Subject-Verb Agreement


The subject-verb agreement rule means that when making a sentence, the subject and verb must "agree" (= be the same):

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Singular subject => singular verb

Plural subject => plural verb

A singular noun is a noun that refers to one person or thing (such as kid, chair, bus, etc.).

A singular verb is a verb that describes the action or state of one person or thing (such as is, has, talks, etc.).

A plural noun is a noun that refers to more than one person or thing. It usually ends with an S (such as kids, chairs, buses, etc.).

A plural verb is a verb that describes the action or state of more than one person or thing. It usually doesn't end with an S (such as are, have, talk, etc.).


Examples of singular subjects:
  • the cat
  • Bonnie
  • a cookie
  • he
  • she
  • it
Examples of singular verbs:
  • drinks
  • works
  • tastes
  • takes
  • makes
  • sounds
Examples of plural subjects:
  • The cats
  • Bonnie and Fred
  • a few cookies
  • they
  • we
Examples of plural verbs:
  • drink
  • work
  • taste
  • take
  • make

Subject-verb agreement – example sentences:

Correct: James is a singer.

Incorrect: James are a singer.
Subject-Verb Agreement


Correct: They are fighting.

Incorrect: They is fighting.
Subject-Verb Agreement


Correct: Tom likes his car.

Incorrect: Tom like his car.
Subject-Verb Agreement

So how do you make sure your subjects and verbs agree?

  1. Identify the subject.

  2. Determine whether it is singular (one) or plural (more than one).

  3. Make sure the verb agrees (is the same).

Here is a simple example:


The bird _________ (be) on the tree.

The subject = The bird => singular (one bird)

Therefore, the correct sentence is: The bird is are on the tree.


And here is a not so simple example:

The list of students _________ (be) very long.

The subject = The list => singular (one list)

Therefore, the correct sentence is: The list of students is are very long.

Here are some more rules on subject-verb agreement:

Singular subject + and + singular subject => plural verb

Correct: A girl and a boy are planting a tree.

Incorrect: A girl and a boy is planting a tree.
A girl and a boy are planting a tree.



Singular subject + or / nor + singular subject => singular verb

Correct: Neither Alex nor Peter is blond.

Incorrect: Neither Alex nor Peter are blond.
Neither Alex nor Peter is blond.


Singular subject + or / nor + I => am

Correct: Either Joe or I am going to stay here.

Incorrect: Either Joe or I are going to stay here.

Incorrect: Either I or Joe is going to stay here.
Either Joe or I am going to stay here.



Singular subject + or / nor + plural subject => plural verb

Correct: The dog or cats sleep here.

Incorrect: The cats or dog sleep here.

Incorrect: The dog or cats sleeps here.
The dog or cats sleep here.



Singular subject + comments => singular verb

Correct: Bob, not his wife, is doing the cooking.

Incorrect: Bob, not his wife, are doing the cooking.
Bob, not his wife, is doing the cooking.


Correct: Justin, as well as a shark, swims in the water.

Incorrect: Justin, as well as a shark, swim in the water.
Justin, as well as a shark, swims in the water.



Every, each, everyone, everybody, anyone, anybody, someone, somebody => singular verb

Correct: Each of the apples is so delicious.

Incorrect: Each of the apples are so delicious.
Each of the apples is so delicious.



All / some / none + singular noun => singular verb

All / some / none + plural noun => plural verb

Correct: Some of the cake is pink.

Incorrect: Some of the cake are pink.



Correct: Some of the cakes are pink.

Incorrect: Some of the cakes is pink.
Some of the cake is pink.



Percent / fraction / part + singular noun => singular verb

Percent / fraction / part + plural noun => plural verb

Correct: Most of the group is from around here.

Incorrect: Most of the group are from around here.



Correct: Eighty percent of the people have a job.

Incorrect: Eighty percent of the people has a job.
Most of the group is from around here.



Either of / Neither of => singular verb

Correct: Neither of them contains sugar.

Incorrect: Neither of them contain sugar.
Neither of them contains sugar.



Money / time => singular verb

Correct: Ten thousand dollars is the highest amount we can give you.

Incorrect: Ten thousand dollars are the highest amount we can give you.



Correct: Five years is a reasonable amount of time to pay them back.

Incorrect: Five years are a reasonable amount of time to pay them back.
Ten thousand dollars is the highest amount we can give you.

These were the subject-verb agreement rules. Use them to make grammatically correct sentences.

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