Subject verb agreement simply means the subject and verb must agree in number. This means both need to be singular or both need to be plural.
Subject/Verb Agreement Examples
Here are some examples of subject verb agreement (the subject is bolded and the verb underlined):
- My dog always growls at the postal carrier.
- Basketballs roll across the floor.
- I don’t understand the assignment.
- These clothes are too small for me.
- Peter doesn’t like vegetables.
Compound subjects (two subjects in the same sentence) usually take a plural verb, unless the combination is treated as singular in popular usage or the two subjects refer to the same thing or person. Here are some examples of subject verb agreement with compound subjects:
- Sugar and flour are needed for the recipe.
- Neither my dad nor my brothers know how to ski.
- Pepperoni and cheese are great on a pizza.
- Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional meal in Ireland. (popular usage)
- The creator and producer is arriving soon. (both refer to same person)
When using “or” or “nor” in a compound subject containing a singular and plural subject, the verb agrees with the closest subject. Examples of compound subjects using or, neither-nor, or either-or include:
- My mom or dad is coming to the play. (singular)
- Neither gray nor white is my favorite color. (singular)
- Either Grandpa or my sisters are going to the park. (closest subject is plural)
- Either my sisters or Grandpa is going to the park. (closest subject is singular)
- Neither she nor I am going to college. (closest subject is singular)
Singular Indefinite Pronouns
Here are some examples of subject verb agreement with singular indefinite pronouns:
- Each gets a trophy for playing.
- Somebody will pay for this.
- Anybody is more fun than you.
- Something is very wrong here.
- Everybody enjoys a good book.
- Nothing has been determined as of yet.
Plural Indefinite Pronouns
Here are some examples of subject verb agreement with plural indefinite pronouns:
- Both are qualified for the job.
- Many went to the beach and got sunburned.
- Few know what it really takes to get ahead.
- Several are already on location.
- Some sugar is required for taste. (sugar is uncountable so singular verb used)
- Most of the cookies were eaten. (cookies are countable so plural verb used)
Midsentence Phrase or Clause
Here are some examples of subject verb agreement with a phrase or clause between the subject and verb:
- A theory of physics ascertains that a body in motion stays in motion.
- A virus in all the company’s computers is a real threat to security.
- The causes of this prevalent disease are bad diet and lack of exercise.
- The couch and chair I got at the store look really nice in here.
- The members of the choir are very happy with the performance.
Collective nouns can be singular or plural depending on meaning. Here are some examples of subject verb agreement with collective nouns:
- The committee meets here every Thursday. (singular)
- The crowd is getting angry. (singular)
- The jury has finally reached a decision. (singular)
- The majority rules most of the time. (plural)
- The staff have gone their separate ways for the holidays. (plural)
Here are some examples of subject verb agreement with inverted subjects where the subject follows the verb:
- There are seven clean plates in the dining room.
- There is a hair in my lasagna.
- Over the rainbow flies a bird.
- How are the employees enjoying the new building?
- A good gift is a gift card.
Subject/verb agreement is essential to ensure that a sentence is grammatically correct. To learn more and see more examples, check out these articles - 20 Rules of Subject Verb Agreement and Subject Verb Agreement.