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Mastering Grammar

10 Basic Subject Verb Agreement rules that you should know

Mastering Grammer - 10 Basic Subject Verb Agreement rules that you should know


What is subject-verb agreement?
Subject-verb agreement simply states that the subject of the sentence and the verb of the sentence must be in agreement in number.

Okay, that sounds good but what does it actually mean?

Let's take an example to understand this simple concept.

  • Example 1: The dog is playing with his ball.
    In this case, the subject of the sentence is 'dog' and the verb used is singular in nature, 'is playing'.
  • Example 2: The dogs are playing with their ball.
    In this case, the subject of the sentence is 'dogs' and the verb used is plural in nature, 'are playing'.

This is what subject-verb agreement means. Hope this is perfectly clear to you.

In order to enhance our learning, let's learn a series of subject-verb agreement rules that you need to learn and understand.
  • RULE 1: When two subjects are joined by 'and', the verb is plural.
    For example: My friend and his mother are in town.
  • RULE 2: When two singular nouns joined by 'and' refer to the same person or thing, the verb is singular.
    For example: The captain and coach of the team has been sacked.
    In case these were two different individuals, two articles needs to be used: The captain and the coach of the team have been sacked
  • RULE 3: Indefinite pronouns (everyone, each one, someone, somebody, no one, nobody, anyone, anybody etc.) are always singular.
    For example: Everyone is selfish.
    We do not use are in this sentence.
    This rule does not apply to: few, many, several, both, all, some.
  • RULE 4: When the percentage or a part of something is mentioned with plural meaning the plural verb is used.
    For example: 40 of every 100 children are malnourished.
  • RULE 5: When the subjects joined by 'either or' or 'neither nor' are of different persons, the verb will agree in person and number with the noun nearest to it.
    For example: Neither you nor your dogs know how to behave.
  • RULE 6: If connectives/appositives like along with, together with, as well as, accompanied by etc. are used to combine two subjects, the verb agrees with the subject mentioned first.
    For example: Mr. Ram, accompanied by his wife Site and his brother, was banished to the forest.
  • RULE 7: A number of/ the number or
    For example: A number of students are going on the trip.
    'A number of (some countable noun)' is always plural. 'The number of (some countable noun)' is always singular.
  • RULE 8: The singular verb form is usually used for units of measurement or time.
    For example: Five gallons of oil was required to get the engine running.
  • RULE 9: When any of 'few, many, several, both, all, some' is used with a countable noun, the verb is plural.
    For example: Some men are needed for the battle.
  • RULE 10: When any of 'few, many, several, both, all, some' is used with an uncountable noun, the verb is singular.
    For example: Some milk is spoilt.
    The above are ten basic rules that you can use master subject-verb agreement.


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