The Subject Verb Agreement: Must Know Basic for Every Writers

90% of English users suffice in defining Noun as a naming word, Pronoun as a word use instead of a noun and Verb as an action word. But the problem occurs only within the preexisting agreement among them.

What is a Subject verb agreement and why is it obligatory to be understood by all English users?

Subject Verb Agreement

The definition can be derived from the phrase itself. It solely means harmony between the subject and the verb. Mainly because I want the topic to be comprehensive enough, I won’t hesitate to give a lucid explanation on the subject and the verb and then come down to how agreement emerged. Guess you following? Okay. Let’s proceed.


The subject in grammar is one of the basic elements in the structure of a typical English sentence. It is mostly referred to as the recipient or doer of the action. It could either be noun or pronoun.

  1.       Ade eats like an angry mob
  2.       Mr Eze is our English teacher.
  3. .    They are laughing at us

In the sentences above, you would notice the avail of some persons who perform the actions. In sentence 1, we have Ade as the doer of the action. The person who eats like an angry mob. In sentence 2 and 3, we have Mr Eze and They respectively as the recipients of the actions. Thus, these are people that we refer to as Subject.

However, it doesn’t end there. Note that the subject could be in forms. It could be in number or person and not necessarily ‘the name of a person’. Let me make this clearer. In the above sentences, you would notice that sentence 1 and 2 have name of persons as the subject. Yes. The sentences are accurate but doesn’t mean subject can only be name of a person. Although, if you have been following, you would remember I said earlier that subject can either be a noun or a pronoun. This means, definitely, subject could be in forms other than name of a person. Okay. Let’s discuss subject as a

  • Number

On hearing the word number, 1,2,3,4,5,6…. comes to your mind. Isn’t it? If your answer is in the positive, then, you have the idea of the explanation am about to give just that you do not know that you know. Retrospect to your primary school lessons when you were taught singular and plural. Do you remember that your teacher repeatedly told you singular denotes one person/thing and plural denotes two or more people/things? Exactly what subject as a number means. Study the diagram below.


In the above diagram, I, you, he, she, and Mary are placed beneath Singular. On the other hand, we, you, they, (James, Mary, Sekinat) are placed beneath plural. The reason is because the former denotes one person and the latter denotes two or more persons except from ‘you’ which is an exception.

  1.        She dresses like a queen
  2.        Mary, Jane and Tade killed the rats.

In sentence 1, the recipient is one person. Thus, a singular subject and in sentence 2, the recipients are 3. Thus, we have a plural subject. Guess you are still following? Okay.

Subject can also be identified in form of

  • Person

In grammar, there are three types of person that could be subject. They are: the speaker, the hearer, and the referent. The speaker is called the first person (The person speaking), the second person (Person spoken to), and the third person (The person spoken about). Take a deep look at the diagram below.

 You would notice that the first person has it singular and plural, second person has it singular and plural and the third person also has it singular and plural. At this point, I hope I have successfully shed light on the subject.  

The verb

For you to understand the subject verb agreement, you have to recognize verb further than being ‘an action word’. It could be described as a state of being or technically as a linking verb. Would you be shocked to hear that verb can also be categorized into singular and plural just like Noun? Well, this is the point where the subject verb agreement emerged.

Would like you to recall back to your primary school lessons where your teacher explained to you that a noun could be pluralized by adding ‘s’, ‘es’, and ‘ies’. This could only be determined by what ends the noun. For instance, baby becomes babies when pluralized, table becomes tables when pluralized and book becomes books.

That of verb is a bit akin to noun in the sense that verb could also be categorized into singular and plural. It is the format that distinguished the two. Instead of adding ‘s’ to pluralize a word as it is in Noun, Verb only takes ‘s’ to singularize a word and the plural of the word will remain the way it is. For instance.

Accesses is singular while access is plural.

Cries is singular while cry is plural

Note that it is not all singular verbs that would carry‘s’. The ‘be’ verb such as below is entirely different.

Singular       plural

Is                    are

Am                 are

Was                were

The ‘do’ verb and the ‘have’ verb are also different such that they don’t carry‘s’ like other verbs. We have the

Singular       plural

Does              do

Has                 have

All you have to do is to note the ‘be’, ‘do’ and ‘have’ verbs together with their format of singular and plural.


The word agreement literally means harmony. In grammar, it means concord. That is, the agreement between the subject and the verb. The word is exactly the same as when you and a friend agree to meet at the library at 10:00am to complete a task. If one of you willingly or unwillingly didn’t meet at the library, then the task ahead of you would be half-baked. Therefore, raise the probability of constituting an error.

If the verb in your sentence doesn’t work in harmony with the subject, your ungrammatical sentence would definitely be ascertained. Thus, you have to constrain any form of subject verb disagreement. And one way to do this, is by opting for a close reading of this piece of work from the beginning to the end.

The formula behind this is amazingly simple. You just have to note your singular + singular and plural + plural. Examples are:

Mr Eze loves driving us to school

Mary, Jane and Tade are my amiable colleagues

In sentence 1, Mr Eze and loves agree with each other. Thus, rendering the sentence a grammatical one.

Mr Eze is a singular subject and loves is a singular verb.

In sentence 2, Mary, Jane and Tade are plural subject and a plural subject must take a plural verb. This is why we have are as the corresponding verb. Do not forget the ‘be’ verb. For explicit understanding, make reference to some aspects above.

Getting the subject verb agreement is crucial as an English user because it is inevitable in most of your sentences both in writing and discourse. However, my advice to you is to have a close reading of this and make use of it appropriately.  

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