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How to Understand Subject Verb Agreement

Subject verb agreement is one of the most fundamental aspects of effective writing. It is the backbone of proper grammar and sentence structure, and it plays a crucial role in conveying your message accurately and coherently. Understanding how it works can be challenging, but once you’ve got the basics down, you’ll be able to write with greater clarity and confidence. In this article, we’ll provide a guide on how to understand subject verb agreement and some tips on how to use it correctly.

What is subject verb agreement?

Subject verb agreement refers to the relationship between the subject of a sentence and the verb that goes with it. In simple terms, this means that the verb must agree with the subject in terms of number and person. In other words, if the subject of a sentence is singular, the verb must also be singular, and if the subject is plural, the verb must be plural as well. This may sound simple, but there are a few tricky aspects to subject verb agreement that can trip up even experienced writers.

How to recognize subject verb agreement errors

One of the most common mistakes in subject verb agreement is using a plural verb with a singular subject, or vice versa. For example:

– The cat chase the mouse. (Incorrect)

– The cat chases the mouse. (Correct)

To avoid this mistake, you need to remember that singular subjects take singular verbs, while plural subjects take plural verbs.

Another common mistake is using a singular verb with a compound subject. For example:

– Tom and Jerry was a popular cartoon. (Incorrect)

– Tom and Jerry were a popular cartoon. (Correct)

In this case, you need to remember that compound subjects take plural verbs.

Tips for using subject verb agreement correctly

Here are some tips to help you use subject verb agreement correctly in your writing:

1. Identify the subject and the verb

The first step in getting subject verb agreement right is to identify the subject and the verb in each sentence. This will help you understand the relationship between them and ensure that they agree in terms of number and person.

2. Watch out for tricky subjects

Some subjects can be tricky to identify, such as collective nouns, indefinite pronouns, and compound subjects. Collective nouns, such as team, family, and group, can be singular or plural depending on the context. Indefinite pronouns, such as everyone, anyone, and nobody, are always singular. Compound subjects are made up of two or more nouns or pronouns joined by a conjunction, such as and or or.

3. Use singular and plural forms correctly

Make sure you know the difference between singular and plural forms of verbs. Singular forms usually end in -s or -es, while plural forms do not. If you’re not sure which form to use, check a grammar guide or consult a copy editor.

4. Be consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to subject verb agreement. Make sure that the verb agrees with the subject throughout the sentence and the paragraph. Avoid switching between singular and plural forms unless it’s necessary for clarity.

5. Practice

The more you practice subject verb agreement, the easier it will become. Keep practicing until it becomes second nature. You can also use online quizzes and exercises to check your understanding and improve your skills.


Subject verb agreement is a fundamental aspect of effective writing, and understanding how it works is essential for clear and accurate communication. By following the tips outlined in this article, you’ll be able to use subject verb agreement correctly and avoid common errors. Practice regularly, and you’ll soon be able to write with confidence and clarity.