Subject Verb Agreement

On this page, we will learn about subject-verb agreement, the basic rules of subject-verb agreement, and examples.

If the subject and verb agreement, the sentence is grammatically sound. Present-tense phrases frequently have more difficulty with subject-verb agreement.In this section we will go through Subject Verb Agreement lesson.

Subject Verb Agreement

For the IELTS, it's crucial to comprehend subject verb agreement.

This is a fairly basic mistake, so if you make it in your writing or speaking, others will be able to tell.

Take a look at this sentence, for instance, which exhibits problems with subject-verb agreement:

Many people claim that leaving people in prison for a long time mean that they will mix with other criminals and so they won't develop in character. The other option are community service. An offender now has the chance to contribute positively to society, and so it may promotes their character. Also, the government could concentrate its resources on the causes of offense, which would leads to less offense in the long run.

The Basic Rules of Subject Verb Agreement:

These are the basic rules of subject verb agreement:

1. The verb must end in -s for a singular third person (he, she, or it) in the present tense:

Singular Plural
I make We make
You make You make
He makes They make

Singular: He makes salad to eat every morning.

Plural: His family make biscuits.

2. The irregular verb "to be" is formed in a variety of ways, but the third person singular is still marked with a –s

Singular Plural
I am We are
You are You are
He is They are
I was We were
You were You were
He was They were

Singular: She was on the train by 8am.

Plural: Her children were on the bus by 8.30am.

But these are only the fundamental guidelines.

In order to ensure that you correctly use subject verb agreement in all instances, there are additional things that are crucial to comprehend as well as certain things that are unclear.

Now let's look at a few of these.

There is and There are

There is never the subject when using there is and there are. The word that follows the verb is the topic.

As a result, you must consider that word to determine if the verb is singular or plural.

There are so many reasons why we must armor the problem of green-house effects.

There is only one reason we must armor the green-house effects.

When there are numerous nouns following the verb, it can occasionally cause confusion. The error of employing a plural verb is frequent. In actuality, just the first noun should agree with the verb.

Look at this straightforward illustration:

There is a pencil, some pens, and a ruler on the table.

There are pencils, one pen and some rulers on the table.

You just need to consider the first noun in each of these instances to determine whether the subject is singular or plural; you can disregard the rest.

Separated Subjects

Another typical error occurs when a prepositional phrase, relative clause, or shortened relative clause separates the subject from the verb.

Making the verb agrees with the last noun in a phrase or clause rather than the sentence's subject is incorrect.

Incorrect: Improving the livelihoods of people in towns are very important.

Correct: Improving the livelihoods (of people in town) is very important.

Since "cities" is a part of the prepositional phrase, it shouldn't agree with it.

Additional instances of proper subject-verb agreement are provided below (the phrase or clause that should be disregarded for the purposes of agreement are placed in brackets):

Obesity (in kids) is a growing issue.

The adjudication (made by the nation's leaders following multiple discussions) was unquestionably the best choice.

The new over bridges (which the government constructed) have not reduced road accidents.

Expressions of Quantity

Dealing with quantity is another challenging area for subject verb agreement.

The requirements above apply when a quantity word is followed by a prepositional phrase: the verb must agree with the quantity.

One of the new instructors is from Italy.

None of the examinees is likely to get the pass mark. (The plural form is frequently employed in spoken English - 'are likely')

Four of my students are visiting with me on this Friday.

To determine if a quantity phrase uses a singular or plural verb, you must look at the noun in the prepositional phrase:

Singular Plural
A lot of... A lot of the beef is raw. A lot of the apples are green.
All of the... All of the beef is raw. All of the apples are green.
Some of the... Some of the beef is raw. Some of the apples are green.
One-half (third etc) of... One-half of the cartoon is empty. Unleaded fuel is used by one-third of the vehicles on the road.

Neither and Either

The verb must agree with the noun nearest to the verb in these phrases:

Neither the student nor her guardians are at the school.

Neither the guardians nor their kid is at the school.

Either my sister or my brothers usually help me.

Either my brothers or my sister usually helps me.

Indefinite Pronouns as subjects

A common mistake is made in subject verb agreement with indefinite pronouns, as people often assume they must take a plural verb because they refer to more than one thing.

Here are some common examples of indefinite pronouns:

any- every- some- no-
everyone someone anyone no one
everybody somebody anybody nobody
everything something anything nothing

Everyone seems to be nervous at their exam period.

Something needs to be done to decrease the rate of crime.

In according to the news, nobody is personally accountable for the problems.

Modal Verbs

The third person singular no longer requires a singular verb because modal verbs are always followed by the bare infinitive:

Incorrect: She will makes the tea to drink.

Correct: She will make the tea to drink.

Incorrect: It would seems that they are well.

Correct: It would seem that they are well.


Gerunds, verbs that become nouns by adding – ‘ing’, require a single subject at all times. Keep in mind to focus on the gerund rather than the possible noun that follows the gerund and the verb:

Giving food to the poor in poor countries is what most aid goes toward.

Managing my workshop takes up most of our time.

Typing is an art that I had not mastered then.