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Better English Grammar: Subject-Verb Agreement Part 3

Updated: Mar 7


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Introduction: How to Get Better English Grammar: Subject-Verb Agreement


This article is the third and final part of the series about Subject-Verb Agreement.


If you have not, I urge you to read Parts I and II first.



Verb coming before the subject


In most cases, the subject comes before the verb, but in some sentences, the verb comes before the subject.


In those cases, you must still make sure that the verb agrees with the subject.


The two main cases where this happens is with Questions and Here/There.

Questions

The word order is usually reversed in questions, and the main or helping verb is put before the subject.


Look at these examples, where the main verb is be.


Where is the Post Office? Is the restaurant good?


The verb is is and the subject is Post Office. Is is the verb and the subject is restaurant.


For those questions where the main verb is not be, the subject always agrees with the helping verb that comes before it.


When does the Post Office open?


The helping verb is does, the subject is Post Office, and the verb is open.


Do many people work there?


Do is the helping verb, people is the subject, and the verb is work.

Here or There

The subject always follows the verb when the sentence begins with here or there.


There and here are not subjects.


Here is the catalogue.


The verb is is; the subject is catalogue.


There are many wonderful products.


The verb is are; the subject is products.

Interrupting Words and Phrases

The last form of subject-verb agreement introduces and explains Interrupting Words and Phrases.


Words that come between the verb and the subject are often confusing.


When this occurs, ignore those words for a moment.


Instead, find the subject and ensure that the verb agrees with the subject in the sentence.



Some people, wanting to improve their English, find my Modules very effective.


The words wanting to improve their English are the words that interrupt.


The subject (plural) is: people.

And the verb find, is interrupted by the phrase wanting to improve their English.


My page on the Facebook platform regularly attracts new followers.


The subject (singular) is page.

on the Facebook platform regularly are the interrupting words.

And the verb attracts agrees with the subject.


Perfect!

Interrupting words – who, which, that

If sentences contain clauses that begin with:


who, which, or that


Then the verb must agree with the subject that precedes who, which, or that.


There was a boy in my class who went on to win three Olympic gold medals.


Subject: boy; interrupting word: who; went and win are verbs.



A complete dependent clause sometimes appears between the subject and the verb.



The issue, which we brought up at the meeting today, needs to be addressed.


The subject is issue, the interrupting word is which, the dependent clause is which we brought up at the meeting today and the verb is needs.


(Note: the singular subject and the singular verb form agree.)

How to identify interrupting words or phrases

When you check what you have written:


Put words that separate the subject and the verb in parentheses/brackets.


Then it is easier to see if your subjects and verbs agree in the right way.


My car (which I have had for many years) needs extensive repairs.


Some interrupting phrases contain of the.

In these cases, place the subject before the interrupting phrase.


Two (of the more common questions I am asked) are where I am located and how I can help people improve their English.




Checklist when editing your work


Do this before you post (to social media) or print your document.

Or if you are writing longhand (in pen or pencil) for an exam, say, you need to check for errors.


So, when you are editing your work, ask yourself these questions.


Do my subjects and verbs agree? 


Check for errors with these:

  • · present tense verbs

  • · was and were

  •  interrupting phrases or words


The customers, whom I have not met, is satisfied with the work I had done for them.


Change is to are.


It be done in good time.


Change be to was. (or has been/will be )



Have I used the correct verb form with indefinite pronouns? 


Check for mistakes made with singular indefinite pronouns:


e.g. nobody, everybody, or somebody.


Everybody have to come to the concert.


Change have to has.


Are my subjects and verbs agreeing when the subject comes after the verb?


Look at the errors with these:


  • sentences that contain here and there

  • question forms


Do she have a Facebook page? All my friends is on Facebook now.


Change do to does, and change is to are.




Conclusion


This has been the final article in my series explaining subject-verb agreement.


I hope you have learned something here in order to help you write better English.


Learn and practice these to get better English grammar.


You may need to read this series of articles once or twice to fully understand the lessons I have outlined here.

 

Look out for more informative articles on a range of topics including grammar,

punctuation, and general English skills.





Further Reading



You can read other articles here, as well as other informative articles on grammar to improve your English writing.


Having good grammar should be an essential skill to getting good English.





© Apex English Tutoring 2021 - Updated January 2024




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About Me


Hello and welcome!


My name is Michael Finemore and I am the owner-operator of Apex English Tutoring.


As an experienced English Teacher, I'm passionate about helping people turn their 'poor' English into great English, with easy and effective ways to practice.






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