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SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT

NEC FACET Center

Remember this rule,

The subject and verb should always agree


Im Sally Subject. We ALWAY S agree Im Vernon Verb.

And these 6 sub-rules!


1. If a subject ends in an s, the verb will not. If a subject does not end in an s, the verb will. 2. Even when words come in between the subject and verb, they should both agree. 3. When joining two or more subjects with and, use a plural verb. 4. When joining two or more subjects with neither/nor, either/or, or, and nor, use a verb that agrees with the nearer or nearest subject. 5. Collective nouns (a group of individuals or things) use either singular or plural verbs depending upon the context. 6. Even if a sentence is inverted, the subject should agree with the verb.

Definitions

Subject The

word/s that name the topic of the sentence The word/s that the sentence is about

Verb The

word that states the action or state of the subject appropriate pairing of subject and verb based on whether the subject and verb are plural or singular and whether the person is first, second, or third.

Subject-Verb Agreement The

How to check S-V agreement


1.

2.

3.

4.

Identify the verb (action or state of being word) Identify the subject (who or what the sentence is about) Check whether the subject is plural or singular or special. Then check whether is it first, second, or third person. Based on your findings about the subject, make sure the verb fits.

Identifying the Verb

Ask which word shows action or relationship to the verb.


The

dog jumps over the fence. Stephanie and Bethany have names that rhyme. Everybody came to JoAnns party. Did you see the shirt she wore? That house is so dilapidated.

Conjugating a verb

For present tense, generally add an s or es for third person singular. Otherwise, add nothing to the verb.
Singular First Person Second Person Third person I eat. You eat. S/he eats. Plural We eat. You eat. They eat.

Singular
First Person Second Person Third person I talk. You talk. S/he talks.

Plural
We talk You talk. They talk.

Special verbs
BE First person Second Person Third Person HAVE First person Singular I am You are S/he is Singular I have Plural We are You are They are Plural We have

Second Person Third Person


DO First person Second Person Third Person

You have S/he has


Singular I do You do S/he does

You have They have


Plural They do You do They do

Identifying the Subject

Ask who or what the sentence is about.


The

dog jumps over the fence. Stephanie and Bethany have names that rhyme. Everybody came to JoAnns party. Did you see the shirt she wore? That house is so dilapidated.

Rule # 1

1. If a subject ends in an s, the verb will not. If a subject does not end in an s, the verb will. Im Sally
Hi Sally. Im Vernon Verb, and I am single.
Subject, and Im single.

If Im single, Vernon Verb better be too.

Rule #1: Agreement

Singular subjects need singular verbs.

Singular subjects include the following:

I, you, he, she, it, dog, house, etc.

I eat. You eat. She eats. You have ears. She has ears. The dog has ears.

Plural subjects need plural verbs.


Plural subjects include the following:

We, they, dogs, houses, etc.

We eat. They eat. The dogs eat. We have ears. They have ears. The houses do not have ears.

Rule #1 Practice: Singular and Plural Subjects


1.

My hair suffer/suffers from the terrible humidity. Their hairstyles look/looks the same. Jodi is/are my closest confidant. The FACET Center is/are my favorite place to be. Fast food employees smile/smiles when they see me coming.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Rule #1(some exceptions) Special Subjects: words that end in -s

Some words that end in s are singular.


The

news sometimes makes my head hurt. Mathematics is my favorite subject.

Some words that end in s are plural because they have more than one part.
The

scissors cut through paper easily. The pants are brand-spanking-new.

Rule #1 (some exceptions) Special Subjects: indefinite pronouns

Indefinite pronouns do not refer to a specific person or item.

Ex. Everyone, anyone, each, either, everybody, someone, nothing, one, nobody, neither, anything

Always singular

Anybody, anyone, anything, each, either, everybody, everyone, everything, neither, nobody, no one, none, nothing, one, somebody, someone, something
Both, few, many, several Some, any, all, most

Always plural

Sometimes singular, sometimes plural

Rule #2

2. Even when words come in between the subject and verb, they should both agree.
Please dont separate us!

But if you do, well still agree.

Rule #2 Separated subject and verb

The subject and verb should always agree, no matter how many words are separating them!
Billy,

the master carpenter, charges exorbitant prices.


Billy

is the subject. Charges agrees with Billy.

Billy,

along with all of his co-workers, charges exorbitant prices.


Billy

is still the subject. Charges agrees with Billy.

Did

you know that Billy, my best friend ever of all of my carpenter friends, doesnt charge me at all?
Billy

is still the subject. Doesnt agrees with Billy.

Rule #3

When joining two or more subjects with and, use a plural verb.
Hey Sally! Meet my sister, Stephanie Subject.

Rule #3 Compound Subjects

A compound subject occurs when two or more subjects are grouped using a conjunction (such as and, nor, or). Usually compound subjects are plural.
Tom

and Sally eat food. Neither the horse nor the mule want to graze on muggy days.

Rule #3 Compound Subjects Cont.

Compound subjects are singular when

they refer to the same idea/entity

My most stable friend and my only means to independence is my car.

*Friend and means to independence are both referring to the car.

NOT My most stable friend and my only means to independence are my car.

they are considered one unit

they are preceded by each or every


Each house, trailer, and apartment serves as someones home. NOT Each house, trailer, and apartment serve as someones home.

Rule #4

When joining two or more subjects with neither/nor, either/or, or, and nor, use a verb that agrees with the nearer or nearest subject.
No, Stephanie. Vernon and I agree. Heswill closer to me. Either Sally or Stephanie agree with Vernon, whoevers closest.

But Vernon

Rule #4 Examples: Neither, nor, either, or

Neither the counselor nor the parents know what to do with Billy Bob.
know

agrees with parents, not counselor

The receptionist or the tutors try to help you.


Try

agrees with tutors, not receptionist

Either the dogs or the cat defend the house when the humans are away.
Defend

agrees with cat, not dog

Rule #5

Collective nouns (a group of individuals or things) use either singular or plural verbs depending upon the context.

Rule #5 Special Subjects: collective nouns

Collective nouns refer to a group.

Ex. team, audience, staff, herd, class, majority

Generally, collective nouns are singular.


Ex. The team wins. Ex. The class cheers when the teacher announces no homework.

Collective nouns may be plural when referring to its members as individuals.


The staff were complaining about the influx of paperwork. *To clarify the sentence, you may add a modifier.

Rule #6

Even if a sentence is inverted, the subject should agree with the verb.

Rule #6 Subjects after the verb

When the subject follows the verb, the two must still agree.

There is an incredible amount of food under my bed.


is agrees with amount are agrees with food items

There are many food items under my bed. Waiting on the Dr. Phils desk to be graded was a stack of papers ten feet high.

was agrees with stack

Waiting on Dr. Phils desk to be graded were papers stacked ten feet high.

were agrees with papers

Practice!

The dogs howl/howls at night. The desk stay/stays messy, despite how much we hope it will clean itself. The students who always wear sunglasses in class smell/smells like sunscreen today. Melissa and Joan love/loves watching Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. The blank worksheets and the teachers edition remain/remains in my bag at all times.

More Practice!

Neither the math tutor nor the English tutors want/wants to play in the puddle today. Either the English tutors or the math tutor play/plays hopscotch on the weekends. The team win/wins every game. The family speak/speaks in turn as each name is called. Open the door, say/says Timmy every time he comes near an automatic door. Off fly/flies the papers as the door swooshes open.

Just remember, Sally and Vernon always agree.


Bye, Vernon!
See you later, Sally!