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EDIT TIP: Subject And Verb Must Agree

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

In this crazy world where everyone seems to delight in argument, I’m here to remind you that your subject and verb must agree. And here’s what I mean:

1. If the subject is singular, the verb must be singular too. 

Example: He rides horses.

2. If the subject is plural, the verb must also be plural. 

Example: They ride horses.

3. If the subject has two or more nouns connected by and, use a plural verb.

Example: The cowboy and ranch hands ride horses.

4. If there is one subject and more than one verb, the verbs must agree with the subject. 

Example: The cowboy rides and sings.

5. If a phrase comes between the subject and the verb, the verb must agree with the subject. 

Example: The cowboy, as well as the ranch hands, is happy.

Example: The cowboy at Southfork was happy.

6. If two or more singular nouns or pronouns are connected by "or" or "nor," use a singular verb. 

Example: The cowboy or ranch hand rides before sunrise.

7. If a compound subject contains both a singular and a plural noun joined by "or" or "nor," the verb should agree with the subject closest to the verb.

Example: The ranch hands or cowboy rides before sunrise.

Example: The cowboy or ranch hands ride before sunrise.

8. Words like “each," "either," "neither," "everyone," "everybody," "anyone," and "no one" are singular. Use a singular verb.

Example: Each of the ranch hands is able to ride.

Example: Neither cowboy was present at breakfast.

Example: No one is around for breakfast.

9. Collective nouns suggest more than one but are considered singular. Use a singular verb.

Example: The group meets for chores after breakfast.

Any questions? Feel free to reach out if I can help.


This is great! #5 caught me. I would have written "The cowboy, as well as the ranch hands, are happy." I'm thinking of the subject as both the cowboy and the ranch hands, but you're right, only "The cowboy," is the subject and thus a singular verb should be used. But without the commas, writing "The cowboy and ranch hands are happy," is correct, right? The subject becomes plural.

Christina Boyd
Christina Boyd
Jun 27, 2023
Replying to

Yes. Use the plural verb. See #3.

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