English Notes:Subject-Verb Agreement

By Naveen Singh|Updated : April 22nd, 2020

The subject-verb agreement refers to the rules for using correct verb according to singular or plural subject in a sentence. 

Basic Rule: A singular subject (he, John, car) takes a singular verb (is, goes, works), whereas a plural subject takes a plural verb. 

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  • Rohan has shifted to a new home. 
  • Rohan and Sneha have shifted to a new home. 
  • Rohan, along with his wife, has shifted to a new home. 

In the first sentence, “has” a singular helping verb is used because the subject “Rohan” is singular. 

In the second sentence, “Have” a plural helping verb is used because a plural subject “Rohan and Sneha” is used in the sentence. 

In the third sentence, though two persons are used in the sentence the use of ‘along with’ separates the subject “Rohan” and indicates it as a singular subject, that is why a singular helping verb “has” is used. 

The Rules of Subject-Verb Agreement are as follows

  1. When the subject of the sentence includes two or more nouns or pronouns connected by ‘and’, a plural verb is used in that case. 

Example – Sam and Tina were selected for the job. 

  1. If Two or more singular subjects (noun or pronoun) are connected by ‘or’, 

either/or, or neither/nor, a singular verb is required. 

Example – Neither Sam nor Sarah is interested in hockey. 

  1. If singular and a plural noun or pronoun are joined by ‘or’ or nor’, the verb is used according to the subject that is closest to the verb. This is also called the rule of proximity. 

Example – Either the boy or the girls have cleaned the room. 

  1. Sometimes a (singular) noun is connected to the other nouns with words or phrases like as along with, as well as, besides etc. Such phrases are not considered part of the subject. Use a singular verb when the subject is singular

Example – He, along with other students, was awarded a prize. 

  1. When a singular noun is connected to a plural noun by the word ‘of’, then a 

singular verb is used in the sentence. 

Example – The list of guidelines was prepared. Example – A group of students is prepared for the competition. 

  1. Collective nouns are words that express more than one person but are considered singular and singular verb is used for them. Example- group, team, committee and class etc. 

Example – Their Team is playing well. Example – The group meets every week. 

  1. In the sentences beginning with “here” or “there”, the verb is used according to the words that follow it. 

Example - Here are the keys. Example – There is a huge number of people in the market. 

  1. The words each, everybody, no one, nobody, someone, neither, either is singular. So, a singular verb will be used for these words. 

Example – Each of these fruits is delicious. 

Example – Somebody is knocking at the door. 

  1. When ‘few, all, many, both, several etc’ is used with a countable noun, the verb is plural. 

Example – Some men are needed for the war. 

  1. When ‘few, all, many, both, several etc’ is used with an uncountable noun, the verb is singular. 

Example – Some cream is spoilt. 

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Examples of Subject Verb Agreement. 

  • These clothes are too big for me. 
  • My dog always barks at the postmaster. 
  • Rohan doesn’t like fruits. 
  • The lion drinks his water every day. 

Compound subject examples: 

  • Either my brothers or grandpa is going to the park. 
  • My mom or day is coming to the play. 
  • Neither Gray nor white is my favourite colour. 

Singular indefinite pronoun examples: 

  • Somebody will pay for this. 
  • Everybody enjoys a good song. 
  • Nothing is sure as of yet. 
  • Each gets a trophy for playing. 

Plural indefinite pronouns: 

  • Most of the cookies were eaten. 
  • Both are eligible for the job. 
  • Many went to the salon and got rashes. 
  • Some people are allergic to peanuts. 

Collective Nouns: 

  • The crowd is getting angry. 
  • The committee meets here every Sunday. 
  • There is a hair in my soup. 
  • A good gift is a book. 

Exercise for Subject-verb agreement

Choose the correct form of the verb that agrees with the subject. 

  1. John and Sarah (doesn’t / don’t ) want to see that movie. 2. Either answer (is/are) acceptable. 3. One of my brothers (is/are) going on a trip to France. 4. Charles (don’t / doesn’t) know the answer. 5. The council members (leads, lead) very different lives in private

Answers : 

  1. John and Sarah don’t want to see that movie. 2. Either answer is acceptable. 3. One of my brothers is going on a trip to France. 4. Benito doesn't know the answer. 5. The council members lead very different lives in private. 

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