Grammar is not an inherently exciting subject. Most high school students would rather do just about anything else than learn the intricacies of a sentence's construction. Nonetheless, you can make a lesson on subject-verb agreement fun with an unconventional approach. Find complex examples of subject-verb agreement for your high school students, and come up with some activities that will have them enjoy discussing singulars and plurals.
An important aspect of learning subject-verb agreement is learning to identify subjects and verbs in sentences. Bring in a stack of magazines and have your high schoolers look through them. Have each student find one article that he finds interesting. Ask students to read the article and to identify one singular subject and verb, one plural subject and verb and one compound subject. You can also have them find sentences that contain some of the trickier subjects, such as "none," "all" and any subject that contains a measurement.
Hosting a fake game show can be an exciting way to teach subject-verb agreement. Set up a chart on the board with a few categories, such as "Singular Pronouns," "Plural Verbs" and "Difficult Subjects." Assign point values to each question in the categories based on their difficulty. Ask a question out loud, such as, "True or false: The subject 'nobody' takes a singular verb." Let the first student to raise his hand answer. The student with the most points at the end of the game wins.
Sentences containing blanks that students have to fill in offer a teaching opportunity that encourages creativity. Come up with a variety of sentences with either the subject or the verb missing. Have students use their knowledge to determine what type of subject or verb should be inserted. Allow students to come up with funny and crazy subjects and verbs, as long as they are grammatically correct. Have students read their hilarious completed sentences out to the class. Ask other students to identify any mistakes.
Although it might defy what you would expect, having students create grammatically incorrect sentences can help them learn the rules of subject-verb agreement. After all, to break a rule intentionally, you have to know the rule in the first place. Have each student write a short paragraph containing a variety of subject-verb errors. Have students exchange their paragraphs and correct the mistakes in a classmate's work.
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images