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Sub Verb Agreement 

Grade 5
Aug 27, 2022

Read the following sentences: 

  1. The lady is holding the little girl. 
  2. A girl is drinking something. 
  3. Two kids are dancing. 
  4. A boy is running with a plate . 

We know that the subject and the main action verb are connected by an auxiliary verb or a linking verb in most cases. The sentences above also inevitably follow that pattern.  

So, in sentence 3, the subject and the action verb are connected by the auxiliary verb are. 

In sentence 2, the subject and the action verb are connected by the auxiliary verb is

Similarly, the remaining sentences also use the linking or auxiliary verbs accordingly. 

In the sentences given above, the auxiliary verbs appear between the subject and the action verb. If we are asked to frame sentences, we tend to include auxiliary verbs in them. In the sentences given above, we knew that the subject two men is plural and should be followed by a plural verb, therefore we used are.  


Similarly, the remaining sentences also follow the same pattern.  


Well, that is because of the existence of a set of rules that make an agreement between the subject and the verb. To put it in simple words; the verb must agree with its subject. Now it is important to understand why these specific rules are followed during the construction of sentences.  

Basic rules that are to be followed so that the subject will be in agreement with the verb are: 

Rule 1: 

Read the sentences: 

  • The boy is crying. 
  • The boys are crying. 

Here, in the first sentence, the subject, the boy, is singular. Therefore, it is followed by a singular auxiliary verb is

In the second sentence, the subject, the boys, which is plural is followed by a plural auxiliary verb, are

In both the cases, we have the subjects agreeing with the verb in number. To put it simply, a singular subject takes a singular verb, and a plural subject takes a plural verb. This implies that it is only the subject that affects the verb, and nothing else matters. This is the cornerstone rule on which, the other rules are based.  

More examples: 

  • My book is missing. 
  • My books are missing. 
  • He doesn’t like ice-cream. 
  • They don’t like ice-cream. 

If the subject is singular, it is mandatory to add s, es, or ies at the end of the action verb in present tense. 


  • The star shines at night. 
  • The sun rises in the East. 
  • The cow gives us milk. 

If the subject is plural, we need not add anything at the end of the action verb in present tense. 


  • The stars shine at night. 
  • They like to go on treks. 
  • The cows give us milk. 

Rule 2: 

Read the sentence: 

  • John and Martha are good friends. 

Here, the two nouns as the subject, John and Martha, joined by the word and. Thus, we can easily comprehend that the subject in the sentence is plural, and therefore followed by a plural verb are

So, the second rule goes like: 

If two subjects are joined by and, then the verb takes a plural form. 

More examples: 

  • My father and mother are coming to pick me up. 
  • Gold and platinum are expensive jewelry. 
  • Liza and Joanna have agreed to sponsor the program. 

Now read the sentence: 

  • Spaghetti and cheese is my favorite food. 

Here, the subject that seems plural is followed by a singular verb, is. But in real, the idea conveyed here is singular, that of food.  

Therefore, we can say that if the nouns in the subject suggest a single idea, or implies to the same person or thing, the verb takes its singular form. 


  • Your success and failure is entirely based on your attitude alone. 
  • My sister and best friend has passed away. 
  • Time and tide waits for no man. 

Rule 3: 

Read the following sentence: 

  • Each boy and each girl was listening to the lecture attentively. 

While reading the sentence, you might have had the impression that the subject here is plural. Actually, no! It is considered singular and therefore is followed by a singular verb was. 

This is because: 

Two nouns in the subject when preceded by each or every should be followed by a singular verb even though they are connected by and. 


  • Each pen and each paper costs around $2. 
  • Every door was locked. 

Rule 4: 

The verb that follows words like either, neither, each, everyone, none or many a, should be singular. 


  • Neither of the judges was impressed by the performance. 
  • Tell me if either of them contacts you. 
  • Each of the essays is going to get published. 
  • Everyone of the boys likes to play soccer. 
  • None of the ice-creams tastes good. 

Rule 5: 

Titles of books, movies, and other similar works are always singular, even though they appear plural, they have to be followed by a plural verb. 


  • Gulliver’s Travels was written by Jonathan Swift. 
  • The Avengers is an amazing movie. 


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