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Understanding Subject-Verb Agreement in English Grammar

When it comes to constructing clear and grammatically correct sentences in the English language, one of the fundamental principles to master is subject-verb agreement. This rule ensures that the verb in a sentence agrees with the subject in terms of both number and person. Let's delve deeper into this essential aspect of English grammar.

What Is Subject-Verb Agreement?

Subject-verb agreement is the grammatical principle that dictates that the verb in a sentence should correspond to the number and person of the subject. In simpler terms, if your subject is singular, the verb should be singular, and if the subject is plural, the verb should be plural.

Number Agreement

  • Singular Subjects: Singular verbs are used when the subject refers to one person, thing, or concept. For example:
    • She sings beautifully.
    • The cat is sleeping.
  • Plural Subjects: Plural verbs are used when the subject refers to more than one person, thing, or concept. For example:
    • They sing together.
    • The dogs are barking loudly.

Person Agreement

The verb also needs to agree with the person of the subject. There are three main persons in English:

  • First Person: Refers to the speaker or speakers (I/we).
  • Second Person: Refers to the person or people being spoken to (you).
  • Third Person: Refers to someone or something not involved in the conversation (he/she/it/they).

Examples of Person Agreement:

  • I am writing an article. (First person)
  • You are studying diligently. (Second person)
  • She is a talented artist. (Third person - singular)
  • They are skilled musicians. (Third person - plural)

Why Is Subject-Verb Agreement Important?

Subject-verb agreement is crucial for maintaining sentence clarity and grammatical correctness. When subjects and verbs do not agree, sentences can become confusing and grammatically incorrect, which may lead to misunderstandings.

Common Pitfalls

Some common pitfalls to watch out for include:

  • Errors with collective nouns (e.g., "The team is playing well" rather than "The team are playing well").
  • Subject-verb agreement in complex sentences where the subject and verb might be separated by intervening phrases.
  • Compound subjects (e.g., "Peanut butter and jelly is my favorite sandwich" because the compound subject "peanut butter and jelly" is singular).


Mastering subject-verb agreement is a fundamental step towards improving your English language skills. By ensuring that your verbs agree with your subjects in terms of number and person, you'll create sentences that are both clear and grammatically correct. So, whether you're writing an article, sending an email, or having a conversation, subject-verb agreement will always be an essential tool in your language arsenal.

Understanding the The Types of English Sentences

English, like many languages, employs various sentence types to convey information and emotions. These sentence types can be categorized into four main groups: declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences. In addition to these basic forms, there are also complex and compound sentences that provide more variety and depth to our communication.

Main Groups

Declarative Sentences

Declarative sentences are perhaps the most common form of sentence in English. They are used to make statements, express facts, or convey opinions. When you want to share information or your point of view, you use declarative sentences. For example:

  1. "The sun is shining."
  2. "My favorite color is blue."
  3. "She enjoys reading books in her free time."
  4. "This movie is much better than the one we saw last week."
  5. "The conference starts at 9 AM tomorrow."

Interrogative Sentences

Interrogative sentences are designed for asking questions. They are structured in a way that prompts a response, either in the form of an answer or additional information. Questions often begin with words like "who," "what," "when," "where," "why," or "how." For instance:

  1. "Have you finished your homework?"
  2. "What time does the bus arrive?"
  3. "Are they coming to the party tonight?"
  4. "How did you learn to play the guitar?"
  5. "Is it going to rain tomorrow?"

Imperative Sentences

Imperative sentences are all about giving commands or making requests. When you want someone to do something, or you need to convey a strong directive, you use imperative sentences. For instance:

  1. "Close the door behind you."
  2. "Please pass the salt."
  3. "Turn off the lights before leaving."
  4. "Be quiet during the exam."
  5. "Don't forget to feed the dog."

Exclamatory Sentences

Exclamatory sentences express strong emotions or exclamations. They often begin with words like "what" or "how" and are used to convey surprise, excitement, or intense feelings. For example:

  1. "What a beautiful sunset!"
  2. "I can't believe I won!"
  3. "That was an incredible performance!"
  4. "Wow, that's amazing!"
  5. "How wonderful this place is!"

Complex and Compound Sentences

In addition to the four primary sentence types, English also employs complex and compound sentences to add depth and variety to communication.

Complex Sentences

Complex Sentences consist of an independent clause, which is a complete thought, and one or more dependent clauses, which are incomplete thoughts. These clauses are linked to create more intricate sentence structures. For instance:

  1. "Although it was raining (dependent clause), I went for a walk (independent clause)."
  2. "Because she studied hard (dependent clause), she aced the test (independent clause)."
  3. "Since I had some free time (dependent clause), I decided to read a book (independent clause)."
  4. "While I was cooking dinner (dependent clause), the phone rang (independent clause)."
  5. "After the concert (dependent clause), we went out for pizza (independent clause)."

Compound Sentences

Compound Sentences contain two or more independent clauses joined together by a semicolon or a comma along with a coordinating conjunction, such as "and," "but," or "or." The choice between a semicolon and a comma with a coordinating conjunction depends on the level of separation you want between the two clauses. For example:

  1. "I wanted to stay home; my friends convinced me to go to the party."
  2. "She loves to travel, so she plans to visit Europe next summer."
  3. "He wanted to go to the movie, and she preferred to stay home and watch TV."
  4. "I like both chocolate and vanilla ice cream, but I chose chocolate."
  5. "The weather was perfect, and we had a great day at the beach."

In a compound sentence, it's common to use a semicolon or a coordinating conjunction (such as "and," "but," "or," etc.) to join two independent clauses. The choice between a semicolon and a comma with a coordinating conjunction depends on the specific context and the level of separation you want between the two clauses.

Here's how it works:

Semicolon: You can use a semicolon to join two closely related independent clauses. This choice indicates a stronger connection between the two ideas than using a comma with a coordinating conjunction. For example: "I wanted to stay home; my friends convinced me to go to the party."

Comma with a Coordinating Conjunction: If you want a slightly less strong connection or you feel the clauses are more distinct but still related, you can use a comma along with a coordinating conjunction. For example: "I wanted to stay home, but my friends convinced me to go to the party."

In summary, English sentences come in various forms, each serving a unique purpose in communication. Declarative sentences share information and opinions, interrogative sentences seek answers, imperative sentences issue commands or requests, and exclamatory sentences convey strong emotions. Complex and compound sentences provide the tools for crafting more intricate and nuanced expressions. Understanding these different sentence types, along with the choice of punctuation in compound sentences, is crucial for effective and engaging communication in the English language.

Understanding the Tenses in English Grammar

English grammar is a complex system with a variety of tenses that allow us to express different times and aspects of actions. There are 12 main tenses in English, each serving a specific purpose. Let's explore these tenses with five examples for each to gain a better understanding of when and how to use them.

Simple Present

The simple present tense is used for actions that are habitual, factual, or general truths.


  • She reads books every evening.
  • The sun rises in the east.
  • Cats chase mice.
  • I work at a company.
  • They like to swim.

Present Continuous

The present continuous tense indicates actions happening right now or in the near future.


  • I am studying for my exams right now.
  • He is playing the piano at the moment.
  • They are watching a movie tonight.
  • She is cooking dinner.
  • We are driving to the beach tomorrow.

Simple Past

The simple past tense is used for actions that occurred in the past and are completed.


  • I visited London last summer.
  • She finished her homework yesterday.
  • They played soccer on Saturday.
  • He graduated from college in 2020.
  • We traveled to Paris two years ago.

Past Continuous

The past continuous tense emphasizes actions that were ongoing in the past.


  • It was raining when I left the house.
  • They were studying all night.
  • She was reading a book when the phone rang.
  • I was sleeping when you called.
  • We were having dinner at 7 pm.

Future Simple

The future simple tense describes actions that will happen in the future.


  • I will call you later.
  • She will visit her grandmother tomorrow.
  • They will buy a new car next year.
  • He will finish the project by Friday.
  • We will travel to Japan in the summer.

Future Continuous

The future continuous tense is used for actions that will be ongoing in the future.


  • At 8 pm, I will be watching a movie.
  • She will be working on her thesis all day.
  • They will be celebrating their anniversary tonight.
  • He will be driving to the airport at 9 am.
  • We will be hiking in the mountains this weekend.

Present Perfect

The present perfect tense expresses actions that happened at an unspecified time in the past or are connected to the present.


  • I have seen that movie before.
  • They have just moved to a new city.
  • She has already eaten lunch.
  • He has visited five different countries.
  • We have never tried sushi.

Past Perfect

The past perfect tense shows that one event in the past happened before another past event.


  • By the time I arrived, they had already left.
  • She had finished her work before the meeting.
  • They had graduated before I started college.
  • He realized he had forgotten his keys at home.
  • We had never been to that restaurant.

Future Perfect

The future perfect tense indicates that an action will be completed before a specific point in the future.


  • By the time you arrive, I will have completed my work.
  • She will have read the entire book by the end of the week.
  • They will have saved enough money for their dream vacation.
  • He will have graduated by the time the ceremony takes place.
  • We will have finished the renovations in two months.

Present Perfect Continuous

The present perfect continuous tense emphasizes the duration of an action that started in the past and continues into the present.


  • I have been learning Spanish for three months.
  • She has been practicing the piano all afternoon.
  • They have been working on the project for a while.
  • He has been living in New York since 2019.
  • We have been waiting for the bus for 20 minutes.

Past Perfect Continuous

The past perfect continuous tense is similar to the past perfect but emphasizes the duration of an action that happened before another past event.


  • By 5 pm, I had been studying for five hours.
  • She had been working overtime for several weeks.
  • They had been traveling for six months before returning home.
  • He had been fixing the car all morning.
  • We had been painting the house for days.

Future Perfect Continuous

The future perfect continuous tense shows that an action will continue up to a specific point in the future.


  • By the time you arrive, I will have been waiting for an hour.
  • She will have been practicing the guitar for three hours by 7 pm.
  • They will have been running the marathon for four hours when they finish.
  • He will have been working at the company for ten years by his retirement.
  • We will have been gardening all morning by the time you visit.

Understanding these 12 tenses is crucial for effective communication in English, as they help convey the timing and duration of actions with precision. Mastering these tenses will significantly improve your ability to express yourself in both spoken and written English.