For sentences to be written correctly and sound right, the subject and verb must be in agreement. Subjects and verbs don’t care about your opinion, the two must be in agreement with each other. They even have rules they play by and if you break their rules it leaves the subject and verb in disagreement and could start a fight on the field.
And the last thing the coach wants to see is the players fighting on the playing field.
To keep these little guys happy and playing right we need to keep them in agreement. Today we’re going to refresh ourselves on a few basic rules of subject and verb agreement.
*A verb must agree with its subject in number.
It sounds easy enough, but to understand this agreement you need to know singular and plural forms of nouns, pronouns and verbs.Most nouns become plural by adding an s or es, but this isn’t always the case.Sometimes a noun is weird and forms a plural completely different.The word child is single, the plural is children.Pay close attention to words like this and make sure you use the correct ending to make words plural.
Pronouns also form plurals, but they do this in a strange way too.I isa singlular pronoun, but its plural form is we.Words like he, she or it become they in the plural form.
Verbs have singular and plural forms too, but they can be a bit tricky.Present tense verbs change the ending when becoming plural.He, she and it sits, while I, you, we and they just sit.Anytime you hear someone say, “I sits” or “we sits”, etc.doesn’t it make you cringe?It’s wrong because the subject is in disagreement with the verb.Words like I and you take the plural form of the verb.
Irregular verbs get even trickier.
Present tense- Singular:
I am, have, do.
You are, have, do.
He, she, it is, has, does.
Present tense- Plural
We are, have, do.
You are, have, do.
They are, have, do.
Past tense – Singular
He, she, it was.
Past tense- Plural
I am happy. (singular, present tense)
I was happy. (singular, past tense)
You are happy. (singular, present tense)
You were happy. (singular, past tense)
He is happy. (singular, present tense)
He was happy. (singular, past tense)
We are happy. (plural, present tense)
We were happy. (plural, past tense)
You are happy. (plural, present tense)
You were happy. (plural, past tense)
They are happy. (plural, present tense)
They were happy. (plural, past tense)
*A singular subject takes a singular verb.
*A plural subject takes a plural verb.
A light shines, but lights shine.
A dress wrinkles, but dresses wrinkle.
A goose flies, but geese fly.
Some words like be, have and do are used as helping verbs.
*Helping verbs must agree in number with its subject.
John is marching in the parade.
The dogs were found in the field.
The geese have flown away.
In Patricia Vennes’ last post, “Dot Your “I’s” and Cross Your “T’s“, she gave an excellent way of proofreading your writing by saying:
Read your work out loud to yourself as well. The process of hearing the words will help you find mistakes more easily and since you read out loud slower, you’ll be able to concentrate on all of the words rather than just glancing over everything.
Reading out loud will help you discover if the subject and verb are in agreement. If the sentence doesn’t read well or sound right, more than likely it’s in disagreement.
Check back soon. We’ll cover interrupting words and compound subjects.