San Jose City College

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Subject-Verb Agreement rules must be applied whenever the following tenses are used. Study the table for the +s form used with third person singular nouns and pronouns (he, she, it) and the no-s form used with all other subject pronouns--I, you, we, they, and plural nouns).

Tense Verb+s form (use with 3rd person singular pronouns and singular nouns) -s form ( use with all other personal pronouns and plural nouns)
Simple present preventprevents prevent
Present progressivetakeis taking are taking
Present Perfectleavehas left have left
Present perfect progressivestudyhas been studying have been studying
Present passiveignoreis ignored am/are ignored
Present passive progressivehonoris being honored am/are being honored
Past passiveinjurewas injured were injured
Past passivebuildwas being built were being built

Subject-verb agreement errors with the above verb tenses can be easily avoided with two simple steps:

Identify the subject noun or pronoun as singular or plural.
Make the verb or auxiliary verb in a verb phrase agree in number with the subject.

Problems arise with different types of nouns and pronouns and with specific elements of sentence grammar. Follow the links below for explanation, examples, and practice.

1. SVA with count, noncount, and collective nouns

2. SVA when phrases occur between the subject and verb

3. SVA with nouns that look plural but have singular meaning, nouns with no singular counterparts, nouns with the same singular and plural form, and common nouns with Latin or Greek origin

4. SVA with nouns and phrases expressing numerical concepts

5. SVA with here, there, and it and inverted word order

6. SVA with indefinite pronouns and with nouns preceded by every and each

7. SVA with verbals, noun clause subjects, and adjective clauses

8. SVA with subjects joined by or, nor, either...or, and neither...nor

9. Edit student writing samples and make subjects and verbs agree


ESL Program@San Jose City College
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