“The basic rule of sentence agreement is simple: A subject must agree with its verb in number. Number means singular or plural.” (Rozakis, 2003, p. 62) The subject may be either singular or plural, and the verb selection should match the subject. The task sounds simple, but it’s not always easy to make the subject and verb match without some thought. Subject-verb agreement errors are common errors many beginning writers make, and they are highly-stigmatized errors, which means people will judge you for them.
Here are some tips to help you avoid subject-verb agreement errors.
- When the subject of a sentence is composed of two or more nouns or pronouns connected by and, use a plural verb.
- When the subject of a sentence is composed of two or more nouns or pronouns connected by or, use a singular verb.
- Do not be confused by a phrase that comes between your subject and your verb.
- Collective nouns can be tricky. Sometimes, they take a singular verb, and sometimes they take a plural verb. It depends upon how they are being used. Be sure to refer to the Collective Nouns page for more information and examples.
- Fractions can be especially tricky, but the rule is that fractions should be treated as singular or plural, depending upon the noun they are referring to.
Two-thirds of your cake was eaten before you got home.