Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Practice with 

Subject Verb Agreement


If you have followed the steps 1-3 in Simple Steps to Sentence Sense, it should be very easy for you to find the subject and the verb. Once you find them, you can be sure they agree in number. 

This means:  
If the subject is singular, the verb must be singular.
If the subject is plural, the verb must be plural. 

Singular means one person, place, or thing.  
For example: boy, city, tree.

Plural means more than one person, place, or thing. For example: boys, cities, trees 

The subject and the verb agree in this sentence: 
The leaves are brown and brittle.

The subject and the verb do not agree in this sentence: The leaves is brown and brittle. 

is=singular   are=plural  leaf=singular  leaves=plural

It will help if you remember that singular verbs end in an “s.”

After you find the subject, decide if it is singular or plural. If it is a singular subject, be sure the verb or the helping verb ends in s.

For example:

The children (is, are) going to the park.
The subject is “children.” The word “children” is plural, so choose the plural verb. The one that does not end in “s.”  
The children are going to the park. 

The child (is, are) going to the park.The subject is “child.” The word “child” is singular, so choose the singular verb. The one that ends in “s.”  

The child is going to the park. You can see how easy it is to make the subject and verb agree in number. 
That’s because the sentence would sound strange if you were to choose the wrong verb. 

For example, who would say: The dogs barks? That sentence would probably sound wrong to anyone who reads it.

Watch for these 3 special circumstances.

1.  Sometimes, however, it is not so easy to spot a subject/verb agreement error because a prepositional phrase located between the subject and the verb can fool you. 

For example:  
One of the dancers are more experienced. 
That sentence may not sound wrong, but it is. It has an error in subject and verb agreement. 

The word “dancers” is not the subject of the sentence because it is in a prepositional phrase. 

Remember that the subject of a sentence will never be found in a prepositional phrase. 

If we follow the steps and eliminate the prepositional phrase (of the dancers); find the verb (are) and then find the subject (one), it is easy to see that the subject is singular, but the verb is plural. 
One are

Now you can hear the error. 
Remember: If the subject is singular, you would need a verb that ends in s.

So the sentence should read: One of the dancers is more experienced.

2.  Sometimes the subject of the sentence is compound. 

Two or more subjects joined by the conjunction “and” take a plural verb. Apples and oranges are both delicious fruits.

If two or more subjects are joined by 
the conjunctions “or” or “nor,” make the verb agree with the subject nearer to it.

The minister or the choir members are riding on the bus.

The choir members or the minister is riding on the bus.

3.   If the subject follows the verb in a sentence (such as in sentences beginning with there or here), be especially careful to find the actual subject and verb and make them agree in number.

Remember: The words there and here are never the subject of the sentence.

Example: Here (is, are) the keys to our house.
The subject of this sentence is the word "keys."

Click here for more help with subject/verb agreement and a 20 question practice exercise with answers included. 

Thanks for reading!