Subject verb agreement is an exciting topic. Basically, if a subject is singular, the verb must be singular. If a subject is plural, the verb must be plural. A firm grasp on the rules of subject verb agreement is essential. In fact, we outline 20 of those rules here.
When subjects and verbs don't agree, it can confuse the listener or reader. This will distract them from whatever information you're trying to impart upon them. So, instead of enjoying your prose, they'll wonder if you got your verb tenses wrong or, perhaps, selected the wrong subject. Let's break this down a little further.
The gist is this: a singular subject takes a singular verb and a plural subject takes a plural verb.
Here are some examples of proper subject verb agreement:
The little boy plays in the sandbox.
The mother loves all of her children.
The girls read a book together.
Happily sing the birds in the trees.
Notice in the last example that the inversion of the subject and verb causes the sentence to sound more poetic. However, the subject and verb still agree in number.
Here are two more special examples that demonstrate how careful you have to be when ensuring the subject and verb agree:
Each of the students writes a paragraph for homework.
In this example, you might argue that "students" (plural) does not match "writes" (singular). However, notice that "each" (singular) is the subject, which is what has to match the verb. Just because "students" is the noun closest to "writes" doesn't mean they're the noun and verb that have to match.
Many of the girls wear pink dresses to prom.
In this example, "many" and "girls" are both plural, so you might have not made a mistake. Nonetheless, know that "many" and "wear" are the noun and verb that have to agree with one another..
For more sentences to illustrate how this all comes together, check out Examples of Subject Verb Agreement.
Ready to test your understanding of subject verb agreement? These quizzes and worksheets should help.
Try your hand at our Quiz in Subject Verb Agreement. It's a fun article, complete with test questions. If you're looking for more online quizzes, here are some helpful links:
Grammar Bytes offers a 25-question quiz on subject verb agreement.
City University of Hong Kong has a 22-question quiz. After you select the correct answers from the pull down menu, you can submit the quiz and receive your score.
Grammar Book features a challenging multiple-choice quiz to measure your grasp of the rules governing subject verb agreement.
YourDictionary has also created a printable Subject Verb Agreement Worksheet to practice subject verb agreement. If you're searching for more printable worksheets, these websites may be useful:
Instructor Web has a lesson plan for teachers to use when teaching subject verb agreement to junior high and high school students. However, registration is required to gain access to all of the lesson materials.
Teachnology offers a variety of printable worksheets for teachers working on this topic. Five of the worksheets deal exclusively with subject verb agreement.
English Linx has several printable worksheets suitable for Grades K - 12.
Those who are learning English as a second language often find it difficult to master the rules of subject verb agreement. If you're looking for resources to help ESL students learn more about subject verb agreement, check out these sites:
ESL Printables has a basic worksheet for introducing new English speakers to the concept of subject verb agreement.
Activities for ESL Students provides a simple online subject verb agreement quiz.
iSL Collective features nearly 100 free subject verb agreement worksheets.
When subjects and verbs agree, all is right in the world. If a sentence ever looks funny, pull out the subject and the verb. Make sure they're both singular or plural. You can look up the definition of each word for further clarity.
This will help you keep your grammar game on point. And, if you're in the mood to further test your skills, take a look at these 11 rules of grammar. In it, we discuss verb tenses, as well as the importance of using active voice. Each of these points will help you craft beautiful, well-crafted sentences.