Subjects and verbs must "agree" in person (first, second, third) and number (singular, plural). Except for the "be" verb, agreement is confined to present tense verbs.
The present tense -s is used on the verb if the subject is third-person singular:
For subjects that are not third-person singular, there is no ending on the verb:
the players ride
Avoid problems with subject-verb agreement by being aware of the contexts that follow.
Some words such as each, every, everyone, neither, and everybody are singular and take singular verbs (watch for prepositional phrases).
- Every one of those girls (sings, sing) soprano in the school choir.
- Each of the sports (is, are) needed for a well-rounded program.
- Everyone (like, likes) to see a football game.
- Neither of those (taste, tastes) very good to me.
Two nouns joined by AND take a plural verb.
- In the house, the boy and the men (talk, talks) about movies.
- When I am sick, my brother and my father (stay, stays) with me.
- The dog with the fluffy tail and the cat with the white spots (eat, eats) a lot of food.
- Singing and dancing (is, are) not allowed in my church.
If a sentence starts with THERE, look elsewhere for the subject.
- There (is, are) many rooms in the building.
- There (were, was) a dog book on the shelf.
- When I drove downtown, there (were, was) a beautiful parade.
- Although it was a cold day, there (were, was) no snowflakes.
If there is an appositive in the sentence, the verb agrees with the word it modifies, not the appositive.
- The scissors, only one pair, (is, are) already dull.
- Mash, one of the best television shows, (portray, portrays) life in the army.
- My sister, not my brothers, (read, reads) too much at night.
With either/or or neither/nor, the verb is determined by the word closest to it.
- Either the woman or the children (are, is) going to perform on stage.
- Either the children or the woman (are, is) selling tickets.
- Neither the cat with the big ears nor the kittens (is, are) going to the vet.
- Neither the kittens nor the cat with the big ears (is, are) going to the vet.
Many times the subject is NOT next to the verb.
- The short story, along with novels, (is, are) taught in English class.
- The beautiful airplane which is in the heavens (is, are) flying above the clouds.
- The girl who drives two different cars (sits, sit) next to me in class
*For Practice: See Exercises L through O.