Language Focus: Subject-Verb-Agreement
English Level: Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced
Worksheet Download: subject-verb-agreement-worksheet.docx
If the subject of a sentence (e.g. "I") doesn't match the verb (e.g. "are"), we say that the subject and the verb don't agree. In other words, you have a subject-verb-agreement mistake (SVA), which is a common mistake for English language learners.
I made the above worksheet for my college students in an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program. Students, you can do the practice exercises below.
A Review of Subject Verb Agreement Rules
In English, if the subject of a verb is the third-person singular (He/She/It), then the verb will have an 's' at its end. Here's an example with the verb like:
- I like it. (First person singular)
- You like it. (Second person singular)
- He likes it / She likes it / It likes it. (Third person singular)
- We like it. (First person plural)
- They like it. (First person plural)
- You like it. (First person plural)
This is the rule for all verbs (jump/walk/read/etc).
With the BE Verb, the first person singular is changed to 'am' (present) and 'was' (past), and the third person singular becomes 'is' (present)' and 'was' (past). See the table below.
|BE - present||BE - past|
Singular & Plural?
A singular noun is just one thing. It is a single thing. Here are singular nouns in the third person:
- A dog (is ...)
- A candle (burns ...)
- The boy (has...)
- The world (turns...)
Uncountable nouns also use the same verbs as singular nouns. For example:
- Love (is...)
- Wine (tastes...)
- The water in the lake (feels...)
A plural noun is more than one thing. These plural subjects are the same as "They".
- Dogs (are...)
- Two candles (burn...)
- The boys (have...)
- People (live...)
Two singular nouns connected by AND makes a plural subject.
- The man and the woman live here. (The man + the woman = they)
- The reason she came here and the reason I came here are different. (two reasons = they)
Advanced Rules with Subject Verb Agreement
Here are some hints for the advanced exercises:
1. The closest word to the verb is not always the subject.
- The leader of the students has long hair.
The head noun of the phrase is "The leader." The prepositional phrase "of the students" modifies the subject. The full subject is The leader of the students. Is the subject singular or plural? It's singular (one), and the third person (the leader = she/he).
- The bird in the trees was beautiful.
Similarly, the subject is the bird in the trees. This is one thing, so the verb will be 'was', not 'were'.
- The man who bought a hundred houses is rich.
Again, the subject is 'The man (who bought a hundred houses)'. To find the subject, just look at the verb and ask yourself (what) is rich? The answer is the man (not the houses) is rich.
2. In inverted sentences, the verb agrees with the noun that comes after it.
An inverted sentence is when the subject comes after the verb. For example:
- There is a problem. (verb = is , singular subject = a problem)
- Here are your glasses. (verb = are, plural subject = your glasses)
- Now comes the difficult part. (verb = comes, singular subject = the difficult part)
- How important are the price, location, and size? (verb = are, plural subjects = price/location/size)
3. Everyone/Someone/Anyone/No one/etc are singular subjects.
Everyone refers to every single person. These subjects agree with a verb in the third-person singular form.
- Everyone is hungry.
- Somebody lives here.
4. Phrases in parentheses () or between commas are not part of the subject.
- The man, in addition to his daughter, lives here. (subject = the man)
- The man (in addition to his daughter) lives here. (subject = the man)
There are several other rules as well that are not listed above. Try the exercises below and if you have any questions, please leave a comment.
Subject Verb Agreement Exercises
Subject Verb Agreement - Beginner
- My teacher funny. He to tell jokes. I think his jokes funny, and my friends . Most of the students in my class boys. There not many girls in my school who my age. It weird. My friend a girlfriend. My parents always me if I have a girlfriend, by my answer always “No.”
Subject Verb Agreement - Intermediate
- Everyone problems in life. Countries also problems, and so the world. One of the greatest problems the growing population. The population in some countries huge. Both India and China populations of over one billion people. Both growing, too.
- A few of my friends cars. One of my friends rich. Much of his money from his parents. His parents three companies that products. I don't know what kind of products the companies with or who their customers .
Subject Verb Agreement - Advanced
- A number of my friends riding bicycles, but neither my brother nor my sister a bicycle. At 4 o'clock, either my mother or father coming to pick me up (in a car).
- The pair of shoes on the floor mine. The shoes made in Italy. The 300 dollars I spent on them worth it.
- Finding a job where you can learn new skills a lot of effort. I have been looking for six months. Six months a long time. Not even one company that I applied to responded.
- A lot of chicken eaten in America. As a consequence, a lot of chickens raised on farms. I know this because I study agriculture and economics. In fact, economics my favourite subject. I think that it, along with agriculture, fascinating.
- A photograph of two children on the desk. Outside, there people and a cat on the street. Sitting on the roof of a building a big crow.
- How useful this website and many other free ones for studying English ! This website (which I think is better than some others) founded in 2011.
Find a mistake? Have a question? Leave a comment below.
-- Subject Verb Agreement Worksheet & Exercises created by Matthew Barton (copyright) of Englishcurrent.com
I started with advance and still didn’t have a single mistake
Undoubtedly, very helpful to over come atleast insensible grammar mistakes.
Pay attention to the use of singular and plural
Very useful! Apparently now this is teaching standard. My teacher show this to us
really a awesome exercise. I don’t have anything to say . but reality it is very much good exercise. nice exercise it is very helpful and thankful for me . I have understand very well. thankyou very very much . again thanks…………………………………………………
A lot of chickens—— are is the answer. Though I cannot understand that how can we write are with a loy.
With quantifiers that indicate portion, such as ‘a lot, a majority, some, all‘ the verb will agree with the noun that comes after the quantifier. This is why we say ‘a lot of people have’ and not ‘a lot of people has’. English is fun, isn’t it? :)
Your right, but I never passed any of the tests, I mean, I maked at least one mistake in the question answers.
Yes it helped to correct the mistakes, but it pointed out the mistakes, making it very easy to change the answers.
Rishita (From Anonymous)
I would say that this quiz is that hard for me, because I know proper verb to be use. For me to be able to answer if it is “is” ar “are” , “w/s” or ” without s”. I looked at the noun if it is plural or singular also if it is present or past. I know to my self that identifying the write word not easy because there’s things I didn’t know.
A very nice site, it helps me to more learn.
This exercises are not easy but I know this will have a big help for me to enhance my skills in English.
Some sentences made me confused but I know, this quiz will make me better understand all about the topic.
This quiz really made me think critically. There are some choices that made me think that it is correct but it was not. It test my skills in construction of sentences.
I can say that this quiz is hard but it is also a big help for me to develop my skills in constructing sentences.
Those exercises are fun to answer. It is so useful for me to improve my grammar more.
These exercises really tested my knowlegde
about SVA.It was nice and very beneficial.I enjoyed answering it.
It’s was really helpful for me I’m in 8th standard and my exams starts from tomorrow
This exercise is really helpful.
Very challenging and I like that :) Thank you
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This test was great, I had an amazing experience with it and I won’t doubt it if it helps most people with their grammar
it’s really helpful for me
It is really helpful but if all the rules have been described so far it becomes more better for attempting.
My brain squeezed a little bit.Confusing but it is useful and challenging.I love it.
It was a good diagnostic test, it really helps me a lot to read and understand the sentence. Thank you and Godbless
1.The writing of good essays need/needs creativity.
requires (see here: https://www.englishcurrent.com/grammar/difference-need-require-verbs/)
I makes 2-3 mistakes in every subject verb agreement as beginner, intermidiate or Advance.
I think, I have to be practice more.
Loving this website so far!
It’s great for practice, and I really like how you categorized the difficulty level for the exercises :)
Thanks a lot. This exercise is very helpful to me . I gained knowledge from this exercise also it will help me while writing a paragraph on any topic .
How comes “A lot of chicken is eaten in America” and then “a lot of chickens are raised on farms”?
The first sentence talks about meat (an uncountable noun) and the second talks about an animal (countable noun).
Got it! Thank you ,sir.
It’s a nice test . It increases my vocabulary.
I like this article it is extremely awesome and also easy.
This kind of test are the best form to learn for my skills in English.
Very nice exercise. But it would be better if you show why my answer is wrong also.
Beneficial exercise! But I have one question- Reema as well as Toby _ playing chess (love). what qill be the answer? add an explanation too, please!
Love. It is a plural subject (Reema as well as Toby = they).
the website is very good and benefit for me.
thanks a lot.
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This was an amazing test it really helped me in my language and reading test thank you.
You are beginning middle and my end!
wow it really great..this grammar exercise make my grammar more better than before…