Subject Verb Agreement

Starting in grade 1, students learn about the use of singular and plural nouns in sentences, and the verbs those correlate to in sentences.

What is subject-verb agreement?

Subject-verb agreement means that the subject (the noun) of the sentence and the verb must agree, either in case or number.

The basic rule is:

A singular subject takes a singular verb.

Example: The sun shines brightly in the sky.

subject verb agreement

A plural subject takes a plural verb.

Example: The stars shine brightly in the night sky.

subject verb agreement

In later grades, students work on more complex sentences, where the subject-verb agreements become more complicated. This can cause some confusion for students, so we thought we’d run through the most common subject-verb agreements.

Subject in sentences with ‘of’

In sentences with the word of, the subject often comes before ‘of’.

Example: The bouquet of roses smells wonderful.

subject verb agreement

Subject in either/or, neither/nor

In sentences with two singular subjects connected by either/or, neither/mor take a singular verb.

Example: Mom or Dad cooks dinner at night.

subject verb agreement

Subject in sentences with ‘and’

In sentences two or more subjects connected by ‘and’, the verb is a plural verb.

Example: Tom and Ben play soccer in the park.

subject verb agreement

There are some exceptions to this rule: Breaking and entering is against the law. The bed and breakfast is wonderful.

Distances, periods of time, sums of money

In sentences using periods of time, distances, sums of money, etc. the subject is considered a singular subject.

Example: Twenty dollars is a high price to pay for a quart of milk.

subject verb agreement

There’s an exception to the rule: Twenty dollars were scattered all over the field. In this case, the reference is to several dollar bills. They are referred to as multiple units, so a plural subject.