In English, subjects and verbs have to agree.
Before we get into what that means, let’s start at the very beginning.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A SUBJECT?
The subject of a sentence is the person, place, or thing that is doing or being something. In other words, the subject is always a noun that is somehow involved in the action.
In the following examples, the subject is in bold italics:
- The child’s favorite toy is broken.
- Jo’s dog has been barking incessantly for hours.
- The rain is falling like a steady stream.
- My friends are running late.
- The famous pop singers look silly.
Here are some singular nouns:
Here are some plural nouns:
WHAT EXACTLY IS A verb?
A verb is a doing word.
A verb can express the following:
- A physical action (e.g., to run, to dance, to climb).
- A mental action (e.g., to think, to ponder, to remember).
- A state of being (e.g., to be, to exist, to appear).
The most common type of verb is to be.
Here is how to conjugate it:
For the purpose of this lesson, we won’t talk about verb tenses. Instead, we’ll focus on singular and plural forms. (After all, that’s what subject-verb agreement is about.)
Here are some verbs expressed in their singular forms:
Here are the same verbs expressed in their plural forms:
And now, the agreement part ...
All we have to do now is to pair up the singular nouns with singular verbs, and plural nouns with plural verbs.
- Jo’s cat sleeps all day. (Singular “cat” with singular “sleeps.”)
- The singer writes his band’s tunes. (Singular “singer” with singular “writes.”)
- The chair is about the break. (Singular “chair” with singular “is.”)
- Students write many essays during the year. (Plural “students” with plural “write.”)
- Some pens are extremely expensive. (Plural “pens” with plural “are.”)
- Jo likes to watch animals eat. (Plural “animals” with plural “eat.”)
That was easy, right? (Singular “that” with singular “was.”)
Our next article is going to show you some more complicated situations. (Singular “article” with singular “is.”)