Subject / Verb agreement


1.Subject/verb agreement

This simply means that the verb (or auxiliary verb) must pay attention to whether the subject is singular or plural. Look at this sentence: ‘The teacher was standing at the window’. In this sentence, the subject is ‘the teacher’. There is just one teacher, so the subject is singular. Because the subject is singular, the verb must ‘match’ it. Therefore, the correct (auxiliary) verb form is ‘was’ (and not ‘were‘).

2. Look at this paragraph from Sweet tooth (ch3). Look at the subjects of each sentence and how the verbs or auxiliary verbs agree.

The time was just after 5.20. She was walking slowly down the main street of Narbury, one hand on the side of her face. Behind her, Supersave was shutting. Most of the other shops were already closed. Everywhere, people were hurrying home, returning to their families. But not Wendy. She had phoned the dentist, Cedric Links, during her lunch break and now she had an emergency appointment for 5.30.

3. Choose the correct form of the verb in these sentences

a. Tracey and Wendy [was/were] old friends.

b. Tracey [wasn’t/weren’t] afraid to go to the dentist but Wendy [were/was].

c. A little train [was/were] going round a track in the toy shop window.

d. The lane that Wendy went into [was/were] very dark.

e. When Wendy looked at Mrs Morton’s face, she saw that the old woman [was/were] missing her front tooth.

f. Tracey thought that the new dentist [was/were] really good.

4. Sentences that start with ‘There’. Although ‘There’ is in the subject position, the ‘true’ subject is somewhere else! Try to find the subject, decide if it is singular or plural and choose the correct answer.

a. There [was/were] a toy shop amongst the many shops in Narbury.

b. There [was/were] a staircase with many stairs that led to the new dentist’s office.

c. There [was/were] a lot of people on the street at 5pm.






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3 thoughts on “Subject / Verb agreement

  1. emasuk says:

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  2. […] EFL shorts has today got a good exercise today relating to the correspondence between the subject and a verb in a sentence. After this definition there is a small exercise which you can find here. […]

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