Why Is Subject-Verb Agreement Important?

by Hannah Winer

To communicate clearly in the English language, you must match a singular subject with a singular verb and a plural subject with a plural verb. To determine what verb to use with a singular or plural subject, substitute "he" or "they" for the subject.

Add an "S"

Often, singular verbs end in "s" and plural verbs do not. For example, "She plays" vs. "They play." The first person, "I," however is different and would be "I play."

Two Singular Subjects

When you have two subjects that are singular and linked by "or" the sentence will use a singular verb. If two subjects, both singular or both plural, are connected by "and," use a plural verb.

Singular and Plural Subjects

With one singular and one plural subject, place the plural subject after the singular and choose a plural verb to match.

Group Nouns

With nouns that indicate a group, like "family," or "crowd," the verb depends on the context. A noun meant to convey a singular entity needs a singular verb, such as "Her family eats dinner." However, when the noun implies individuals, use a plural verb, like "The family are going their separate ways."

First Person

With two subjects linked by "or" and one is an "I," the "I" should go after the first subject, and the verb should be singular.

About the Author

Hannah Winer is an after school teacher for elementary school students. She also tutors kindergarten through 8th-graders in reading and math. Winer earned a Bachelor of Arts in comparative literature from Hamilton College, where she furthered her love for writing about all subjects and developed meticulous research and analytical skills.

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