Rules of Subject-Verb Agreement: Most English learners are well aware of the structure like you are, we are, he is, etc. But they often fail to connect the subject and its verb in a little longer sentence that changes the meaning of a sentence. To avoid this failure, we must identify the actual subject and the main verb in a sentence. This article will teach you the rules of subject-verb agreement and provide examples so that you can see how they are applied.
Rules of Subject-Verb Agreement
Rule-1: The subject of a sentence must agree with its verb in number, i.e., they both must be in the correct form (both are singular or both plural).
- That boy eats mangoes.
- Those boys eat mangoes.
- He shares his books with his friends.
- My brother always drives to work.
- They enjoy music.
It does not matter how many qualifiers divide the subject and verb. They must always be linked.
- A bag with two cell phones was found in the class.
- The number of questions he asked me is increasing my knowledge.
In the first sentence, the subject is “A bag,” not the cell phones. So, the verb that goes with it is singular.
In the second sentence, the is refers to the number, not to questions; therefore, we put the verb in the singular form because the is singular.
It will be beneficial to remember that is, was, has. Most verbs ending in a single “s”are singular, for example, plays, works, thinks, studies, etc. the other verbs like have, are, were, and verbs not ending in a single “s” is plural; for example, they study, we go, you play, etc.
Rule-2: When two singular nouns or pronouns are the subject of a sentence and are joined by and the verb must be plural.
- Ahmad and Saleem are best friends.
- Physics and biology are lengthy subjects.
- Were your brother and sister at home last night?
- Oil and water do not mix.
- The walls and the furniture of this school were beautifully decorated.
But the two or more nouns or pronouns connected by and proposed the idea of a singular person or thing to the mind, or it is referred to the same person or thing previously stated the verb must be singular.
- Our professor and adviser is in the office.
- Bread and butter is eaten by him.
- My class fellow and engineer was dead.
- Bread and butter is a popular food.
Rule-3: Subordinate clauses don’t affect subject-verb agreement when they are placed between the subject and verb.
- The book you brought last night was written by my favorite author.
- The man who went to the school was not returned.
Rule-4: When we place a prepositional phrase between the subject and verb does not affect the subject-verb agreement.
- The design of the house is beautiful.
- The performance of the two young players was very impressive.
Rule-5: A unit of time or measurement always takes a singular verb.
- Thirty minutes is reserved for each test.
Rule-6: Two infinitives joined by “and” require the verb in plural form.
- To listen and to read required significant attention.
Rule-7: If the words each, every, or no precede the subject in a sentence, the verb must always be singular.
- Every student and teacher is needed to be present.
- Each of these flowers is found in our area.
Rule-8: Some sentences begin with “there” or “here,” the subjects of such sentences will always remain after the verb.
- There is a problem with my bank account.
- Here are the books you requested.
Rule-9: When the subject is singular and some other words connected to that singular subject by “with, as well as, along with, together with, like, unlike, nothing but, besides, accompanied by, including, and in addition to” the verb must be put in the singular form.
- The teacher, with his students, is to be present.
- My brother, as well as my three nephews, is infected.
- Ahmad, along with his other fellows, is coming tomorrow.
Rule-10: If a sentence consists of two singular subjects and are joined by the following words
not only/but also.
The verb must be in the singular form in that sentence.
- Either the teacher or the students are wrong.
- Neither you nor she is blamed.
But if the subjects are plural and connected by the words mentioned above, the verb must be plural.
- Not only computers but also mobile phones are available in this market.
Rule-11: When two subjects of different persons joined by or, nor, neither/nor, either/or,” or “not only/but also the verb agrees with the last subject.
- Either you or he is mistaken.
- Either he or you are mistaken.
Rule-12: The following words take a singular verb.
- Neither of the two candidates was eligible.
- Every one of the students wants more marks.
- Either of them has created this problem.
Rule-13: Two nouns joined by “and” and are qualified by each or every require a singular verb.
- Every boy and every girl was given the award.
- Every thirty minutes, a bike is stolen here.
But when the word ‘each’ is placed after subject, the verb is plural. For example
- They each have taken their cups.
Rule-14: The Indefinite pronouns few, many, several, both, all, and some are always used with the plural form of the verb.
- All come to the office at once.
- Few of my students enjoy my lecture.
- Many were surprised at the result.
Rule-15: The following words may be singular or plural depending on the meaning of the sentence.
Rules-16: Nouns such as statistics, mathematics, dollars, news, etc., are plural in form but singular in meaning and must be used with singular verbs.
- Mathematics is the branch of physical sciences.
- Every news is good news for me.
- The dollars coin is becoming popular in the world.
Rules-17: The meaning of some subjects may seem plural, but that always takes a plural verb.
- Someone in the game was hurt. (not were)
Rules-18: If the subject of a sentence is a gerund, it takes the singular form of the verb.
- Playing cricket is good for health.
- Reading storybooks and playing piano are our hobbies. (Two subjects joined by and)
Rules-19: Collective nouns either take singular or plural verbs. It takes a singular verb when thought as one whole and takes a plural verb when the individuals of the collection are thought.
- That family has moved to London. (Family is considered as singular)
- The family have given their opinions. (Family is considered as plural)
- The team is getting a new coach next month.
- The team are excited about the victory.
Rules-20: Nouns which are plural and denote some specific quantity or amount considered is one unit the verb is singular.
- Twenty kilometers is a long distance.
- Fifteen minutes is left in airplane arrival.
Rules-21: “Do” is plural, and “Does” is singular. Similarly, in the negative sentence, we use don’t (contraction of do not) when the subject is plural and doesn’t (contracted form of does not) when the subject is singular.
- She doesn’t watch tv.
- We don’t like it.
Rules-22: The titles of a single entity, such as books, an organization or country, etc., take the verb in singular form even when they are plural in form.
- The Guns of August was written by Barbara W. Tuchman.
- The United States has become a world power.
Rules of Subject-Verb Agreement Examples