[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

Subject/verb agreement is a topic that frequently trips me up in my own writing.  Here are some easy guidelines (borrowed from Owl Purdue online writing lab) to help us all agree.

  • Rule: When the subject of a sentence contains two or more nouns (or pronouns) connected by and, use a plural verb.
  • Example: He and his girlfriend are shelling on the beach.
  • Rule: When two or more singular nouns (or pronouns) are joined by or, or nor, use a singular verb.
  • Example: Neither the dog nor the cat is in the cabin.
  • Rule: If a compound subject includes both a singular and a plural noun (or pronoun) connected by or, or nor, the verb must agree with the part of the section nearer the verb.
  • Examples: The author or her friends write each day.  Neither her friends nor the author writes each day.
  • Rule: Doesn’t is used with a singular subject; don’t is used with a plural subject.  Except in the case of the first and second person pronouns I and you, use don’t.
  • Examples: She doesn’t like being in third place.  They don’t like the logistics.

As always, check out www.owl.english.purdue.edu when in doubt.

What grade do you earn when it comes to subject/verb agreement?