Sentence Fluency: Subject-Verb Agreement

Contributor: Delaine Thomas. Lesson ID: 12623

What happens when two people doesn't agree? Does you agrees that something seem odd about these sentences? Like all friends, subjects and verbs must agree, and you'll learn to spot and avoid mistakes!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Think of a time when you made an agreement with a group. Did you agree because everyone else did or because you thought the idea or plan made sense? What happens when words don't agree or make sense?

When you agree with someone that their opinion is correct, or that you will do an activity with them, you are saying “Yes” to that friend, and he or she understands what that agreement means.

When you write, it is important that your subject and verb agree in each of your sentences.

Before moving on, if you need to see any of the previous Sentence Fluency lessons, go to Related Lessons in the right-hand sidebar.

  • What does it mean that your subject and verb must agree?

It basically means that if you have a singular subject, then you need a singular verb. If you have a plural subject, you need a plural verb.

Take out a piece of paper and pencil. As you watch Smrt English's Subject Verb Agreement, take notes that will help you remember how to decide what verb to use, and write down any exceptions to the rule:


When you have a simple sentence, it can be very easy to decide which verb to use with the subject. For example: The cat (is, are) very hungry. There is only one cat, so the correct verb would be “is”: The cat is very hungry. Both the subject and the verb are singular. The difficulty comes when you have compound subjects, indefinite pronouns, and collective nouns.

  • When you have a compound subject, you need a plural verb because the subject is also plural. An example of this is, Janet and Tom are coming for dinner. The word “and” combines the two people, thereby needing a plural verb.
  • Indefinite pronouns, such as "one," "everyone," "each," and "nobody," when used as subjects, receive a singular verb.
  • Collective nouns receive a singular verb as well, because you are talking about the group as a whole and not the individual members of the group. Examples of collective nouns include "army" and "class."

Another very important aspect of subject-verb agreement is to use the correct tense of the verb. The word "tense" simply means "time." Verbs can show present tense, past tense, and future tense.

  • Present tense verbs tell about things that are happening right now. Sometimes they end with an "s." For example: He walks to school.
  • The past tense verb tells about things that happened before this time. You might say that they happened in the past. The past tense of most verbs ends in "-ed." For example, I worked yesterday.
  • The future tense verb tells about things that haven't happened yet but will happen sometime later. You would say they will happen in the future. The words "shall" and "will" are used as helping verbs to show future tense.

Before continuing to the next section, try this activity: Record yourself reading an old piece of your writing. Listen to the recording for errors in the writing.

  • How did your piece of writing sound when you listened to it?

Usually, how you write is how you speak, so not only do you need to correct your writing habits, but your speaking habits as well.

Continue to the Got It? section to practice subject-verb agreement.

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