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Mastering Subject-Verb Agreement: Overcoming Common Challenges and Enhancing Clarity

Subject-verb agreement is a vital aspect of English grammar that ensures coherence and clarity in our writing. It involves matching the subject of a sentence with the appropriate verb form. Although it may appear straightforward, subject-verb agreement can present challenges. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore common pitfalls in subject-verb agreement, provide detailed explanations, and offer a wide range of examples. By addressing these weaknesses, we aim to equip you with a solid understanding of subject-verb agreement and empower you to communicate accurately and confidently.

Singular and Plural Nouns

Subject-verb agreement often poses challenges when dealing with singular and plural nouns. The verb form must correspond with the number of the subject. Let's delve deeper into this issue with the following examples:

Incorrect: The team plays well.

Correct: The team play well.

Explanation: In this example, "team" is a collective noun acting as a singular subject, although it refers to a group. Consequently, the verb form "play" should be pluralised to "play" to ensure subject-verb agreement.

Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns, including "everyone," "somebody," or "anything," can cause confusion in subject-verb agreement. These pronouns are typically singular and require singular verb forms. Let's examine an example:

Incorrect: Everyone have their own opinions.

Correct: Everyone has their own opinions.

Explanation: "Everyone" is a singular pronoun, so it necessitates a singular verb form like "has," rather than "have."

Collective Nouns

Collective nouns can be singular or plural depending on context and intended meaning. It is crucial to determine whether the collective noun is acting as a unit or as individual members. Consider the following example:

Incorrect: The jury was divided in their opinions.

Correct: The jury were divided in their opinions.

Explanation: In this instance, "jury" is acting as a group of individuals. Thus, the plural verb form "were" is more appropriate than the singular form "was."

Compound Subjects

Compound subjects joined by "and" can present challenges in subject-verb agreement. The verb should be plural unless the subjects are considered a single unit. Let's examine an example:

Incorrect: Bread and butter is my favourite breakfast.

Correct: Bread and butter are my favourite breakfast.

Explanation: Since "bread" and "butter" are separate entities, the plural verb form "are" should be used.

Agreement with Quantifiers

Quantifiers, such as "each," "every," or "either," are considered singular and require singular verb forms. Consider the following example:

Incorrect: Each of the students have completed their assignments.

Correct: Each of the students has completed their assignments.

Explanation: "Each" indicates individual actions, so the singular verb form "has" is appropriate instead of "have."


By delving into the intricacies of subject-verb agreement and addressing common challenges, we have equipped you with a thorough understanding of this crucial grammatical concept. Remember to match singular and plural nouns, pay attention to indefinite pronouns, consider the nature of collective nouns, account for compound subjects, and ensure agreement with quantifiers. By incorporating these strategies, you'll enhance your writing and confidently navigate subject-verb agreement, resulting in clear and effective communication.


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