Subject Verb Agreement means that the verb in a sentence must agree with the subject in terms of number and person.
Following are the top 30+ golden rules of Subject Verb Agreement.
Golden Rules of Subject Verb Agreement
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #1
Uncountable nouns take singular verbs, even if their meaning suggests plurality.
- The water is refreshing. (Uncountable noun, singular verb)
- The furniture needs cleaning. (Uncountable noun, singular verb)
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #2
A singular subject requires a singular verb, while a plural subject requires a plural verb. However, a singular subject takes a plural verb in the subjunctive mood.
- The cat jumps on the table. (Singular subject, singular verb)
- The dogs bark loudly. (Plural subject, plural verb)
- If she were a bird, she would fly in the sky. (Singular subject, plural verb in the subjunctive mood)
- If I were the President, we would abolish the exam. (Plural subject, plural verb in the subjunctive mood)
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #3
When two singular nouns combine to refer to a single person or object, the verb is singular.
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- The Headmaster and President of the school is coming. (referring to one person holding both positions)
- The Headmaster and the President of the school are coming. (referring to two different individuals)
- A black and white horse is my favorite. (referring to a horse with both black and white colors)
- A black and a white horse are for sale. (referring to two horses, one black and one white)
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #4
When an adjective is used as a noun, “the + adjective” is followed by a plural verb.
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- The rich are often targeted by thieves.
- The young are full of energy and enthusiasm.
- The poor are not always dishonest.
- The elderly are wise and experienced.
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #5
When a title or name with a plural form refers to a singular subject, a singular verb is used.
- “The Beatles” was a legendary band.
- “The United States” is a country with diverse landscapes.
- “The Rolling Stones” is known for their energetic performances.
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #6
Subjects connected by “each” or “every” always take a singular verb.
- Every student has a textbook.
- Each cat was fed this morning.
- Every car in the parking lot needs to be moved.
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #7
When two or more subjects are connected by ‘and’, the verb is plural. However, if one of the subjects connected by ‘and’ is negated with ‘no’ or ‘not’, the verb agrees with the previous subject.
- Lisa and Pamela are two sisters.
- She and her friend have arrived here.
- Only boys and no girls are guilty.
- Only he and not his friends is the culprit. (Note: In this example, the verb agrees with the subject ‘he’ because it is the last subject before the negation ‘not’.)
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #8
When two or more singular subjects are joined by “or,” “nor,” “either…or,” or “neither…nor,” the verb remains singular.
- Either the cat or the dog is responsible for the mess.
- Either Peter or David has eaten the Pineapple.
- Either the red shirt or the blue shirt goes well with these pants.
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #9
When a singular and a plural subject are joined by ‘or’, ‘nor’, ‘either… or’, ‘neither… nor’, the verb agrees with the plural subject at the end.
- Either the dog or the cats have been causing trouble.
- Either John or his siblings are responsible for the mess.
- Neither the car nor the bikes were parked properly.
- Either the book or the magazines belong on the shelf.
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #10
When ‘or’, ‘nor’, ‘either… or’, ‘neither… nor’ combine subjects of different persons, the verb agrees with the subject of the person at the end.
- Either she or I am going to the party.
- Neither you nor he is invited to the wedding.
- Either you or he has to take responsibility for the mistake.
- Neither John nor his friends want to participate in the game.
- Either Mary or her sisters are going on vacation.
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #11
If the subjects of different numbers or persons are connected by ‘and’, the verb is plural.
- You, he, and I are going to the movies tonight.
- You and he are both excellent singers.
- You and I will be working together on this project.
- Mary and her friends are going on a road trip.
- The dog and the cats are playing in the backyard.
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #12
Collective nouns, when used to convey a sense of togetherness or unanimous action, take a singular verb. However, when they are used to convey a sense of separation, they take a plural verb. Examples of such nouns include audience, class, committee, crowd, flock, jury, parliament, team, etc.
- The audience was applauding at the end of the performance. (togetherness)
- The class was studying diligently for the upcoming exam. (togetherness)
- The committee have differing opinions on the matter. (separation)
- The flock is migrating south for the winter. (togetherness)
- The jury were unable to reach a unanimous decision. (separation)
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #13
“A lot of / A group of / A number of” collectively take a singular verb when referring to a single entity, and a plural verb when referring to multiple entities.
- There is a lot of food on the table. (referring to a single quantity)
- A lot of people are attending the concert. (referring to multiple individuals)
- Here is a group of students. (referring to a single group)
- A group of birds are flying in the sky. (referring to multiple birds)
- A number of complaints has been received. (referring to a single count of complaints)
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #14
Some nouns that are singular in form but plural in meaning take a plural verb.
- The police are investigating the crime. (referring to multiple police officers)
- People have different opinions on this topic. (referring to multiple individuals)
- Two dozen eggs cost forty-eight rupees. (referring to 24 eggs)
- The staff are taking their lunch break. (referring to multiple staff members)
- The committee members have arrived for the meeting. (referring to multiple committee members)
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #15
Some nouns that are plural in form but singular in meaning take a singular verb.
- The news is spreading quickly. (referring to a singular concept)
- The wages of sin is eternal suffering. (referring to a singular consequence)
- Physics is a fascinating branch of science. (referring to a singular field of study)
- Politics is his passion and life’s work. (referring to a singular domain)
- The mathematics problem is challenging. (referring to a singular mathematical problem)
Note: Some nouns are always plural and take a plural verb.
- The goods were shipped to the warehouse. (referring to multiple items)
- My belongings have been packed in boxes. (referring to multiple personal items)
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #16
When a plural noun is preceded by ‘one of’, ‘each of’, ‘either of’, ‘neither of’, etc., the verb agrees with the noun and takes a singular form.
- One of the boys was absent from school. (referring to a singular boy)
- The quality of the oranges is excellent. (referring to a singular quality)
- Each of the girls is talented. (referring to a singular girl)
- Either of the books is available for borrowing. (referring to a singular book)
- Neither of the books was interesting to read. (referring to a singular book)
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #17
‘More than one’ takes a singular verb, but ‘more than two/three’ or more takes a plural verb.
- More than one car is parked in the garage. (referring to a singular quantity)
- More than two books are missing from the library. (referring to multiple books)
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #18
If more than one subject is joined by ‘with’, ‘together with’, or ‘as well as’, the verb agrees with the first subject.
- Mike, as well as his friends, was punished. (referring to multiple subjects)
- Sarah, together with her sisters, is going on vacation.
- The dog, as well as the cats, needs to be fed.
- The professor, along with his students, is attending the conference.
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #19
When parentheses follow the subject, they do not affect subject-verb agreement.
- Sarah (with her two friends) is going to the party.
- The dog, barking loudly, is running in circles.
- John (who is known for his punctuality) arrives early.
- The cake, freshly baked, smells delicious.
- The car, parked in the driveway, needs a wash.
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #20
In “not only… but also” constructions, the verb agrees with the last subject.
- Not only she but also her sisters were invited to the event.
- Not only the cat but also the dog likes to play outside.
- Not only Tom but also his friends have seen the movie.
- Not only the children but also their parents are excited about the trip.
- Not only the flowers but also the trees need watering.
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #21
When the relative pronoun is the subject, the verb agrees with the antecedent.
- I, who am your teacher, am here to help you.
- He, who is my neighbor, often lends me his tools.
- You, who are my best friend, know me well.
- The cat, which is my pet, loves to chase mice.
- The students, who are in the advanced class, are studying for the exam.
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #22
Pronouns and verbs agree in gender and context for words like anybody, everybody, anyone, everyone, each, etc.
- Everybody should do his or her part to protect the environment.
- Everybody is responsible for his or her own success.
- Anyone can pursue his or her passions and achieve greatness.
- Each of the students should bring his or her textbook to class.
- Anyone can achieve his or her dreams with determination and hard work.
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #23
“One” is used as a singular pronoun and should be paired with “one’s” and “oneself.”
- One should always respect one’s elders.
- One must take care of oneself in order to stay healthy.
- One cannot achieve success without putting in the effort.
- One should be proud of one’s accomplishments.
- One should always be true to oneself.
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #24
When “Many a/Many an” precedes a noun, both the noun and the verb should be in the singular form.
- Many a student is studying for the exam.
- Many an opportunity has been missed.
- Many a bird sings in the morning.
- Many an artist has painted this landscape.
- Many a child dreams of becoming a superhero.
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #25
Plural verbs are used after pair nouns like trousers, scissors, glasses, etc.
- Here are the scissors.
- These trousers need altering.
- Your new glasses look stylish.
- The pliers are in the toolbox.
- The binoculars are essential for birdwatching.
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #26
Auxiliary verbs are used only once when two principal verbs are related.
- I have lost the pen but got the book.
- She can sing and dance well.
- They should study and prepare for the test.
- He might come or call later.
- We will eat dinner and then watch a movie.
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #27
When two numbers are joined by “and,” the verb can be either singular or plural.
- Six and two makes (make) eight.
- Nine and three equals (equal) twelve.
- Seven and one results in (result in) eight.
- Ten and five total (totals) fifteen.
- Twelve and six make (makes) eighteen.
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #28
When indicating the quantity, a singular verb is used, and when indicating the number, a plural verb is used.
- Half of the apple is rotten.
- Half of the apples are ripe.
- Two-thirds of the pizza is gone.
- Two-thirds of the students are present.
- Three-fourths of the city was affected by the blackout.
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #29
Certain nouns, such as advice, furniture, hair, and trouble, are always used in the singular form.
- The advice she gave me was helpful.
- His furniture is modern and stylish.
- I have a lot of hair on my head.
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #30
Some nouns, like ashes, proceeds, and vegetables, are used only in plural form.
- The ashes from the bonfire were scattered by the wind.
- The proceeds from the charity event will be donated to a good cause.
- We should eat more vegetables for a healthy diet.
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #31
Material nouns that indicate the substance of which things are made should not be used in plural form.
- This sculpture is made of clay and bronze.
- The table is crafted from wood and metal.
Note: Material nouns can be used in plural form as common nouns, referring to objects rather than the substance.
- The boys were throwing stones at the frogs.
- She collected different types of papers for her art project.
Rules of Subject Verb Agreement #32
When pronouns of different persons are used together in a sentence, the usual order is 2nd, 3rd, and 1st. However, if confessing a fault, the order becomes 1st, 3rd, and 2nd.
- You, he, and I should attend the meeting (not I, you, and he).
- I, they, and you were wrong in this situation.
- We, the students, and you apologize for the misunderstanding.
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