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Subject - Verb Agreement Rules

RULE 1. A phrase or clause between subject and verb does not change the number of the
subject.

Examples:

RULE 2. Indefinite pronouns as subjects

Singular indefinite pronoun subjects take singular verbs.

Plural indefinite pronoun subjects take plural verbs.

PLURAL: several, few, both, many

Some indefinite pronouns may be either singular or plural: with uncountable,


use singular; with countable, use plural.
EITHER SINGULAR OR PLURAL: some, any, none, all, most

Sugar is uncountable; therefore, the sentence has a singular verb.

Marbles are countable; therefore, the sentence has a plural verb.

RULE 3. Compound subjects joined by and are always plural.

RULE 4. With compound subjects joined by or/nor, the verb agrees with the subject nearer to it.

In the above example, the plural verb are agrees with the nearer subject actors.

In this example, the singular verb is agrees with the nearer subject director.

RULE 5. Inverted Subjects must agree with the verb.


RULE 6. Collective Nouns (group, jury, crowd, team, etc.) may be singular or plural, depending on
meaning.

In this example, the jury is acting as one unit; therefore, the verb is singular.

In this example, the jury members are acting as twelve individuals; therefore, the verb is
plural.

RULE 7. Titles of single entities (books, organizations, countries, etc.) are always singular.

RULE 8. Plural form subjects

Plural form subjects with a singular meaning take a singular verb. (e.g. news, measles,
mumps, physics, etc.)

Plural form subjects with singular or plural meaning take a singular or plural verb,
depending on meaning. (e.g. politics, economics, etc.)
In this example, politics is a single topic; therefore, the sentence has a singular verb.

In this example, politics refers to the many aspects of the situation; therefore, the sentence has a
plural verb.

Plural form subjects with a plural meaning take a plural verb. (e.g. scissors, trousers)

Note: In this example, the subject of the sentence is pair; therefore, the verb must agree with
it. (Because scissors is the object of the preposition, scissors does not affect the number of the verb.)

RULE 9. With subject and subjective complement of different number, the verb always agrees
with the subject.

RULE 10-A. With one of those ________ who, use a plural verb.
The above example implies that others besides Hannah like to read comic books. Therefore, the
plural verb is the correct form to use.

RULE 10-B. With the only one of those ________who, use a singular verb.

The above example implies that no one else except for Hannah likes to read comic books. Therefore, the
singular verb is the correct for to use.

RULE 11-A. With the number of _______, use a singular verb.

RULE 11-B. With a number of _______, use a plural verb.

RULE 12. With every ______ and many a ________, use a singular verb.
Subject-Verb Agreement ACT Prep
Directions: Choose the correct verb in each sentence below.

____________ 1. Emily and Greg (comes, come) to my house every Friday for lunch.

____________2. There ( is, are) time to watch the movie.

____________3. My friends who are in the band (wants, want) me to play a musical instrument.

____________4. My father or my brothers (is, are) coming with me to the ball game.

____________5. Everyone (needs, need) time to relax.

____________6. That bag of oranges (looks, look) fresh.

____________7. The lacrosse team (hopes, hope) to win the tournament next week.

____________8. Your trousers (needs, need) to be cleaned.

____________9. Some of the books on the shelf (is, are) dusty.

____________10. Even though the students like the class, a few (thinks, think) that it is too

complicated.

____________11. Mumps (is, are) not common among adults.

____________12. Viruses from third world countries (is, are) a major concern.

____________13. Most of the sand (is, are) wet from the high tide.

____________14. Either the two kittens or the puppy (sits, sit) in my lap while I watch television.

____________15. A subject of great interest (is, are) rainforests.

____________16. Hansel and Gretel (is, are) a famous children's story.


____________17. The team members (is, are) arguing over the defense tactics.

____________18. The economics of the trip (was, were) pleasing.

____________19. Why (is, are) your parents going to Africa for a vacation?

____________20. The mayor and the governor (hopes, hope) that the bill will soon become a

law.

____________21. The books from the library (need needs) to be returned by Friday.

____________22. The parents and the child often (watch watches) Disney movies.

____________23. The phone that belongs to the two friends (have has) finally run out of minutes.

____________24. That pair of trousers (look looks) good on you.

____________25. Either Matilda or her brothers (use uses) the symphony tickets each week.

____________26. The crowd (were was) cheering wildly for Tom.

____________27. The politics of this campaign (seem seems) very complicated.

____________28. Everyone at the company's headquarters (know knows) the code to the safe.

____________29. Gulliver's Travels (are is) one of my favorite books.

____________30. Measles (cause causes) a good deal of itching.


Subject Verb Agreement Key
1. The correct answer is come. Emily and Greg (comes, come) to my house every Friday for
lunch. Rule #3
2. The correct answer is is. There (is, are) time to watch the movie. Rule #5
3. The correct answer is want. My friends who are in the band (wants, want) me to play a
musical instrument. Rule #1
4. The correct answer is are. My father or my brothers (is, are) coming with me to play a
musical instrument. Rule #4
5. The correct answer is needs. Everyone (needs, need) time to relax. Rule #2
6. The correct answer is looks. That bag of oranges (looks, look) fresh. Rule #1
7. The correct answer is hopes. The lacrosse team (hopes, hope) to the tournament next
week. Rule #6
8. The correct answer is need. Your trousers (needs, need) to be cleaned. Rule #8
9. The correct answer is are. Some of the books on the shelf (is, are) dusty. Rule #1 & #2
10. The answer is think. Even though the students like the class, a few (thinks, think) that it is
too complicated. Rule #2
11 The correct answer is is. Mumps (is, are) not common among adults. Rule #8
12. The correct answer is are. Viruses from third world countries (is, are) a major concern. Rule
#9 and Rule #1
13. The correct answer is is. Most of the sand (is, are) wet from the high tide. Rule #2
14. The correct answer is sits. Either the kittens or the puppy (sits, sit) in my lap while I watch
television. Rule #4
15. The correct answer is is. A subject of great interest (is, are) rainforests. Rule #9 and Rule
#1
16. The correct answer is is. Hansel and Gretel (is, are) a famous children's story. Rule #7 on
the
17. The correct answer is are. The team members (is, are) arguing over their defense
tactics. Rule #6
18. The correct answer is were. The economics of the trip (was, were) pleasing. Rule #8
19. The correct answer is are. Why (is, are) your parents going to Africa for a vacation? Rule
#5
20. The correct answer is hope. The mayor and the governor (hopes, hope) that the bill will
soon become a law. Rule #3
21. The correct answer is need. The books from the library need to be returned by Friday. Rule
#1
22. The correct answer is watch. The parents and their child often watch Disney movies.
Rule #3
23. The correct answer is has. The phone that belongs to the two friends has finally run out of
minutes. Rule #1
24. The correct answer is looks. That pair of trousers looks good on you. Rule #1
25. The correct answer is use. Either Matilda or her brothers use the symphony tickets each
week. Rule #4
26. The correct answer is was. The crowd was cheering wildly for Tom. Rule #6
27. The correct answer is seem. The politics of this campaign seem very complicated. Rule
#1 and Rule #8
28. The correct answer is knows. Everyone at the company's headquarters knows the code to
the safe. Rule #1 & #2
29. The correct answer is is. Gulliver's Travels is one of my favorite books. Rule #7 Your
answer:
30. The correct answer is causes. Measles causes a great deal of itching. Rule #8