree.

See, the main problem that happens when subjects and verbs don’t agree is that there’s a certain number in the subject, but the verb doesn’t agree with that number in the subject.

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Question 1 of 2

Mini-test: Subject Verb Agreement 

1. Choose the sentence that has an error in subject-verb agreement.
A.
B.
C.
D.

Question 1 of 2

Question 2 of 2

2. Choose the sentence that has an error in subject-verb agreement.
A.
B.
C.
D.

Question 2 of 2


 

Next Lesson: Verb Tenses

The transcript is provided for your convenience.
See what I mean here: “The flies are everywhere.”
See, “flies” is plural, and “are” is a plural verb as well. So, that’s why the subject and verb here are going together. So, that’s a great example of a good subject-verb agreement.

Now, this sentence is talking about one fly. It says:

The fly is over here.”

So, since “fly” is singular, the verb needs to be singular. “Is” is a singular verb, so that’s why it’s used here. Say if we said:

The fly are over here.”

That wouldn’t make sense. That’s why we say it:

The fly is over here.”

This next sentence says:

Everything is in place.”

Words like “everything” or “anyone” are words that aren’t very specific. So, for the cases of subject-verb agreement, we consider words that aren’t specific as being singular. So, even though “everything” refers to many things, we still treat it as singular, so we use the singular verb, “is“.

This next sentence says:

People are here.”

So, “people” is plural. It’s talking more than one person, so the verb needs to plural as well. That’s why we used the verb “are“.

There are some sentences where you’re going to have two subjects, and one subject may be plural, and one subject may be singular. So, the question arises: do I use a singular or plural verb? Well, the answer to that question is, choose the verb, or choose the word that is closest to the verb.

So, here we say:

My grandfather or my parents are going to buy a bike for me.”

So, we would say “are“, because “my parents” is closest to “are“, and “parents” is plural, so we use the plural verb, “are“.

See, “My grandfather” is also a subject in this sentence. “Grandfather” and “parents” are both subjects. But, “grandfather” is singular, so it doesn’t necessarily agree with this plural verb.

However, we have to choose either a singular verb or a plural verb, so it makes the most sense to base the verb off of the subject closest to it. So, this sentence is the same sentence up here, just reversed.

“My parents or my grandfather is going to buy a bike for me.” So, here, we use the singular form of this verb, “is“,  because “grandfather” is closest to the verb, and “grandfather” is singular. “Parents“, again, is still plural, but it’s farther away from the verb than “grandfather” is. So, the important thing is to make sure your subject and verb agree in the number that you’re referring to, and it’ll help you make your writing easier to understand on the reader’s part.

Next Lesson: Verb Tenses

subject-verb-agreement