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Boredom Be Gone: Lesson 10- Subject/Verb Agreement

Updated on April 24, 2020

It Isn’t Always Elementary

You’re probably thinking that Identifying a subject and a verb was one of those things you learned back in fifth grade. (At least I hope you did!) In some cases, however, an ambiguous subject will pop up and remind you why you never did like grammar.

Follow these tips, and choosing the correct verb and modifiers to use in a sentence should never be a problem again.

1. If a subject ends in -one or -body, the verb and any modifiers that refer back to the subject must be singular. ( Everybody should bring his or her book to class.) Just because the pronoun everybody contains the word every, it does end in body... and we only have one of those.

2. Make sure you have identified the subject correctly. if the sentence begins with “there”, look beyond the verb to find the subject. (There are one too many cats roaming around outside.) Clearly, there is more that one cat... which is why “cats” -not “one” -is the subject.

3. When the subject is a word like “pile”, “stack”, “bunch”, etc., the verb is singular. (A bunch of bananas was lying at the bottom of the bag.)

4. If there is a compound subject connected by “or”, and one of the subjects is singular and the other is plural, choose the verb to agree with The subject that is closer to the verb. ( The dog or the cats are making too much noise. or The cats or the dog is making too much noise.)

5. The subject can never be part of a prepositional phrase. (The focus of all those grammar rules was on capitalization.) The subject is “focus”, not “rules”, which means that a singular verb is needed.

It’s Your Turn: Choose the Correct Answer

Answers: Lesson 9 (answers to today’s lesson will be at the end of lesson 11.)

1. except

2. advice

3. altogether

4. Between

5. May

6. fewer

7. into

8. lying

9. their

10. too

11. your

12. lie; too

13. their; there

14. accept

15. among


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