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Subject-Verb Agreement

Teacher/Instructor Katie Aquino
Katie Aquino

Writing, Grammar, Literature, ACT Prep
Education: M.Ed.,Stanford University

Katie is an enthusiastic teacher who strives to make connections between literature and student’s every day lives.

Subjects and verbs must agree in number. Multiple subjects must be joined by "and", "or", or "nor". Learn more ways to figure out which verbs must be used with singular and plural subjects.

Alright, now we are talking subjects and verbs, really getting into the sentences and the one thing we've got to know about subjects and verbs is that they have to agree in number. So you've got to decide do you have a singular or a plural subject and if so, what kind of verb do you need with it and you've got to match it up. So you've got "she is", "she" is singular, "is" is the singular form of the "to be" verb so those two fit together. The same way that we conjugate then "they are", so we switch to they are because "they" is plural, "are" is obviously plural as well.
A couple tricks here; this seems pretty simple as you have it but when you get multiple subjects it starts to get a little bit confusing, so one thing to know is that you've got multiple subjects like "she" and "I", then if they are joined by the word "and" you're going to take the plural form of the verb. If you've got multiple subjects joined by the word "or" or the word "nor", then you're going to change it to singular, so that's kind of just a trick of the trade to know when you get to those multiple subjects.
Also, and these I always find to be the most tricky even now, I have to kind of sit down and take my time when I'm writing, when you've got the indefinite pronouns that are up here; each, each one, either, neither, everyone, everybody, anybody, anyone, nobody, somebody, someone and no one, those are always going to take the singular. So it sometimes takes a little bit of memorization but when you get those indefinite pronouns really think about how many people you would actually be referring to if the nouns were there in place of the pronouns and that will help you make that singular decision.
So if we take a look at these sentences, "I hope the cubs and the giants make it to the playoffs." I've got a compound subject here, right? I've got the cubs and the giants, they are joined by the word "and" so if we pay attention to our trick that we talked about then we know that the verb make needs to be in the plural form because we've got two subjects joined by "and". Alright, "My friends and I are going to Wrigley Field." same thing there, we've got my friends and I so we know they are joined by "and" they've got to take the plural verb, alright?
Let's take a look at some fill in the blank examples then and see if we can melt this down. So we've got, some blank this will be the year for the cubs, who blank, there blank always next year. So we've got to take a look at what form of the verbs are going to fit here and so we've got our subject "some" alright, and we want to fill in here, "some say" because we've got a plural subject here, so we want a plural form of the word say, "This will be the year for the cubs, who knows?" Alright, spoken like a true cubs fan, right? So we've got "who" which is one of those again, it's an interrogative pronoun that can also be used, considered an indefinite pronoun because you don't really know who fills in the blank there so we've got to make these two agree in number. And then finally, when we use this word "there" it's always going to be followed, "There is always next year," so we've got to actually look down here, we're talking about a singular next year so we want to make this match up because "there" is actually the pronoun standing in for next year so we've got to make the "is" a singular verb. So there you go; subjects and verbs agree in number, just take your time and really think about some of those tricks we talked about especially when it comes to those indefinite pronouns.