Mastering Subject-Verb Agreement for Clear and Cohesive Communication

Subject Verb Agreement, essential English Grammar, Englishtipz

For those new to English, subject-verb agreement mistakes are common and constitute a notable portion of language errors. This guide will explain the important rules of subject-verb agreement.

Basic Rule:
The verb in a sentence must agree with its subject in number (singular or plural).  That means, if the subject is singular, verb must be singular and vice versa.
Example: "The cat is sleeping." (Singular subject) vs. "The cats are playing." (Plural subject)

When you suffix a verb with -s or -es you make it singular.  A verb without -s or -es is plural.  This is just opposite to what we do to make a noun singular or plural.

For example, 'pen' (noun) is singular while 'pens' is plural, whereas 'play'(verb) is plural while 'plays' is singular.

Compound Subjects:
When two or more subjects are connected by "and," use a plural verb.
Example: "Tom and Jerry are friends." (Plural subjects)

Singular Indefinite Pronouns:
Singular indefinite pronouns (e.g., anyone, everyone, somebody) take singular verbs.
Example: "Everyone wants to succeed." (Singular)

Plural Indefinite Pronouns:
Plural indefinite pronouns (e.g., both, many, several) take plural verbs.
Example: "Many are attending the conference." (Plural)

Collective Nouns:
Treat collective nouns as singular when referring to the group as a whole and as plural when emphasizing individual members.
Example: "The team is winning." (Singular) vs. "The team are wearing their uniforms." (Plural)

Intervening Phrases:
Phrases or clauses between the subject and the verb do not affect their agreement.
Example: "The book, along with its sequels, is captivating." (Singular)

Singular Subjects Joined by "or" or "nor":
When singular subjects are joined by "or" or "nor," use a singular verb.
Example: "Neither the cat nor the dog is allowed on the bed." (Singular subjects)

Plural Subjects Joined by "or" or "nor":
When plural subjects are joined by "or" or "nor," use a plural verb.
Example: "Either the cats or the dogs are causing a commotion." (Plural subjects)

Subjects with "Each" or "Every":
Use a singular verb when the subject is preceded by "each" or "every."
Example: "Every student has a textbook." (Singular)

Subjects with "Either/Or" and "Neither/Nor":
The verb agrees with the subject closest to it when using "either/or" or "neither/nor."
Example: "Neither the teacher nor the students are satisfied." (Plural)

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