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Subject-Verb Agreement


Within a sentence there are certain requirements for the relationship between the subject and the verb.


  • The subject and verb must agree both in number and person.


We have surpassed our sales goal of one million dollars.


Here, the first person plural verb have agrees with its first person plural subject we.

Note that, ironically, third person singular verbs often end in s or es :
He seems to be fair.



  • Intervening phrases and clauses have no effect on subject-verb agreement.


Only one of the President’s nominees was confirmed.

Here, the singular verb was agrees with its singular subject one. The intervening prepositional phrase of the President’s nominees has no effect on the number or person of the verb.



  • Collective nouns followed by intervening phrases are particularly easy to miss.


The content of the boxes is what she wants.

The meaning of her sentences is not clear.

group of lions is called a "pride."

  • Be careful when a simple subject is followed by a phrase beginning with as well as, along with, together with, in addition to, or a similar expression. Be sure to make the verb agree with the simple subject, not with a noun in the intervening phrase.


Our Senator, along with most congressmen, opposes the bill.


Here, the singular verb opposes agrees with its singular subject Senator. The intervening phrase along with most congressmen has no effect on the number or person of the verb.



• When the subject and verb are reversed, they still must agree in both number and person.



Attached are copies of the contract.


Here, the plural verb are attached agrees with its plural subject copies. The sentence could be rewritten as

Copies of the contract are attached.

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