Subject-Verb Agreement


Hello, I'm Emma from mmmEnglish!

One of the most common grammar mistakes

that English learners make

is to do with the subject verb agreement.

What's that?

It's as simple as it sounds!

The subject and the verb in English sentences

must agree.

They must match.

We go to the beach on Saturdays.

If the subject is plural,

you need to use a plural verb form.

He goes to the beach on Saturdays.

He goes.

The subject is singular,

so you need to use a singular verb form.

And this is true, most of the time!

Now, you might be thinking that you

understand subject verb agreement.

It's simple, it's easy, right?

But it's the first thing that many English learners forget!

But don't worry, there are some simple

standard rules that you can use to help you.

But some aspects of singular and plural noun usage

make this a little more complex.

So that's why I'm going to teach you some tips

to master subject verb agreement in English.

Before we start,

I want to highlight that there are two main areas

where subject verb agreement can cause you problems.

The first is in your writing.

And it's important to know

the subject verb agreement rules

and how to use them correctly

so that your English writing is grammatically correct.

The other is your speaking skills.

Now, perhaps you feel confident that you know

how to match verbs to their subject

but the challenge is making that clear

when you're speaking.

And sometimes,

you might not even know this is a problem for you.

The final consonant sounds are so important

to communicating clearly.

But for many English learners,

it's not that easy to do.

Pronouncing the difference between do and does.

Now if this sounds like you,

then I want you to try and practise with me

out loud during this lesson.

Make sure you're hitting those final consonant sounds.


Let's begin.

In the present tense,

nouns and verbs agree

in opposite ways.

When your subject is plural,

you usually add S to show that it's plural, right?

Car becomes cars.

Baby becomes babies.

But when your subject is plural,

you do not add an S to your verb.

The cars look expensive.

Our noun, cars,

is plural.


Now our verb agrees with our subject.

The cars look expensive.

Now compare this to:

The car looks expensive.

When our noun is singular,

our verb needs to include an S.

In these examples,

the noun and the verb agree in opposite ways.

But I can already hear you saying

"What about if your subject is I or you?

They're singular subjects

but they don't use the singular verb form."


but they're an exception to the rule.

Subject verb agreement rules are different

when your subject is in the third-person singular.

So that's when your subject is a he,

a she or an it.

The subjects I and you are different.

Even though they're also singular nouns,

they take the plural form of the verb

and you just need to remember that.

I like to go swimming.

She likes to go swimming.

Both of these subjects are singular

but the verb forms are different.


if there is an auxiliary verb,

a helping verb,

in your sentence

like do or does

in the present simple

or am, is, are, was, were in the continuous tenses

or have or has

in the perfect tenses


you need to think about your subject verb agreement

because the auxiliary verb

becomes the agreeing verb,

the verb that agrees with the subject.

The dogs don't want it.

The dog doesn't want it.

We're going to the beach.

He is going to the beach.

Anna and Tony have been driving for hours.

Anna has been driving for hours.

Now modal verbs

like may, could, will, must, should,

they're also auxiliary verbs.

They help the main verb in the sentence

but the subject verb agreement rules are different

with modal auxiliary verbs.

The verb following a modal verb

is never in the S form.

It's always in the infinitive form.

My friends might come.

My friend might come.

Not my friend might comes.

You should come.

He should come.

Not he should comes.

Now, English sentences are not always this simple,

are they?

As you add more information to your sentences,

they become more complex

and it might be difficult to know whether your noun is

singular or plural.

But just remember that the same structure

and rules apply.

But you need to pay close attention

to where your subject is

and if it's singular or plural

because your verb must always match the subject

regardless of the words

that come in between

the verb and the subject.

It must always match.

Do you know what an indefinite pronoun is?

They're words like

everybody, nobody

anybody, someone.

Usually indefinite pronouns

take singular verbs.

Everybody wants to be loved.

Nobody likes to be left out.

Now the subject of English sentences

can be a little more complicated

with compound subjects.

Group nouns and relative clauses.

Look at this sentence.

My mum is happy for me.

My mum and dad are proud of me.

Two singular subjects

joined by "and"

means that your subject becomes plural

and now your verb needs to show this.

It's the same as saying that

they are proud of me.

So we can say that

two or more singular subjects

joined with "and"

become a plural subject

and they need a plural verb.

Now look at this sentence.

Peter or Paul is coming.

Now in this sentence,

the two singular subjects

are treated as a singular subject

because "or" gives us an option.

We're not saying both.

It's one singular noun or the other.

Not both of them together.

We would say

Peter and Paul are coming.


Peter or Paul is coming.

Playing football is fun.

Now the same rule applies

for gerunds and gerund phrases.

When gerunds are the subject,

they take the singular form of the verb.

Waiting for the bus is annoying.


when they're linked by "and"

they also take the plural form.

Meeting friends after work

and going to the beach

are my favourite things about living here.

Okay, so what about group nouns?

Single nouns that are actually

groups of people or things.







They can be either singular or plural,

depending on the meaning of an individual sentence.

This is because they can describe

the individuals in the group

and since there's more than one,

it must be plural.

But it's also possible to use these nouns

as a single group

when you're referring to the group as a whole.

Then they're singular.

So they can be a little tricky!

For example.

The team is organising the event.

So this is referring to just the single unit,

it's a singular noun.

So we need to use the singular verb.

The team are meeting today.

So the members of the club are meeting together.

Using the plural form of the verb.

The teams are meeting today.

So when used plurally,

this means that there are

many of the individual group nouns.

There are more than one team

or family or a club.

And don't forget that some nouns

look like plural nouns

but they take a singular form.

For example, news.

It seems plural because of the S

but we need to treat it as a singular noun.

You need a singular verb.

The news is interesting.

Of course, any uncountable noun is treated this way too.

So don't say the furnitures are comfortable.

Say the furniture is comfortable.

Okay let's keep going!

We're getting a little more complex now.


the subject is tricky to find in English sentences.

It's not always before the noun.

Subjects and verbs change positions

in English questions

so you need to make sure you identify

which is the subject

before you choose the verb form.

What are the steps we need to follow?

In this sentence, "the steps" are the subject

and the verb is "are"

because it's plural.

There are many plants in your garden.

There is a plant in the bathroom.

Look at this sentence.

The car, which belongs to my brother,

is not very clean.

Relative clauses can make it difficult

to locate the subject and the verb.

Noun phrases also make this difficult,

where a group of words act as a noun.

The new features of the car are impressive.

"The features" are the subject.

It's plural, so it needs a plural verb

The more complex that your sentence becomes,

the harder you need to look for the subject and the verb

and make sure that they agree.

That was exhausting, wasn't it?

You might need to go for a walk now

to let all of that sink in or watch again.

I'm sure that some of this lesson

was good revision for you,

but perhaps you learned a few new things

about subject verb agreement, too.

I hope so!

If you love this channel and you enjoy my lessons,

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and let me know in the comments

what type of lessons you'd like me to make in the future.

And keep watching this playlist!

This playlist here

will help you to practise your pronunciation

and learn more about silent letters in English.

And in this lesson, you'll be able to try out

one of my English imitation lessons for free!

So I'll see you next week for another mmmEnglish lesson!

Bye for now!