ESL Subject-Verb Agreement: Practice & Games

Instructor: Lesley King

Lesley has taught ESOL for many years, holds a master's degree in curriculum and instruction, and a doctorate degree in Instructional Leadership.

In this lesson, you will see examples and directions for implementing subject-verb agreement practice for English as a Second Language students. This lesson is designed to target students who are in kindergarten through eighth grade and are conversational in English.

What Are Subjects and Verbs?

A verb shows an action or movement of the subject in the sentence. The subject is the who or what that performs the action in the sentence. When combining the subject and verb with other descriptive words, a sentence is formed to deliver a complete thought. This builds paragraphs to share different forms of information.

How Should I Start the Lesson?

There are several ways in which students can get a clear understanding of the subject of a sentence. One way to grab their attention is to show an interesting lesson beginner such as a brief movie clip. These are sometimes called a hook.

After showing the clip, students should be asked to write down who or what the sentence is about. Once they have done so, they should write the word 'subject' above the name or character they selected. The teacher should then explain that the lesson's focus is on subjects, which is who or what the sentence is all about.

This same clip can be used to explain what a verb is. After the clip has been viewed a second time, students should write down a word that describes what their selected subject actually did. Then the teacher should explain that a verb is what the subject does or has done in the sentence.

If a movie clip is not available, the teacher can also use illustrations and sentences to demonstrate the subject and verb in the sentence. The examples and picture below shows how this strategy can work.


  • Example 1- Mary rides her new bike to work.

In this example, the subject is 'Mary' because this is who the sentence is about. The verb is 'rides' because it tells what the subject does.

  • Example 2 - The girl wears her favorite shirt.

In this example, the subject would be 'girl,' and the verb would be 'wears.'

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