Subject verb agreement

The subject and the verb must agree, both must be singular or both must be plural. Problems arise in the present tense because an -s /-es must be added at the end of the verb when the subjects performing the action is a singular third person: he, she, it or words they could substitute.
Let’s see the following example for clarity.

  • The third person singular form of the regular verb has -es at the end. The other verbs are alike.
  • When the subject of a sentence is composed of two or more pronouns connected by and use plural verb.
    Adam and his friends are at the library
  • When two or more singular nouns and pronouns are connected by or OR nor, use a singular verb.
    The book or the cassette is in the shelf
  • When the compound subject contains both singular and plural noun and pronoun joined by or OR nor, the verb should agree with the subject nearer to the verb
    The girl or her friends dance every weekend.
    Her friends or the girl dances every weekend.
  • Doesn’t/does not should be used only with singular subject.
    He doesn’t like to miss any class.
  • Don’t/do not should be used with plural subject alone.
    They don’t like to miss any class.
  • When a phrase comes between subject and the verb, the verb agrees with the subject and not the noun or pronoun in the phrase.
    1. One of the girls is a singer.
    2. The students who come late to the lab are few.
    3. The team leader, as well as his players, is nervous.
    4. The book, including all the chapters in section one, is boring.
    5. The man with all his dogs walks everyday.
  • Each, each one, either, neither, everyone, everybody, anybody, anyone, nobody, somebody, someone, and no one are singular and require a singular verb.
    Each of these roses is fresh
  • Nouns such as civics, mathematics, dollars, measles, and news require singular verbs.
  • The local news is on at seven.

  • The word dollars is a special case. When talking about an amount of money, it requires a singular verb, but when referring to the dollars themselves, a plural verb is required.
    1. Three dollars is enough for buying a coffee.
    2. Dollars are used in Germany than Yens.
  • Nouns like scissors, tweezers, trousers, and shears require plural verbs. (There are two parts to these things.)
    1. These trousers are made of cotton.
    2. These scissors are blunt.
  • Collective nouns are words that imply more than one person but that are considered singular and take a singular verb, such as group, team, committee, class, and family.
    1. The team sings beautifully
    2. The committee decides every spending in the town.
    3. The group has a long history of violent behavior.
    4. Physics class is very boring.
    5. The family is very happy to see his accomplishments.
  • Expressions such as with, together with, including, accompanied by, in addition to, or as well do not change the number of the subject. If the subject is singular, the verb is too.
    The president along with his family is visiting Brazil.
  • In sentences beginning with there is or there are, the subject follows the verb. Since there is not the subject, the verb agrees with what follows.
    1. There are many cars in the parking lot.
    2. There is a pending ticket.
  • Practice quiz:

      Check the following sentences and correct the tenses or say no change at all:

    1. The boys was playing cricket.
    2. Everyone have a favorite player.
    3. Several of the students chooses not to write the exam.
    4. They say a woman’s home is her castle.
    5. The man and his son eats pizza every evening.
    6. All the pencils including the glittering ones are on the table.