13 rules of subject verb agreement

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1
Subject-Verb Agreement
A “grammar help worksheet” by Abbie Potter Henry
(Subjects are in bold typeface and verbs are underlined)
Subject-Verb Agreement means that subjects and verbs must always agree in number.
Not only does a verb change its form to tell time, but it also can change its form to indicate how
many subjects it has.
For example, take the verb “run.” When we are in the present tense, the verb “run”
changes form to show that its subject is singular when its subject is anything but “I” or “you.”
Study the following chart.
Singular Subjects Plural Subjects
First Person: I run. We run.
Second Person: You run. You all run.
Third Person: He runs. She runs. The boy runs. They run.
Did you notice that in the third person singular, an “s” was added to the verb form? The
fact is that all present tense verbs have an “s” added to them when the subject is third person
singular.
Think for a moment about the verbs, walk, run, eat, sleep, try, study, and work. Now,
give these verbs the subject “I.” I walk; I run; I eat; the pronoun “I” is the only word that can
be a first person subject; likewise, the word “you” is the only word that can be a second person
subject. The present tense verb for you remains the same as for “I.” You walk; you run; you eat.
However, when we change the subject “I or “you to he,” or the cat,” we must add an
“s.” to each verb. The cat walks; the cat runs; the cat eats; etc. This is a simple rule that most of
us automatically use without even thinking, and it applies to every singular third person verb in
the entire English language, from walk/walks to run/runs to laugh/laughs to cry/cries. This also
includes the helping verbs do/does, is/are, and has/have.
While we are not likely to write or speak the following sentences: I walks; They walks;
The cat walk, if we do, we create a Subject-Verb Agreement Error.
Subject-Verb Agreement Errors are very serious and signal that the writer does not
have mastery over the English Language. Thus, it is important that writers understand the
following thirteen different situations that might cause subject-verb agreement errors. Because
of these special situations, there are thirteen corresponding rules to ensure that our subjects and
verbs always agree in number.
Once you have gone over these 13 rules and written your own example sentences, you
can practice your skill on the website Chompchomp.com. Once on the website, go to “Exercises
and find “Subject-Verb Agreement.” Have fun and keep writing.
13 Rules of Subject-Verb Agreement
1. Two or more subjects joined by “and” are considered plural and require a verb form
without an “s.”
a. Example: Jan, John, and Bob walk to the store.
Bob and his brothers walk to the store.
Create your own examples here:
2. If a subject is modified by the words “each” or “every” that subject is singular and will
take a verb form that ends in “s.
a. Example: Each boy and girl walks to the store.
Create your own examples here:
3. If plural subjects are joined by “or,” “nor, or “but,” the verb must only agree with the
subject that is closest to it.

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