All the Rules in Subject Verb Agreement

Subject-verb agreement is an essential aspect of English grammar and writing. It refers to the consistency of the verb with the subject in terms of their number, person, and tense. In other words, it dictates that a singular subject should take a singular verb and a plural subject should take a plural verb. The following are some of the rules that govern subject-verb agreement.

1. Singular Subjects Take Singular Verbs

When the subject of a sentence is singular, the verb must also be singular. For example:

– The cat chases the mouse.

– The flower smells nice.

– The girl sings beautifully.

2. Plural Subjects Take Plural Verbs

When the subject of a sentence is plural, the verb must also be plural. For example:

– The cats chase the mice.

– The flowers smell nice.

– The girls sing beautifully.

3. Compound Subjects Take a Plural Verb

When a sentence has a compound subject joined by “and,” the verb must be plural. For example:

– John and Sarah are going to the movies.

– The cat and the dog are playing in the yard.

– The book and the pen are on the desk.

4. Indefinite Pronouns Take Singular or Plural Verbs

Indefinite pronouns such as someone, anyone, everyone, nobody, and somebody can be singular or plural, depending on the context of the sentence. For example:

– Anyone can learn to play the guitar. (singular)

– Someone is knocking on the door. (singular)

– Everybody knows that cats and dogs are different animals. (plural)

– Nobody wants to be late for the meeting. (singular)

– Some of the students have not submitted their assignments. (plural)

5. Collective Nouns Can Take Singular or Plural Verbs

Collective nouns such as team, family, group, and committee can be singular or plural, depending on how they are used in the sentence. For example:

– The team is playing well this season. (singular)

– The family is going on vacation next week. (singular)

– The committee is discussing the proposal. (singular)

– The group of tourists are taking pictures. (plural)

6. Inverted Sentences Follow Normal Subject-Verb Agreement Rules

In inverted sentences where the subject comes after the verb, the verb must still agree with the subject in terms of number and person. For example:

– Up the hill ran the dog. (singular)

– Under the table were the toys. (plural)

7. The Verb “To Be” Can Be Tricky

The verb “to be” can be tricky because it is often used in a variety of tenses and forms. In general, it follows the same subject-verb agreement rules as other verbs. For example:

– I am happy. (singular)

– They are happy. (plural)

– He was happy. (singular past tense)

– We were happy. (plural past tense)

In conclusion, subject-verb agreement is crucial for effective communication in writing. By following these rules, writers can ensure that their sentences are grammatically correct and coherent. A good way to check your subject-verb agreement is to read your sentences out loud to see if they sound right and make sense.