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Subject/Verb Agreement Blast

Subject/Verb Agreement Blast

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Are you a grammar fan? If you are, you should probably stop reading. You most likely know a lot more about grammar than me, and you don't need a quick reminder about subject/verb agreement.

The rest of you... thanks for reading!

I will be honest, I do not remember learning grammar in school. Most likely I got a few lessons here and there, but I do not remember them at all. I was an avid reader, so I always got by on what "sounded right." That made teaching grammar a little complicated.

Luckily, we have the internet, and I am a gifted "Googler." 

My last Google project has been subject/verb agreement. It sounds easy, but there are a few facts about subject/verb agreement that I was surprised I didn't know.

First, subject/verb agreement only applies to present tense verbs. Let me demonstrate:

He walks to school. They walk to school.

He walked to school. They walked to school.

Did you notice that in the past tense the verbs are the same?

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Along those lines, I and you use the plural form of the verb.

I walk to school. They walk to school. You walk to school. 

That is where subject/verb agreement might get confusing for your kiddos.

Another confusing part of subject/verb agreement is extra information in a sentence.

The basket of pears spills on the floor.

We have to use the singular verb "spills" because the subject of the sentence is the basket, not the pears. If your students are having trouble determining the subject of a sentence ask the question "what?" In this sentence, what spills? The basket. 

Based on my research I have come up with 13 subject/agreement rules, and I am going to share them with you. They are in no particular order.

1. Two singular subjects connected by and require a plural verb.

2. Two singular subjects connected by or or nor require a singular verb.

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3. If you have a singular and a plural subject connected by or or nor, match the verb to the subject closest to it.

4. If I is one of the subjects connected by or or nor, put it last and use a plural verb.

5. Each, everyone, every one, everybody, anyone, anybody, someone, somebody, either, and neither are all singular subjects and require a singular verb.

6. An amount of money or time is singular and requires a singular verb.

7. Collective nouns are most often used as singular subjects and require singular verbs.

8. Pants, shorts, trousers, scissors, tweezers, etc... require plural verbs.

9. The verb "be" has singular and plural forms in the past tense. (was and were)

10. The subject of a sentence comes before a phrase that begins with "of." Your verb needs to match the subject not the phrase.

11. In sentences starting with "here" or "there," the subject will come after the verb.

12. Sometimes additional information is given between the subject and verb of a sentence. This additional information does not affect the verb.

13. You and I are singular nouns, but they require plural verbs.

These rules should help you plan your subject/verb lessons for your students.

If you want to save time, check out my Subject/Verb Agreement Unit on Teachers pay Teachers. You get a rundown of each of the rules with examples. You also get a pre-test, test, sorting cards, and a practice worksheet. Of course, all answer keys are included.

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