3 Basic Rules of Subject Verb Agreement

Subject-verb agreement is a crucial aspect of grammar that every writer should understand. When your subject and verb are not in agreement, it can affect the clarity and credibility of your writing. In this article, we will discuss the three basic rules of subject-verb agreement that will help you improve your writing.

Rule 1: Singular subjects take singular verbs, and plural subjects take plural verbs.

This rule might seem obvious, but it is essential to always remember it. Singular subjects such as “dog,” “girl,” or “book” require singular verbs such as “barks,” “is,” or “reads.” On the other hand, plural subjects such as “dogs,” “girls,” or “books” require plural verbs such as “bark,” “are,” or “read.” If you mix up singular and plural subjects with their respective verbs, your writing will be confusing and difficult to comprehend by your readers.


Incorrect: The dogs runs in the park.

Correct: The dogs run in the park.

Rule 2: Compound subjects joined by “and” take a plural verb.

When two or more subjects are joined by “and,” the verb should be plural. This rule applies even if the subjects are singular. This is because “and” connects two or more subjects, making them a single unit.


Incorrect: The cat and the dog was sleeping on the sofa.

Correct: The cat and the dog were sleeping on the sofa.

Rule 3: Collective nouns can take either a singular or plural verb, depending on the context.

Collective nouns refer to a group of people or things. Some examples of collective nouns include “team,” “herd,” “jury,” and “family.” Depending on the context, these nouns can take either a singular or plural verb. If the focus is on the group as a whole, a singular verb should be used. If the focus is on the members of the group, a plural verb should be used.


Incorrect: The jury are still deliberating on the verdict.

Correct: The jury is still deliberating on the verdict.

In conclusion, understanding subject-verb agreement is essential for clear and effective writing. By following these three basic rules, you can ensure that your writing is grammatically correct and easy to read. Remember to always check that your subjects and verbs are in agreement to avoid confusing your readers.

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