English grammar is complicated, with rules for every situation. Mastering subject-verb agreement will help you form correct, clear sentences in your speech and writing. While some rules of subject-verb agreement may seem simple and obvious, others are more difficult and complex.
The Basics: Singular and Plural
The most basic rule of subject-verb agreement is that singular nouns (or subjects) must be accompanied by singular verbs, and plural nouns (or subjects) must be accompanied by plural verbs.
In the present tense, nouns add an -s to the end to become plural, while verbs subtract an -s from the end to become plural. For example:
Singular noun = cat, singular verb = takes GO Plural noun = cats, plural verb = take.
To add to this rule, singular subjects connected by the words \"or\" or \"nor\" require a singular verb. Two singular subjects connected by \"either/or\" or \"neither/nor\" also require a singular verb. For example:
The dog or cat prefers chewing on slippers. Either the cat or the dog eats my slippers every morning. Neither the cat nor the dog admits to any wrongdoing.
When the subject \"I\" is one of the two subjects in this scenario, put it second and follow it with the word \"am.\" For example:
Either the cat or I am going to have to leave today.
If the words \"either\" and \"neither\" are the subjects of the sentence, they use a singular noun. For example:
Either shoe is a good choice. Neither sandwich appeals to me.
Using Plural Verbs
When a singular subject is connected by either/or or neither/nor to a plural subject, put the plural subject last and use the plural verb. For example:
Neither my son nor my daughters play soccer.
When two singular subjects are connected by \"and,\" use a plural verb. For example:
A sandwich and a cookie are my favorite lunchtime treats.
Always use plural verbs with plural subjects. For example:
The apples grow every autumn.
Watch out for pronouns. The pronouns \"each,\" \"everyone,\" \"everyone,\" \"everybody,\" \"someone,\" \"somebody,\" \"anyone\" and \"anybody\" are all singular. Use singular nouns when these pronouns appear. For example:
Anybody who wishes to eat here is able to do so.
Expressions of amounts of time or sums of money should be accompanied by singular verbs. For example:
Six years is the maximum term for your car loan. Five thousand dollars is the minimum you will have to pay.
The personal pronouns \"I\" and \"you\" always use plural verbs. Other single personal pronouns use singular verbs. Plural pronouns use plural verbs. For example:
I dance well. You dance poorly. He dances well. She dances poorly. We dance well. They dance poorly.