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©2015 by Robin L.
Simmons.

Subject-Verb
Subject-Verb Agreement
Agreement

Do I need an
s at the end
of the verb?

Or should I
leave the s
off?

This presentation
covers maintaining
agreement
between subjects
and verbs.

A subject-verb agreement
item on an objective test
might look like this . . .

Sample
Sample Item
Item
The foods that provide
providegood
goodnutrition
nutritionisare
is
A
BB
often the least tasty; a hamburger and fries,
on the other hand, satisfy
satisfythe
thetongue
tonguebut
but
C
clog the arteries.
Does
Doesto be
Is
needs
Is
needs
to be
disagreement
disagreement
the
plural
,,
thehappen
plural are
are
at
happen
at B
which
option
which
option
B
provide
,, is
,, or
provide
is
or
fixes.
fixes.
satisfy
satisfy??

A.provides
B.are
are
C.satisfies
D.No change is necessary.

Agreement
Agreement in
in a
a Nutshell
Nutshell
The elephant
trumpets for a peanut.
elephant = singular subject
trumpets = singular verb

The elephants
trumpet for peanuts.
elephants = plural subject
trumpet = plural verb

In the present
tense, singular
verbs end in the suffix
s; plural verbs do
not.

Two
Two [or
[or more]
more] singular
singular nouns
nouns
joined
joined by
by and
and make
make a
a plural
plural
subject.
subject.
The chicken wing and pork rib sit
untouched on Ruth’s plate.

Because there’s no s
at the end of sit, you
know it’s a plural
verb.

When
When each
each or
or every
every precedes
precedes two
two
[or
[or more]
more] singular
singular nouns
nouns joined
joined by
by
and
and,, you
you have
have a
a singular
singular subject.
subject.
Every chicken wing and pork rib sits
untouched on Ruth’s plate.
Because there is
an s at the end of
sit, you know it’s a
singular verb.

In
In this
this situation,
situation, no
no matter
matter how
how many
many
singular
singular nouns
nouns you
you join
join with
with and
and,, the
the
subject
subject is
is still
still singular.
singular.
Every chicken wing, pork rib, slice of pepperoni pizza,
hotdog, hamburger, steak, and fried shrimp sits
untouched on Ruth’s plate.

X X
X

X X
X
I’m a
vegetarian!

Use
Use caution
caution with
with these
these three
three
conjunctions:
conjunctions: either
either …
… or
or,, neither
neither …

nor
nor,, and
and not
not only
only …
… but
but also
also..
Not only the boss
employees
but also
buther
also their
boss wish
wishes
the wish
shift
the shift
would
endwould
.end. end.
employees
thewould
shift

If you flip the two subjects,
You’ll have two subjects,
so that employees is next
but only the closer one — in
to the verb, then wish will
this case boss — counts!
work!

These
These indefinite
indefinite pronouns
pronouns are
are
always
always singular
singular [even
[even when
when they
they
seem
seem plural].
plural].




Each, either, neither
Anyone, anybody, anything
Everyone, everybody, everything
No one, nobody, nothing
Someone, somebody, something

Everyone
Everyone on
on Earth
Earth ==
more
more than
than one
one person
person

—billions
billions of
of people,
people, in
in
fact.
fact.
The
The word
word everyone
everyone,,
however,
however, is
is still
still
singular
singular..

Beware
Beware interrupting
interrupting phrases.
phrases.


As well as
Along with
Together with



Including
In addition to
Especially

The squirrel as well as the pigeons keep an
eye on Sammy, the sneaky cat.

Bad
kitty!

This sentence might
sound right, but it is
completely wrong!

Beware
Beware inverted
inverted word
word order.
order.
Here is the onions you need for the chili. In the
refrigerator is the jalapeño peppers you might
want to add.

Here and
there are
never the
subjects.

Cross through
prepositional
phrases to find
the real subject!

Quick
Quick Test
Test
Directions: In the items that follow, choose
the option that corrects an error in the
underlined portion(s). If no error exists, choose
“No change is necessary.”

Show me
what you
know.

Item
Item 1
1
In the cabinet is
is the
are
the
the
tools
tools
tools
that
that
that
you
you
you
will
will
will
need
need
need
to
toto
AA
unclog the bathroom sink; I have
have found
found that
that aa
B
plunger and a prayer often do
do the
the trick.
trick.
C
A.
are
A.are
B.has
C.does
D.No change is necessary.

Item
Item 2
2
Here are
are the
the books
books that
that Thomas
Thomas and
and Darlene
Darlene
A
need for their research, and here is
is the
are
the
the
earplugs
earplugs
earplugs
BB
that you’ll require once they both doze
doze off
off in
in
C
boredom and start snoring.
A.is
B.are
are
C.dozes
D.No change is necessary.

Item
Item 3
3
Jasmine and Rodney have
have decided
decided to
to double
double the
the
A
number of cupcakes that they are
are baking
baking since
since
B
everyone love
love moist
loves
moist
moistcake
cake
cakeand
and
andchocolate
chocolate
chocolatefrosting.
frosting.
frosting.
CC
A.has
B.is
C.loves
loves
D.No change is necessary.

Item
Item 4
4
Not only those students but also their professor
looksforward
look
look
forward
forwardto
totothe
the
thefinal
final
finalexam;
exam;
exam;everyone
everyone
everyonehas
has
has
AA
BB
exciting vacation plans that start
start next
next Monday.
Monday.
C
A.
looks
A.looks
B.have
C.starts
D.No change is necessary.

Item
Item 5
5
At the pet store, each iguana, mouse, and gerbil
tries
try
try
to
toto
climb
climb
climb
the
the
the
walls
walls
walls
of
ofof
its
itsits
glass
glass
glass
cage
cage
cage
while
while
while
AA
humans hover
hover outside
outside like
like giant
giant predators
predators who
who are
are
B
C
ready to strike.
A.
tries
A.tries
B.hovers
C.is
D.No change is necessary.

Item
Item 6
6
Tyrone, as well as his cousins, hope
hopes
hope that
that
thatGrandma
Grandma
Grandma
AA
brings
brings her
herfamous
famousbrownies
browniesand
andpeach
peachpie
piethat
that
B
drip
drip with
with generous
generous scoops
scoops of
of vanilla
vanilla ice
ice cream.
cream.
C
A.hopes
hopes
B.bring
C.drips
D.No change is necessary.

Item
Item 7
7
Either the dogs or the cat sleep
sleep on
sleeps
on
onthe
the
thebed
bed
bedwhile
while
while
AA
everyone is
is out;
out; Lorraine
Lorraine always
always finds
findsan
an
B
C
indentation in the center of her comforter.
A.
sleeps
A.sleeps
B.are
C.find
D.No change is necessary.

Item
Item 8
8
Meryl, together with her friends Beatrice and Laverne,
plans aa daily
plans
daily trip
trip for
for ice
ice cream,
cream, for
for these
these women
women
A
have discovered
have
discovered that
that the
the calories
calories is
is worth
are
worth
worth
seeing
seeing
seeing
B
CC
Theo scoop their servings with his muscular arms.
A.plan
B.has
C.are
D.No change is necessary.

Item
Item 9
9
The scissors are
are sharp,
sharp, so
so neither
neither the
the cousins
cousins nor
nor
A
Timmy is
is allowed
allowed to
to play
play with
with them,
them, even
even when
when the
the
B
boys needs
needstoto
need
tofinish
finish
finishaaaschool
school
schoolproject.
project.
project.
CC
A.is
B.are
C.need
need
D.No change is necessary.

Item
Item 10
10
Each fork, spoon, and knife are
is
scarred
from
the
arescarred
scarredfrom
fromthe
the
AA
disposal since Drew refuses
refusesto
tocheck
checkthe
thedrain
drain
B
before he throws
throwsthe
theswitch.
switch.
C
A.
is
A.is
B.refuse
C.throw
D.No change is necessary.

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subject-verb
agreement.
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The End.
Bad
kitty!