Subject Verb Agreement

Subjects and verbs have to get along; that means they must agree in number.

If a subject is singular, that means it will take the singular form of a verb.

Verbs are conjugated or broken down to agree with the subject of the sentence. The subject can be a noun or a pronoun.

If a verb has not been broken down, it is said to be in its infinitive. The word ‘to’ often comes before a verb in its infinitive.

Just because a form of the verb ends in ‘s’, it can still be in a singular form.

Conjugate the following verbs.

To drive To be To have


Example – The hungry wolf at the zoo eats a ton of food!

Wolf is singular, so the correct conjugated form of to eat is eats. Eats is not plural, it is just the way that verb is broken down.

Explain this one.

Children who misbehave in class are sent to ISS.

Certain rules apply when the subject is compound – more than one.

******If the subject is compound, and each subject is singular, and the subjects are joined by ‘or’ or ‘nor’, then a singular form of the verb is used.

Example – Either the cat or the dog is hyper today.

Cat is singular.Dog is singular. ‘Is’ is the singular form of the verb.

‘Or’ appears in the sentence.

Explain – Neither the pen nor the paper is on my desk.

Neither dad nor mom walks to work in the winter.

******If the compound subjects are singular, and they are joined by the word ‘and’, use the plural form of the verb.

Example – The plate and the cup are on the kitchen table.

Plate is singular. Cup is singular. The word ‘and’ is used, so ‘are’ must be used because it is the plural form of the verb.

****** If one subject is singular, and one subject is compound, and the words ‘or’ or ‘nor’ are used, you must look at the subject that is closest to the verb to decide which form should be used.

Example–Based on the test scores, either the man or the women have an advantage.

Man is singular – does not matter.

Women is plural, and that part of the compound subject is closest to the verb, so the plural form of the verb is used.

Explain – Either the players or the coach is responsible for the loss.

An aide or teachers are always with the students in the lounge.

****** If a compound subject consists of two plural subjects and they are joined by ‘and’, a plural form of the verb is used.

Example – Tables and desks are moved to accommodate a large crowd.

Explain – Boys and girls share the large gym in the morning.


Sometimes a compound subject that is joined by ‘and’ may appear as plural, but it is considered singular. When the two items can be considered one thing, use the singular form of the verb.

Example – Cake and ice cream is a party favorite.

Spaghetti and meatballs is for dinner tonight.


If the words ‘every’ or ‘each’ appear before the subject, use the singular form of the verb.

Example – Every man and woman from the picnic is at the relay race.

The word ‘every’ modifies the subjects, so ‘is’ is used.

Explain – Each boy and girl is responsible for his or her work.