SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT with Easy Examples and all Rules

What is a Subject-Verb Agreement?

Subject-verb agreement means choosing the correct verb after the subject.

You have already read about the subject part and the predicate part of a sentence. The subject is closely connected with what is said in the predicate. The form of the predicating verb depends on whether the subject is singular or plural in number. It also depends on whether the subject is in the first/ second person or third person.

See, the agreement between the subjects and verbs in the following sentences:

SubjectPredicate verbOther parts of the predicate
IamIn the classroom
We/You/ TheyareIn the classroom
He/She/It/Mina/The teacherisIn the classroom
The teachers and the studentsareIn the classroom
The goatEatsgrass

The cow, and sheep
ategrass

If we change the sentences into the past tense, the predicating verbs will be was (in place of am and is),  were (in the place of are), and ate  (in the place of eats and eat).

All rules of SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT

Rule-1 of Subject-Verb Agreement

1. (a) When the sentence starts with a dummy ‘there‘, the verb agrees with the logical or real subject that comes after the verb.

  • There is/was a bag on the table.
  • There are/were three bags on the table.

      (b) When the sentence starts with a dummy ‘it,  the verb is always singular, i.e., ‘is’  or ‘was‘.

  • It is/was raining heavily.

Rule-2 of Subject-Verb Agreement

2.         In mathematical expressions ‘is’ is generally used:

  • Two and two is/makes four. (Some people allow are)
  • Two plus two is four.
  • Two twos are four. (The subject is twos).
  • Six minus two is four.
  • Two times two is four.

Rule-3 of Subject-Verb Agreement

3.         When an expression of amount, distance, weight, height, or time is spoken of as a single unit or a single unit of measurement, it is often used as a singular subject:

  • Sixteen miles is a long walk.
  • Six weeks is a long vacation.
  • Twenty thousand rupees is too much for a TV.
  • One hundred and fifty kilos of rice is enough for a month.

Rule-4 of Subject-Verb Agreement

4. (a)    When two nouns closely related to each other are joined ‘and’, they are sometimes considered as a single unit.

  • Bread and butter is my favourite breakfast.
  • Slow and steady wins the race.
  • Rice and dal is our favourite food.

  (b)       In other cases and joining two singular or plural subjects makes the total subject plural.

  • Ram and his mother have come.
  • His father has not come.

Rule-5 of Subject-Verb Agreement

5. (a)    Collective (group) nouns refer to groups of people or things. A singular group noun may take either a singular or a plural verb. If we consider the group noun to be a single unit, we prefer a singular verb. If we consider it as a collection of separate individuals, we use    the plural verb:

  • The crowd was/were in a cheerful mood.
  • Our family isn’t poor anymore. (Single unit)
  • Our family are not early risers. (Individuals in the family)
  • The committee was unanimous on this issue. (single unit).
  • The committee were divided on this issue. (individual members)

            Other group nouns of this category are enemy, public, government, army, audience, community, majority, company, flock, group, herd, team, class etc.

(b)  Some group nouns like police, people, poultry, government, cattle etc. usually take plural verbs:

  • The police are after the thief.
  • The government have kept all their promises.
  • The cattle are grazing.

Rule-6 of Subject-Verb Agreement

6.         Clothing, food, furniture and stationery are singular and take singular verbs.

  • The furniture needs to be repaired.

Rule-7 of Subject-Verb Agreement

7.         Modifying phrases or clauses following the subject noun does not affect the verb. The verb depends on the number and person of the head noun of the subject phrase.

  • One of my friends lives in the nearby village.
  • My friend, who lives in the nearby village, has painted this picture.

Rule-8 of Subject-Verb Agreement

8. (a)    If the subject phrase begins with either of, neither of or none of followed by a plural noun or pronoun, the verb is usually singular or plural.

  • Either of the boys has got a prize.
  • Neither of them has come.
  • None of them / the students has arrived yet.

[Use of plural verbs in these cases is considered informal and such verbs are sometimes used in conversational English.]

    (b)   each of, One of etc. always take singular verbs:

  •  Each of the students was given a prize.
  • One of the girls was able to answer the question correctly.

   (c.)     If a singular noun follows no or some. It takes a singular verb. If it is followed by a             plural noun. It takes a plural verb.

  • No child has done his homework.
  • No children have done their homework.
  •             Only some water is left in the pot.
  • Some boys have gone on a picnic.

(d)        If and connects two titles or designations of the same person, the verb is singular. If the persons referred to are different, the verb is plural.

  • The Vice-President of India and Chairman of Rajya Sabha has given his consent to the bill.
  • The Vice-President of India and the speaker of Lok Sabha have agreed to this proposal.

[To indicate that the persons talked about are two separate individuals, we use the definite article the before each person as in the second example above.]

Rule-9 of Subject-Verb Agreement

9.         If the subject begins with a fraction the verb agrees with the noun that follows the fraction.

  • Two-thirds of the crop has been damaged.
  • Two-thirds of the apples are rotten.

Rule-10 of Subject-Verb Agreement

10. (a) If the subject begins with a good deal of, a great deal of, a lot of, plenty of, most of,  some of etc. The verb agrees with the noun that follows these phrases:

  • Some of the music was superb. (uncountable noun)
  • Some of the children were naughty. (countable noun)

(b)        A number of …… followed by a plural noun takes a plural verb. But the number of ……in a            similar situation takes a singular verb as the real subject is the number.

  • A number of children are suffering from cold.
  • The number of sick children is increasing.

Rule-11 of Subject-Verb Agreement

11.       Statistics, mathematics, Physics, Economics, News, Measles, Mumps, Advice, Information,          Jewellery, Scenery, etc.

  • Mathematics is my favourit subject.
  • Mumps is a dangerous disease.
  • The news was bad.

            No information is available now.

Rule-12 of Subject-Verb Agreement

12.       If the subject is a clause, the verb is singular.

  •             What they do these days does not concern me.

Rule-13 of Subject-Verb Agreement

13.       If two nouns are joined by with, as well as, in addition to, together with/ along with etc.,             the verb agrees with the first subject.

  • The teacher with all his students has come.
  • Harish as well as his brothers was responsible for the loss.
  • Population growth in addition to other problems has made the country poor.
  • The man together with his children was questioned.

Rule-14 of Subject-Verb Agreement

14.       If two nouns are joined by not only…..but also, or, neither …..nor, either ….or, the verb agrees with the nearer noun phrases.

  • Not only  Harish but also his brother are equally responsible.
  • Ram or his friends have broken the glass.
  • Neither the doctor nor the nurses are to blame.
  • Either you or he has to leave the place.

Rule-15 of Subject-Verb Agreement

15.       Some nouns are made up of two similar parts in a pair like scissors, trousers, spectacles   (glasses), etc. These words are treated as plural subjects.

16.       When an adjective is used as a noun representing a class, it takes a plural verb:

  • The rich have a lot of responsibility towards the poor.
  • The blind are given training in handicrafts.

Rule-17 of Subject-Verb Agreement

17.       The verb in a relative clause is singular or plural depending on the number and person of   the relative pronoun:

  • It is you who have insulted me.
  • It is he who has torn my notebook.

Exercise with Answers for Complete Subject and Verb Agreement

Exercise-1
Exercise-2
Exercise-3

Read and learn more about Subject-Verb Agreement at Grammarly.com

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-Aristotle

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