Why Is Subject-Verb Agreement Important?

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To communicate clearly in the English language, you must match a singular subject with a singular verb and a plural subject with a plural verb. To determine what verb to use with a singular or plural subject, substitute "he" or "they" for the subject.

Add an "S"

  • Often, singular verbs end in "s" and plural verbs do not. For example, "She plays" vs. "They play." The first person, "I," however is different and would be "I play."

Two Singular Subjects

  • When you have two subjects that are singular and linked by "or" the sentence will use a singular verb. If two subjects, both singular or both plural, are connected by "and," use a plural verb.

Singular and Plural Subjects

  • With one singular and one plural subject, place the plural subject after the singular and choose a plural verb to match.

Group Nouns

  • With nouns that indicate a group, like "family," or "crowd," the verb depends on the context. A noun meant to convey a singular entity needs a singular verb, such as "Her family eats dinner." However, when the noun implies individuals, use a plural verb, like "The family are going their separate ways."

First Person

  • With two subjects linked by "or" and one is an "I," the "I" should go after the first subject, and the verb should be singular.

References

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