What is subject-verb agreement?

In a sentence, the form of the verb changes, or is conjugated, to reflect the relationship between the subject and the action being performed. To bring the subject and verb into agreement, they must correspond in number (singular or plural) and person (first, second, or third).

How can the subject and verb be made to agree?

  • Locate the subject of your sentence: Who or what is the sentence about? Who is the “doer” in the sentence?
    • The author of this article clearly makes her point to the target audience.
  • Next, locate the verb (or verb phrase): What action is taking place, or what state of being verb is used?
    • The author of this article clearly makes her point to the target audience.
  • Determine whether the subject is singular or plural—a singular subject takes a singular verb; a plural subject takes a plural verb.
    • The author suggests that recycling can be beneficial to the environment.
    • The authors suggest that recycling can be beneficial to the environment.
  • Collective nouns (which refer to a collection or group serving as a unit), clauses, or phrases are considered singular subjects that take a singular verb.
    • My family likes to visit museums.
  • A compound subject (subjects joined by and) takes a plural verb.
    • Authors and researchers often work in more than one discipline.
  • When the subject is joined by or, nor, either/or, or neither/nor, the verb should agree with the subject word closest to the verb.
    • Neither the instructor nor the studentslook at the clock during class.
    • Neither the students nor the instructorlooksat the clock during class.