What Is Subject Verb Agreement | How to Learn Rules and Examples

To learn Subject Verb Agreement (SVA), we need to know about four key contents:

  • What is Subject and Verb in a Sentence
  • Identification of Subject and Verb
  • What is Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Basic Rules

Subject

It is a person, thing, place, or idea that is doing or being something. It is a doer in the sentence.

Verb 

Verb; For making a sentence grammatically right and correct, a verb must agree with its subject in numbers.  is an action performed by the subject. 

Example of Identification

Musa plays cricket regularly.

Who is performing the action (plays cricket) → Musa. So Musa is the subject.

Now, what subject (Musa) is performing → plays cricket. So, playing cricket is the verb.

The subject may be 1st person, 2nd person, or 3rd person. 

1st person → I, We

2nd person → You

3rd person → He, She, It, They

Subject Verb Agreement Definition

For making a sentence grammatically right and correct, a verb must agree with its subject in numbers. 

Explanation

Firstly, in subject-verb agreement; the subject may be a noun or pronoun. As we know that a subject is a doer in a sentence that performs any action. So, the subject may be a noun or pronoun. As important as the subject-verb agreement is concerned, if the subject is singular then the verb also should be singular. This is the agreement between subject and verb and is hence called subject-verb agreement. Moreover, we change our verbs according to the subject. 

Remember, nouns, pronouns, and verbs undergo singular or plural concepts among all parts of speeches. So, there is a need to recognize only these three contents in regard to singularity or plurality. 

Condition 1: When Subject is 3rd Person

Singular Subject → Singular Verb

Plural Subject →  Plural Verb

Example

When Subject is Singular

That monkey eats banana. 

That red car goes fast.

In the above examples, monkey and red car both are singular so their verb eats and goes will also be singular. 

When Subject is Plural

Those monkeys eat bananas.

These cars go fast. 

Here, monkeys and cars are in plural forms. So, their verb will also be plural (eat, go).

Condition 2: When Subject is not 3rd Person

If the subject is not 3rd person then it can be singular and plural. Then we will use a plural verb with this subject.

Example

I read a newspaper regularly. 

We read magazines daily.

So, a plural verb can also be used with the subjects which are singular or plural but are not 3rd person.

Condition 3: When Subject is 2nd Person

If the subject is 2nd person, use the plural form of the verb.

Example;

You solve a complex problem.

Rules for Subject Verb Agreement

Rule No.1

Two singular subjects connected by ‘and’ require a plural verb.

Examples

Gold and silver are very precious and rare metals.

Gold and silver represent plural subjects so verb form must be plural. So, are represents plural verb.

He and I enjoy the big party.

He and I represent the plural subjects, so the plural verb (enjoy) will be used.

Exceptional Case

When a noun represents one idea or one thing, use the singular form of the verb.

Examples

Bread and butter is his only hygienic food.

Time and tide waits for none.

Rule No.2

Two or more singular subjects join by ‘or’ / ‘nor’, requires a singular verb. 

Examples

Neither food nor water was there.

Example 2; Either the cat or mouse has been there.

In the above two examples, ‘was’ and ‘has’ represent singularity. 

Rule No.3

If a singular subject is connected with a plural subject with ‘or/nor’. Use plural verb.

Example

Neither the chairman nor the directors were present.

Rule No.4

If the subjects belong to different persons (1st/2nd/3rd) and connected with ‘or’/’nor’, the verb agrees the nearer. We can also say that the last pronoun uses its matching verb.

Examples

Example 1; Neither you nor he is to be blamed.

In the above example, ‘you’ is the third person but we used ‘is’ as a verb because ‘he’ is nearer to the verb.

Either you or I am mistaken.

In the above example, ‘you’ is the third person but we used ‘am’ as a verb because ‘I’ is nearer to the verb.

Rule No.5

If there are indefinite pronouns like either, neither, each, everyone, many, etc. Use the singular form of the verb.

Examples

Everyone of the children loves to play with the toys.

Each of the following questions is important.

Many a man has done the same mistake.

Rule No.6

Sometimes, there are some nouns that are in plural form but express singular meaning. Use the singular form of the verb for such subjects (noun). 

Examples

Mathematics is the branch of science and study in every school.

The news is not correct at all.

Rule No.7

When the noun (subject) is in singular form but gives the plural meaning, it will agree with the plural form of the verb.

Example

One dozen mango cost three hundred rupees.

Dozen is in singular form but having plural meaning and hence agrees to plural verb ‘cost’.

Subject Verb Agreement Practice

Fixing Errors

  1. Those sort of people are always nice. (incorrect)

Fixation

In the above sentence, we will focus on the subject (those sort) and verb (are) to correct the error. So, we will look at both subject and verb. This sentence can be fixed in two ways. Firstly, replace ‘are’ to ‘is’ and subject ‘those sort’ to that sort. For example;

Those sort → that sort

Are → is

So,

That sort of people is always nice. (correct)

Secondly, fix your subject from ‘those sort’ to those sorts and do not change the verb ‘are’.

Those sort → those sorts

Are → are

So,

Those sorts of people are always nice.

2. It has been said that several student are achieving their benchmarks.

Fixation

In the above sentence, subject (it) and verb (has) agree to each other because both are singular. So, there is no error but in the remaining sentences, there is a mistake. The word ‘several’ expresses plural characteristics and the next word to ‘several’ is ‘student’ that is in the singular form. But it must be in plural form as the word ‘several’ shows plural behavior. So, the correct sentence will be;

Several Student → Several students

So,

It has been said that several students are achieving their benchmarks. 

3. There are hundred of superstitions.

In the above-mentioned example, the noun ‘superstitions’ is in a plural form and the subject of superstitions is a hundred that is in the singular form. So, it disagrees with the subject-verb agreement. To fixate, the subject of superstitions must be in plural form. 

Hunder of superstition → hundreds of superstitions

So, the correct subject-verb agreement will be:

There are hundreds of superstitions. (correct)

As both hundreds and superstitions are in plural form, therefore it qualifies the subject-verb agreement.

4. Many student have been declared successful.

Many expresses plural, therefore, student will be replaced to students. 

Many student → many students

So, 

Many students have been declared successful.

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