Subject-Verb Agreement Definition, Examples and Questions

Subject Verb Agreement Exercises For Competitive Exams PDF

What is Subject-Verb Agreement?

Subject-Verb agreement refers to the logic of singular verb for singular subject and plural verb for plural subject, i.e. Subject and verb in a sentence must agree in numbers. To explain subject-verb agreement, let’s look at these examples:

1.Apple is in the basket. 2. Apples are in the basket.

In the first example, there is one apple, thus the verb (is) singular. In the second example, there is more than one apple (plural), thus the verb used (are) is plural.

However, in present tense, the opposite rule applies. i.e. Nouns add an s to the singular form and verbs remove an s from the singular form. For example, Child plays in the park flies in the sky and birds fly in the sky.

Subject-Verb Agreement Rules

There are 12 subject-verb agreement rules. To be able to use subject-verb agreement correctly in a sentence, one must understand these rules.

1. A phrase or clause between subject and verb does not change the number of the subject.

Eg 1: A pride of lions drinks water from the pond.

Explanation: Here, the pride of lions is the prepositional phrase. The verb drinks agrees with pride not lions.

2.Presence of infinite pronouns as subjects.

  • Singular indefinite pronoun subjects take singular verbs.

This condition applies to each, either, neither, someone, somebody, something, everyone, everybody, everything one, no one, nobody, nothing, anyone, anybody, anything.

Eg 1: Each student does homework on time.

Explanation: Here, infinite pronoun (each) is singular, so verb (does) is singular.

  • Plural indefinite pronoun subjects take plural verbs.

This condition applies to several, few, both, many

Eg 2: Both children go to school together.

Explanation: Here, infinite pronoun (children) is plural, so verb (go) is singular.

  • Some infinite pronouns may be either singular or plural like in case of countable or uncountable.

Eg 3: My hair is falling.

Explanation: Hair is uncountable, thus singular verb (is) has been used.

Eg 4: Some of the mangoes are raw.

Explanation: Mangoes are countable, thus plural verb (are) has been used.

3. Compound subjects joined by and are always plural.

Eg 1: A black pepper and chillies make food spicy.

Explanation: Black pepper and chillies are plural thus, the verb used (make) is plural.

4. With compound subjects joined by or/nor, the verb agrees with the subject nearer to it.

Eg 1: Neither the teacher nor the students are happy with the announcement.

Explanation: Teacher and students (plural), thus the verb used (are) is plural.

5. Inverted Subjects: The subject and verb must be in agreement.

Eg 1: There is only one letter in the mail box.

Explanation: Since subject (letter) is singular, the verb used (is) is also singular.

6. Collective noun may be singular or plural depending on meaning or usage.

Eg 1: The Indian cricket team has been playing well in the current tournament.

Explanation: Here, the subject (Indian cricket team) is singular so the verb used (has) is singular.

Eg 2: The Indian cricket team members have been playing well in the current tournament.

Explanation: Here, the subject (team members) is plural so the verb used (have) is plural.

7. Titles of single units are always singular.

Eg 1: War and Peace is written by Leo Tolstoy.

Explanation: Here, the subject (book name War and Peace) is singular, thus verb used (is) is singular.

8. Plural form subjects

Plural form subjects with singular meaning always take a singular verb.

Eg 1: Physics has so many tough topics.

Explanation: Here, subject (Physics) has singular meaning, thus verb used (has) is singular.

Plural form subjects with singular or plural meaning take a singular or plural verb, depending on meaning. 

Eg 1: Politics is an interesting topic to debate on.

Explanation: Here, the subject (politics) is used in singular term thus, the verb (is) used is single.

Eg 2: The politics of different countries are specific to their society.

Explanation: Here, the subject (politics) is used in plural form thus, the verb (are) used is plural

Plural form subjects with a plural meaning take plural verb.

Eg 1: My pink socks are wet.

Explanation: Here, the subject (socks) is in plural form thus, the verb (are) used is plural.

Eg 2: My pair of pink socks is wet.

Explanation: Here, the subject (pair) is in singular form thus, the verb (is) used is singular.

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9. In case of subject and subjective complement of different number, the verb always agrees with the subject.

Eg 1: My favourite food is burger and fries.

Explanation: Here, the subject (food) is in singular form thus, the verb (is) used is singular.

Eg 2: Burger and fries are my favourite food.

Explanation: Here, the subject (burger and fries) is plural thus, verb (are) used is plural.

10. For fractional expressions, sometimes singular and sometimes plural verbs are used, depending on the meaning.

Eg 1: A majority of the class 9 students was unhappy with extra class.

Explanation: Here, the fractional [removed]majority of the class 9 students) is the singular subject, thus verb (was) used is singular.

11. If the sentence has both positive and negative subjects and one is plural, the other singular, the verb should agree with the positive subject.

Eg 1: It is the implementation and not the ideas that is posing a problem.

Explanation: Here, the positive subject is (implementation) is singular, and negative subject (not the ideas) is plural, thus verb (is) used is singular.

12. In case of modifiers between a subject and its verb, modifiers must not confuse the agreement between the subject and its verb.

Eg 1: The doctor who was chosen among the group of professionals as the housing secretary, is not performing his responsibilities well.

Explanation: Here, the subject (doctor) is singular, thus the verb (is) used is singular.

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Subject-Verb Agreement Exercises with Answers

Q1. A group of students __ stopped from entering the college. was/were

Q2. Tina and Mary __ were playing in the mud right now. are/is

Q3. Not only the manager but the employees too __ a holiday for New Year. want/wants

Q4. My spectacles ___ broken. are/is

Q5. Pen and paper __ the only items required for writing. is/are

Q6. Two slices of toast and coffee __ my daily breakfast. is/are

Q7. Seema and Nidhi __ go to school everyday. does not/do not

Q8. The local hockey team __ disqualified from the annual tournament for cheating. was/were

Q9. Majority of the board members__ with the CEO. agrees/agree

Q10. Neither I, nor my mother __ to go out in rain. like/likes

Q11. Most of the Indian food items __ turmeric. have/has

Q12. Tim is the only student who __ completed the project on time. has/have

Q13. For admission to the Zumba class, every student __ to fill a registration form. need/needs

Q14. One of my friends __ Masters in Biotechnology. is/are

Q15. This year every student __ that the school will reopen. hopes/hope

Q16. Bread and omelet __ my favourite breakfast. is/are

Q17. The football team __ new workout regime and equipment. want/wants

Q18. The political party, which is in majority in the parliament, __ support from the Opposition on important bills. expect/expects

Q19. Rahul and Richa plan to get married in summer but Richa’s family__ it to happen in winter. wants/want

Q20. Among all the children in my family, only my son __ like milk. don’t/doesn’t

Q21. Politics of US, UK and Russia __ vastly different from each other. is/are

Q22. A large number of voters still __ basis their party allegiance and not the candidate. votes/vote

Q23. Seven years __ a long time to live away from home. is/are

Q24. My four-year stint at the university __ very helpful in my personal growth. was/were

Q25. The economics of this country __ to be in a disarray. seems/seem


Q1. was Q2. are Q3.  want Q4.are Q5are Q6. is not Q8.was Q9. agree Q10. like Q11. have Q12has Q13. needs Q14. is Q15. hopes Q16. is Q17. wants Q18. expects Q19. wants Q20. don’t Q21. are Q22. vote Q23. is Q24. was Q25. seems

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