Subject-Verb Agreement


Subject-Verb agreement is one of the essential components of English grammar rules that one needs to perfect to avoid common grammatical errors. The basic tenet of subject-verb agreement is that a singular subject demands a singular verb while a plural subject demands a plural verb. That primarily is the nutshell of subject-verb agreement but this seemingly straightforward concept becomes complex when the subject of sentence changes its form. In this comprehensive tutorial, we will delve into various types and rules of subject-verb agreement to make this integral grammatical concept easier.

Understanding Subjects and Verbs


The subject of a sentence is the person, thing, or place that is doing or being something. It's what the verb is describing or acting upon. These can range from I, you, He, She, It, We, They or any name of a person, place or thing.


The verb is the action word in a sentence that describes what the subject is doing. While 'run', 'swim', and 'study' are common examples of verbs, verbs also represent states of being like 'is', 'are', 'was', 'were'.

Basic Rule of Subject-Verb Agreement

The fundamental rule of subject-verb agreement is that a singular subject requires a singular verb while a plural subject requires a plural verb. Let's look at few examples:

  • The cat runs after the mouse. (Singular subject, Singular verb)
  • The cats run after the mouse. (Plural subject, Plural verb)

Rules of Subject-Verb Agreement

Subject-Verb agreement gets a little bit trickier as the complexity of the sentence increases. Below we discuss some of these rules:

Rule 1: Indefinite Pronouns

Most indefinite pronouns are singular. This rule is significant when the subject of sentence is words like each, neither, either, one, everyone, everybody, anybody, anyone, nobody, somebody, someone, etc. For example:

  • Everyone likes ice cream. (Singular subject, Singular verb)

Rule 2: Compound Subjects

When subjects are joined by 'or' or 'nor', the verb must agree with the subject that is nearest to it. For example:

  • Neither the students nor the teacher wants the class to be cancelled. (Singular subject, Singular verb)
  • Neither the student nor his parents want him to fail. (Plural subject, Plural verb)

Rule 3: Subjects joined by 'And'

When two subjects are joined by 'and', they typically require a plural verb. For example:

  • The boy and his sister are at school. (Plural subject, Plural verb)

Rule 4: Collective Nouns

Collective nouns are usually considered singular as they represent a group as a single entity. For example:

  • The team has won the match. (Singular subject, Singular verb)

Rule 5: Quantity

For measurements or amounts representing a single entity or quantity, use a singular verb. For example:

  • Five hundred dollars is a huge amount to donate. (Singular subject, Singular verb)


Mastering subject-verb agreement is crucial for your grammar skills to avoid easily avoidable mistakes. It would require practice and attentive reading to be effortlessly enacting subject-verb agreement rules. This tutorial aimed at providing a comprehensive understanding and we hope it aids in your mastery of subject-verb agreement.

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