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 if the subject is plural, the verb must also be plural.
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.

[Ignore the grammar jargon in the following subtitles if they confuse you.]

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) 

Subjects joined by As well as/Rather than/More than/As much as/With/Besides/In addition to/Accompanied by etc:
When two subjects are joined by 'With,' 'Along with,' 'Together with,' 'In the company of,' 'In addition to,' 'Besides,' 'Accompanied by,' etc. the verb agrees with the first subject.
Example: "John, together with his friends, is going to the concert."

When the subject is a collective noun:
A collective nouns such as "team," "orchestra," "committee," "fleet," "swarm," "family," "class," "pack," "bouquet," "pair," and "flock" take a singular verb, when the members of the group are acting together as a unit. Use a plural verb when the members of the group are acting as individuals.
The team is practicing diligently for the upcoming tournament.
The orchestra performs at the concert hall every weekend.
The committee has scheduled a meeting for next Monday.
A fleet of ships is docked at the harbor.
The team are discussing their strategies individually.
The orchestra are tuning their instruments backstage.
The committee are divided in their opinions on the matter.
A fleet of ships are setting sail for different destinations.

Do these exercises to test and improve your proficiency

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