Subject-Verb Agreement

When you use a verb, you have to say who or what is doing the action. This ‘who or what’ is the subject of the verb. The subject and the verb match each other. You say that the subject and the verb agree when they match each other.

1. If the subject is a singular noun, or the pronoun he, she or it, you need a singular verb.

  • She enjoys music.
  • She shares her books with her friends.
  • The zookeeper is feeding the animals.
  • The children are playing on the swings.
  • The earth moves round the sun.
  • Dad always drives to work.
  • The clerk is wrapping a package.
  • Does everyone know the answer?
  • Mom has bought a dress for Sara.

2. Use a plural verb if the subject is a plural noun, or the pronoun we, you or they.

  • The two girls always walk home together.
  • The children are playing on the swing.
  • All birds lay eggs.
  • The stars shine brightly on a clear night.
  • Mom and Dad love us a lot.
  • Do you all know the words?
  • We have finished our game of tennis.
  • They have both worked very hard.

3. Collective nouns may be used with either singular or plural verbs. If the group members are all acting together as one, use a singular verb. If the members of the group are acting as individuals, use a plural verb.

  • The audience are laughing.
  • The band is playing.
  • Our team has won.

Singular

  • That family has moved to Texas.
  • The team is coached by Mr. Clark.

Plural

  • The family were giving their opinions.
  • The team are sharing new ideas.

4. Some plural nouns, such as people, cattle, police, don’t end with -s. Always use a plural verb with these nouns. For example:

  • People like to be praised.
  • The cattle are in the field.
  • The police have caught the thief.