English Teachers and Students: Take 30% off your first order using promo code "FirstOrder" at checkout! View all worksheets here

How to teach Subject-Verb Agreement (with Examples)

Learning how to teach subject-verb agreement is essential for building clear and correct sentences in English. It’s about ensuring subjects and verbs match up, whether singular or plural. Through simple examples and fun activities, teachers can show students how to get this right. This can help to improve their speaking and writing by making their sentences sound natural and understandable. Keep reading to learn how to teach subject-verb agreement, with examples.

This resource will discuss effective techniques in teaching subject-verb agreement and include examples for better understanding.

View all of our Verb Worksheets

What is Subject-verb Agreement?

Subject-verb agreement is a basic grammar rule that makes sure the subject and the verb in a sentence match in number. This means if the subject is just one thing, the verb should also suggest just one thing (is singular), and if the subject is more than one thing, the verb should suggest more than one thing (is plural). This rule helps make sentences easy to understand.

Here are some examples:

Singular: The cat runs across the street.

Here, “cat” is a singular subject, so the verb “runs” is also singular.

Plural: The cats run across the street.

In this case, “cats” is a plural subject, so the verb “run” is also plural to match.

Who can benefit from learning the Subject-verb Agreement?

Anyone learning English can benefit from understanding subject-verb agreement! Let’s take a look at some specific groups that might find this knowledge particularly useful:

ESL Students

Those learning English as a second or additional language can greatly improve their writing and speaking clarity by mastering subject-verb agreement.

Students

From elementary school through college, students can enhance their grammar skills, leading to better grades in English and improved overall communication abilities.

Writers and Editors

Clear and correct writing is crucial for authors, journalists, content creators, and editors. Understanding subject-verb agreement helps ensure their work is grammatically accurate and easily understood by readers.

Non-Native Speakers

Individuals who speak English as a foreign language can benefit from learning subject-verb agreement to communicate more effectively in both personal and professional settings.

Job Seekers

Effective communication skills are highly valued in the job market. A solid grasp of subject-verb agreement can improve job candidates’ resumes, cover letters, and interview responses.

Teaching Subject-verb Agreement

Subject-verb agreement is a key grammar rule that makes sure the verb matches its subject in number. This means if the subject of a sentence is just one person, place, thing, or idea (singular), the verb that shows the action or condition must also suggest just one (be singular). But, if the subject talks about more than one (plural), then the verb must change to show that it’s about more than one (be plural).

This rule does more than make numbers match. It helps sentences be clear and easy to understand. For example, in “The dog barks,” ‘dog’ is just one, so ‘barks’ shows just one dog is barking. This keeps the sentence simple and straight to the point. On the other hand, when we talk about more than one dog, we say “The dogs bark.” Here, ‘dogs’ and ‘bark’ are both plural, showing that it’s about several dogs barking together.

And those are just the basics. We’re diving deeper into how Subject-verb Agreement is used in various types of subjects in the English Language!

Subject-verb Agreement used with Compound Subjects

When subjects are connected by “and,” they typically require a plural verb. Here’s an example:

However, when the compound subject forms a single idea or refers to the same person or thing, it takes a singular verb.

Subject-verb agreement used with Indefinite Pronouns

Pronouns such as “everyone,” “each,” “nobody” are singular and take singular verbs.

Pronouns like “several,” “few,” and “both” are plural and take plural verbs.

Subject-verb agreement used with Collective Nouns

Nouns that represent a group, like “team” or “family,” can take singular or plural verbs depending on whether the group performs the action as a whole (singular) or by individual members (plural).

Subject-verb Agreement used with There and Here Statements

When starting sentences with “there” or “here,” the verb agrees with the real subject that follows the verb.

How to teach subject verb agreement

Subject-verb Agreement used with Titles and Names

Titles of single entities (books, organizations) and names that are plural in form but singular in meaning take a singular verb.

How to teach subject verb agreement

Subject-verb Agreement used with Amounts

Sums of money, periods, distances, and units of measurement may take singular verbs, even if they seem plural.

How to teach subject verb agreement

Important Notes:

  • The verb must always agree with the subject, not with a noun or pronoun in the phrase.
  • Subject-verb agreement is essential for clarity and coherence in writing.
  • Careful attention to the subject and verb will help you avoid agreement errors.

Exercises for teaching Subject-verb Agreement

To completely grasp how Subject-verb Agreement works, here are some exercises that can be used in teaching them:

How to teach Subject-verb agreement Exercise 1: Matching type

Instructions: Match the subjects on the left with the correct verb form on the right. Each subject may have more than one correct match.
SubjectsVerbs
A. Each of the players1. are scattered
B. Neither John nor his friends2. has been published
C. The books on the shelf3. is interesting
D. The committee4. eats quickly
E. Somebody5. need sharpening
F. The teacher6. have disappeared
G. All the cookies7. loves camping
H. The news8. was discussed
I. Mathematics9. makes a decision
J. The scissors10. runs every morning
Answer key (for teachers)
A – 10. runs every morning (Each of the players runs every morning.)
B – 7. loves camping (Neither John nor his friends love camping.)
C – 6. have disappeared (The books on the shelf have disappeared.)
D – 9. makes a decision (The committee makes a decision.)
E – 4. eats quickly (Somebody eats quickly.)
F – 9. makes a decision (The teacher makes a decision.)
G – 6. have disappeared (All the cookies have disappeared.)
H – 2. has been published (The news has been published.)
I – 3. is interesting (Mathematics is interesting.)
J – 5. need sharpening (The scissors need sharpening.)

How to teach Subject-verb agreement Exercise 2: Fill in the Blanks

Instructions: Complete the sentences below by filling in the blanks with the correct form of the verb in parentheses.
1. The cat _____ on the windowsill every morning. (to sit)
2. All the students _____ their homework on time. (to complete)
3. The committee _____ on the new policy today. (to vote)
4. Either the teacher or the students _____ the mistake. (to make)
5. Neither the of the laptops _____ working properly. (to be)
6. Each of the players _____ a chance to win. (to have)
7. The dog, along with the cats, _____ peacefully. (to sleep)
8. The glasses _____ on the kitchen counter. (to be)
9. My brother and I _____ to the movies tonight. (to go)
10. Every book and magazine in this library _____ to be returned by next week. (to need)
Answer key (for teachers)
1. sits
2. complete
3. votes
4. make
5. are
6. has
7. sleeps
8. are
9. are going
10. needs

 

Final Thoughts on How to Teach Subject-Verb Agreement to Your Students

Proper subject-verb agreement can help anybody communicate more clearly and keep sentences from sounding awkward. It’s not just about following rules; it’s about making our ideas understood.

Embracing platforms like EnglishLearningByPro, which offers readily available and adaptable materials, allows teachers to personalize their teaching strategies according to each student’s unique needs. The ultimate goal is to empower students to easily master the use of verbs, enhancing their communication skills in the English language.

EnglishLearningByPro helps English teachers around the world better serve their students. Our English worksheets (Editable, Fillable, Printable PDFs) are perfect for English students (ESL, ESOL, ELL, and more) and teachers (TESOL, TESL, TEFL, and more). Our English worksheets can be downloaded and used for proficient English learning, giving you or your students the ability to fill them out on a digital device or print them out. If you have an English teaching business, add your listing free to let potential students find you. Thank you for supporting EnglishLearningByPro!

View all of our Verb Worksheets

John Bart
Author: John Bart

I am the co-owner of englishlearningbypro.com, a community built specifically for English teachers around the world trying to make a living teaching English. I have lived in Brazil for four years and had previously taught private English classes for three years. I am passionate about helping others, and making English teaching and learning easier.

Scroll to Top