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. 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!

Audio: Image - Button Play
Image - Lession Started Image - Button Start

Think of a time when you agreed 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, you are saying that their opinion is correct or that you will do an activity with them, and they understand what that agreement means.

When you write, your subject and verb must agree in each of your sentences.

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

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

As you watch the video below, take notes that will help you remember how to decide what verb to use and write down any exceptions to the rule.

Image - Video

When you have a simple sentence, it can be straightforward to decide which verb to use with the subject.

Example: The cat (is, are) starving.

There is only one cat, so the correct verb would be is.

The cat is starving.

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.

Example: Janet and Tom are coming for dinner.

The word and combines the two people, 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 essential aspect of subject-verb agreement is using the correct verb tense. The word tense means time.

Verbs can show present, past, and future tense.

Present tense verbs tell about things that are happening right now. Sometimes they end with an s.

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.

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.

Shall and will are used as helping verbs to show the future tense.

letters of the alphabet are crossed with verbs and subjects

  • Want to give it a try?

Record yourself reading an old piece of your writing. Listen to the recording for errors in the writing.

  • How did your 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.

Image - Button Next