Subject-Verb Agreement Games & Activities

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

One of the most common English grammar errors involves subject-verb agreement. This lesson provides teachers with games and activities designed to help students identify and correct these errors.

Subject-Verb Agreement

Subject-verb agreement errors can sometimes be difficult to find, especially in written and spoken sentences that sound 'correct.' Take the following sentence for example.

Mary, as well as her sisters, are going to the summer camp.

While this sentence may sound right, it's actually incorrect. It should read:

Mary, as well as her sisters, is going to the summer camp.

In this sentence the subject is Mary, which is singular so the verb should be is. The confusion comes from the interrupting phrase, as well as her sisters, which makes the subject sound plural. The easiest way to spot this mistake is to think of the sentence with the phrase between the commas removed. That leaves Mary is going to the summer camp. This sounds a lot better than Mary are going to the summer camp.

Fortunately, not all errors are so difficult to spot. Look at the following sentence.

Everyone need to wash hands before eating.

In this sentence, the error is obviously the incorrect use of need instead of needs.

The most important rule to impart to students when teaching subject-verb agreement is that singular subjects require singular verbs and plural subjects require plural verbs. This rule forms the basis of the following activities.

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