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Subject verb agreement

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easy way to learn subject-verb agreement

easy way to learn subject-verb agreement

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  • 1. Basic SUBJECT – VERB AGREEMENT Written By: Mr. Joel D. Aldrich
  • 2. I got a hold of some bad pork chops the other day, and they didn't agree with me. Stomach aches aren't very pleasant. Don't you agree ?
  • 3. The subject and verb must agree in number: both must be singular, or both must be plural. Problems occur in the present tense because one must add an -s or -es at the end of the verb when the subjects or the entity performing the action is a singular third person: he, she, it , or words for which these pronouns could substitute.
  • 4. Notice the difference between singular and plural forms in the following examples: Singular Plural The student sings . Your children sing. (He or she sings) (They sing) The bird does migrate. Those birds do migrate. (It does) (They do)
  • 5. In order to find out if your subject and verb agree, you need to be able to identify the subject of your sentence. Here are some helpful hints that will help you to decipher where your subject is and where it is not.
    • We all know these meanings of "agree," but when we talk about subject-verb agreement, we're talking about something different: matching subjects and verbs according to number. That is, when you have a singular subject, you have to match it with a singular verb form: The boy plays . When you have a plural subject, you must have a plural verb form: The boys play .
  • 6. In short, simple sentences, you should have no problem with agreement. You can hear the problem: The boys plays . When it's wrong , it just sounds funny. However, there are four potential problem spots that you need to watch carefully:
    • stuff in between the subject and verb
    • reversed sentence order
    • "-body," "-one," and "-thing" words
    • "who," "which," and "that"
  • 7. Stuff in between subjects and verbs
    • The stuff here is usually a prepositional phrase that separates the subject from the verb. Remember how we crossed out prepositional phrases in order to find the subject? Do the same thing if you're having problems with agreement. Now, thinking about that, look at the following sentence and decide what's wrong with it:
  • 8. The dishes in the kitchen is dirty.
    • Good guess! The subject and the verb don't agree. What's the probable cause for the problem? Kitchen (a singular noun) is right in front of is (a singular verb). If kitchen were the subject, that would be okay. But, it's not. Cross out the prepositional phrase and you're left with:
  • 9.
    • The dishes in the kitchen is dirty.
    • "The dishes . . . is dirty?"
    • Sounds wrong, doesn't it? The subject is plural , but the verb is singular . They don't agree. The correct version is:
    • The dishes in the kitchen are dirty.
    • Once you know how to look for this problem, it shouldn't be too hard to get rid of it when you proofread your paper.
  • 10. Reversed sentence order The normal pattern for English sentences is subject-verb. However, there are a few situations where this order is reversed ( like this sentence ):
  • 11. There are snacks on the laundry-room table. Where are they ? On the table are the goodies !
    • See how the subject comes after the verb in each of these? If you can remember how to locate subjects and verbs, you shouldn't blunder into mistakes when writing reversed-order sentences.
  • 12. NOTE: Verb + -s / -es = third person singular in the simple present tense. Noun + -s / -es = plural noun.
    • Examples:
        • My friend lives in Boston.
        • My friends live in Boston.
  • 13. NOTE: A prepositional phrase that comes between a subject and a verb does not affect the verb
    • Examples:
        • That book on political parties is interesting.
        • The ideas in that book are interesting.
  • 14. NOTE: Two (or more) subjects connected by and take a plural verb.
    • Example:
        • My brother and sister live in Boston.
    • Exception:
        • Every and each are always followed immediately by singular nouns.
    • In this case, even when there are two (or
    • more) nouns connected by and , the verb is
    • singular .
  • 15. Examples:
    • Every man , woman , and child needs love.
    • Each book and magazine is listed in the card catalog.
  • 16. NOTE: A gerund used as the subject of a sentence takes a singular verb.
    • Example: Growing flowers is her hobby.
  • 17. Credits
    • Mr. Joel D. Aldrich
    • BA Elementary English
    • www.aliscot.com/bigdog/ agreement _sv.htm
    [email_address] http://amerenglish.tripod.com

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