This article is the third and final part of the series about Subject-Verb Agreement.
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 or There.
The word order is usually reversed in questions, and the main or helping verb is
put before the subject. Look at this example, 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
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 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): 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, and the verb is needs. (Note:
the singular subject and the singular verb form agree.)
How to identify interrupting words or phrases
When you go back to 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 correctly.
My car (which I have had for many years) needs extensive repairs.
Some interrupting phrases contain of the. In these cases, the subject is placed
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
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.
It be done in good time.
Change is to are, and be to was.
Have I used the correct verb form with indefinite pronouns? Check for
mistakes made with singular indefinite pronouns such as nobody, everybody,
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 of my friends is on Facebook now.
Change do to does, and change is to are.
This has been the final article in my series explaining subject-verb agreement. You may
need to reread these articles once or twice to fully understand the lessons I have outlined here.
I hope you have learned something here in order to help you write better English.
Look out for more informative articles on a range of topics including grammar,
punctuation, and general English skills.
© Apex English Tutoring 2021