Subject Verb Agreement Basic Rules Examples

Subject-verb agreement is an essential aspect of the English language that is often overlooked. It is the matching of the subject of a sentence with its verb in terms of number and person. When the subject and verb of a sentence do not agree, it can lead to confusion in communication and a lack of clarity in writing. In this article, we will examine some basic rules and examples of subject-verb agreement to help you navigate this important aspect of grammar.

Basic Rules of Subject-Verb Agreement

1. The verb must agree with the subject in terms of number. When the subject is singular, the verb must be singular, and when the subject is plural, the verb must be plural. Example: “The cat sleeps on the mat” (singular subject and verb), “The cats sleep on the mats” (plural subject and verb).

2. Collective nouns are treated as singular or plural depending on the context. Example: “The team wins the game” (singular subject and verb), “The team are celebrating their victory” (plural subject and verb).

3. When the subject consists of two or more nouns joined by “and,” the verb is usually plural. Example: “John and Jane are going to the park” (plural subject and verb).

4. When the subject consists of two or more singular nouns joined by “or” or “nor,” the verb is singular. Example: “Neither John nor Jane likes coffee” (singular subject and verb).

5. When the subject consists of a singular noun and a plural noun joined by “or” or “nor,” the verb should agree with the noun closest to it. Example: “Neither the dog nor the cats like to be left alone” (plural subject and verb).

6. When the subject is a singular indefinite pronoun (such as anyone, everyone, someone), the verb is singular. When the subject is a plural indefinite pronoun (such as both, few, many), the verb is plural. Example: “Everyone is invited to the party” (singular subject and verb), “Both of the athletes are talented” (plural subject and verb).

Examples of Subject-Verb Agreement

1. The students study hard for their exams. (plural subject and verb)

2. The bookshelf in the corner of the room is made of wood. (singular subject and verb)

3. The committee is discussing the proposed changes. (singular subject and verb)

4. My sister and I want to go on vacation together. (plural subject and verb)

5. The box of chocolates was passed around the room. (singular subject and verb)

6. Either the orange juice or the apple juice is available for breakfast. (singular subject and verb)

7. Neither the tea nor the coffee is hot anymore. (singular subject and verb)

8. Both the students and the teacher are excited about the field trip. (plural subject and verb)

9. Someone has left their umbrella in the foyer. (singular subject and verb)

10. Few people realize the importance of recycling. (plural subject and verb)


Subject-verb agreement is an important aspect of grammar that can greatly impact the clarity and effectiveness of your writing. By following these basic rules and examples, you can ensure that your writing is grammatically correct and easy to understand. Remember to always match the subject of a sentence with its verb in terms of number and person, and pay attention to certain exceptions, such as collective nouns and indefinite pronouns. With practice, you can become proficient in subject-verb agreement and write with confidence and clarity.