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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT - Lesson 1: Basic Rules + Am, Is, Are, Was, Were + Quiz (17 Sentences)

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Hello and welcome.

In this series of lessons, I will teach you all about subject-verb agreement.

Well start with the basics in this lesson and in the following lessons, well discuss

more advanced topics such as quantity expressions, group or collective nouns, identifying subjects

when there are interrupting phrases or clauses, etc.

This first lesson will teach you how to make sentences with correct verb forms for different

subjects, and how to use the verbbe” – that is, am, is, are, was and were.

As always, at the end of the lesson, there is a final quiz to test your understanding.

So, if youre ready, lets get started.

So, what is subject-verb agreement?

Well, you know that every English sentence has a subject and a verb.

Subject-verb agreement means the subject and the verb must be in the correct form.

This is the rule: A singular subject takes a singular verb.

A plural subject takes a plural verb.

Take these two sentences: “That monkey eats bananas.”

Those monkeys eat bananas.”

In the first sentence, we see a singular noun as the subject – “monkey”.

Nounmeans a name; so here, “monkeyis the name of an animal.

This is the subject here.

The verb iseats”; “verbmeans an action.

In this sentence, the subject is a singular nounone monkey.

So, the verb also needs to be singulareats.

But in the second sentence, we have a plural subject and a plural verb – “Those monkeys

EAT bananas.”

Notice that the nouns and verbs are behaving in opposite waysthe singular nounmonkey

becomesmonkeyswith ansin the plural form.

But the verb has ansin the singular form – “eatsand the plural verbeat

does not have ans”.

Here are some more sentences: “That boy walks to school.”

Those boys walk to school.”

This car goes fast.”

These cars go fast.”

Your shirt looks nice.”

Your shirts look nice.”

That lady speaks Spanish.”

Those ladies speak Spanish.”

My grandfather has a big house.”

My grandparents have a big house.”

So, the singular nouns here aremonkey”, “boy”, “car”, “shirt”, “lady”,

andgrandfather” – these are all nouns because they are names of people, animals

or objects.

The singular verbs all have ans”: “eats”, “walks”, “goes”, “looks”, “speaks”,


When we look at the plurals, this is reversed.

The plural nouns all have ansat the end.

And the plural verbs have nos”.

Now, with plural nouns, I want to point out that there are some irregular plurals.

For example, instead of sayingthat boy”, you can sayThat child walks to school”,

but now the plural isThose children walk to school”, notchilds”.

But still, “childrenis a plural form, so we use a plural verbwalk” (with no

-s added to the end).

Heres one more example, but this one is going to be a little tricky: “Mark lives

in Florida”.

Markis the name of one man, so we saylives” (singular verbthats easy).

But, what if Mark has a wife, Anna.

Would you say, “Mark and Anna lives in Floridaorlive in Florida”?

Well, “Markis one person (so singular); similarly, “Annais one person (again,


However, “Mark and Annaare two people, so this is a plural form.

We need a plural verb (remember that a plural verb does not take an -s at the end).

So, “Mark and Anna live in Florida.”

This type of subject connected byandis called a compound subject.

There is another type of compound subject connected byor”: “Mark or Anna lives

in FloridaNow notice that we have a singular verblives”.

This is because the conjunctionormeans that eitherMarkorAnna” (one

of those two) is in Florida, not both of them.

So, only one person lives in Florida, so the subject is considered singular and the verb

is also in singular form.

This kind of compound subject connected byoris not that common but its still

useful to keep this rule in mind.

Alright, there are a lot of nouns in these sentences.

But, in natural speech and writing, we often use pronouns in the place of nouns to avoid


For example, instead ofThat child”, I can sayHe walks to school.”

And instead ofThose children”, “They walk to school.”

In the place ofThat lady”, I can sayShe speaks Spanish”, and for the plural

again, “They speak Spanish.”

Theyhere refers tothose ladies.”

This car goes fastcan be rewritten asIt goes fastandThese cars

becomesThey go fast”.

Here are all the other sentences with the noun subject changed to a pronoun subject.

There are two things I want to point out.

Notice that in the first sentence, Ive saidhe”, “sheorit”.

Thats because you can refer to an animal (like a monkey) in the same way that you talk

about a personyou can useheorsheor you can just sayit” – thats

also correct.

And second, we see that all of the plurals have been changed tothey”.

But in some cases you can also havewe”.

For example, if youre talking to the Spanish-speaking ladies, they can say, “We speak Spanish”.

Similarly, if youre in a conversation with Mark and Anna, Mark might say, “We live

in Florida.”

– “wemeaning the couple of Mark and Anna.

The children can sayWe walk to schooland if monkeys could talk, theyd tell you

We eat bananas.”

Heres a table that shows you this pattern.

The first row has singular nouns and the singular pronounsHe”, “SheandIt”.

So the verbs are all in singular form with an -s added to the end.

In the second row, we see plural nouns along with the two plural pronounsWeand


So the verbs are all in plural form without the -s.

Now, you might have noticed that there are two important pronouns missing here: the pronouns


Well, let me ask you: areIandyousingular or plural?

Where would you put them?

Now, the pronounIis always singular; Im always just one person.

Youis usually singular because we usually focus on one person when speaking, but it

can also be plural if youre talking to more than one person.

Like through this video, Im teaching all of you.

SoIis a singular pronoun andyoucan be singular or plural.

However, the rule in English is that with bothIandyou”, we always use

a plural verb form.

Dont ask me why.

Theres no real reason for this.

Its just the rule.

For example: “I read the newspaper every morning”, “You make very good coffee.”

You might say that as a compliment if you go to somebodys house and you really like

the coffee they give you.

Notice that I did not sayI readsorYou makes”.

WithIandYou”, we use plural verbs without -s.

Lets get back to the full sentences.

Ive added our two new sentences withIandYouat the bottom.

The basic subject verb agreement rulesingular verb for singular subject and plural verb

for plural subject also applies to negative forms.

We sayThat monkey does not eat bananasordoesnt eat bananasandThose

monkeys do not or dont eat bananas.”

Its important to note that we saydoes notand theneat”.

We dont saydoes not eatsbecause the -s is already added to the helping verb


So, theres no need to add it again to the main verbeat”.

If you want, stop the video and read the other sentences.

So, remember that to make negative sentences, we usedoes notwith singular subjects

anddo notwith plural subjects.

Similarly, to make questions, we usedoes” (singular) anddo” (plural): “Does

that monkey eat bananas?”

Do those monkeys eat bananas?”

Does that boy walk to school?”

Do those boys walk to school?”


You can pause and read the others if you want.

Lets get back to the original sentences for a moment.

I want to point out that subject verb agreement rules only apply to the present tense.

In the past tense, subject-verb agreement isnt a problem because theres only one

past tense verb form.

The past tense ofeatisate.”

So, we say: “That monkey ate bananas.”

Those monkeys ate bananas.”

Its the same for both singular and plural subjects.

Similarly, “That boy walked to school.”

Those boys walked to school.”

In the other sentences, we would saywent”, “looked”, “spoke”, “had”, “lived”,


So, remember that the basic subject verb agreement rule only applies in the present tense.

The rule is: for a singular subject, you add -s to the verb.

And for a plural subject, you just use the verb in its base form without -s.

This rule works for all verbs: walk, go, look, speak, ring, have, live, do, talk, play, etc.


Actually, this rule works for all verbs except for one, and thats the verbbe.”

The verbbehas its own subject-verb agreement rules.

Lets talk about them now.

You know that verbs in English have two present tense forms: “eat, eats”, “walk, walks

and so on, and one past tense form: “ate”, “walkedetc.

But, the verbbehas three present tense forms: “am”, “isandare”.

It also has two past tense forms: “wasandwere”.

In the present, if the subject isI”, we sayam”: “I am a teacher”, “Im

going to eat.”

If the subject is a singular noun or one of these pronouns: “he”, “sheorit”,

we useis”: “He is happy”, “Sara is waiting”, “It is raining”.

And if the subject is a plural or one of these pronouns: “you”, “weorthey”,

we useare”: “You are late”, “We are eating”, “The children are playing”.

In the past, the rules are different.

For singular noun subjects and for the pronounsI”, “he”, “sheandit”,

we usewas”: “I was tired”, “Arun was running”, “She was afraid”.

And for plural subjects and the pronounsyou”, “weandthey”, we usewere”:

You were rude”, “We were traveling”, “The dogs were barking.”

You see that some of these sentences have continuous verbs: “am going”, “is waiting”,

is raining”, “are playing”, “was running”, “were traveling”, “were


These are in the present or past continuous tenses, but the form of the verb be: “am”,

is”, “are”, “was”, “wereis what changes depending on the subject.

If you memorize the simple rules in this table, youll find that usingbecorrectly

is really no trouble at all.

Alright, if youre ready, its now time for our quiz.

Alright, you see that I have a few tables over on that side that show you all the rules

for subject verb agreement that we have discussed.

The first table is for verbs in general and the second two tables are for the verb be,

first for present and then for the past tense.

Now I have a total of 17 sentences for us to practice with.

We'll do a set of five first and then we'll move on to the next set.

Alright in each sentence I want you to choose the correct verb form so in each one you see

that there are two options at various places.

I want you to choose the correct option in each case.

Stop the video now, think about your answers, then play the video again and continue.

Alright here are the answers: number one: “I like to study for an hour before I go

to bed at nightIn both cases we use the base form of the verb without an -s because

for the pronouns I, you, we and they, we don't add s to the verb.

It's the same in number two: You smell great (not smells) because we don't add -s with

the pronoun you and here, “What perfume are you wearing?”

now the subject here is not perfume the subject is you, okay, so withyouthe verb form

ofbethat we're supposed to use isare”, soWhat perfume are you wearing?”

Number three: “This apple looks freshThere's only one apple we're talking about

here, so we add -s to the verb; that's the singular form – “This apple looks fresh

but those mangoes don't.”

Those mangoes are a plural so we don't add s to the helping verb do: “Those mangoes

don't” - that means they don't look fresh.

Number four: “Paul and his brother run a successful photography business together

Remember that Paul and his brother is a compound subject - Paul and his brother are two people

so we use a plural verb formrunwithout adding -s to the end.

And finally number five – “There are seven continents in the world.”

Here, the subject is notthere” - it's neither singular nor plural; there is just

an adverb.

The subject here is seven continents - that's a plural soThere are seven continents

in the world.”

Alright, here's the next set of five -number six to ten.

Stop the video think about your answers then play the video and check.

Alright here are the answers - in number six we have a conversation between two people:

What time is it?”

It's two o'clock.

Why do you ask?”

Well Jen has a flight at five.

She needs to get going.”

Here we've saidhasandneedsbecause in both cases we have a singular subject.

Here Jen is a singular subject and she is a pronoun that refers back to Jen.

Number seven – “Sunilagain singularsays he would like to visit Moscow someday

You might be wondering if Sunil is singular why is itlikeand notlikesover

here - that's because when we have a modal verb like will, would, can, could, shall,

should and so on we don't apply any subject verb agreement rules.

We just put the modal and then the base form of the verb, that's whySunil says he would

like to visit Moscow someday.”

Number eight: “You talk too fast for me.

Could you slow down a little please?”

Number nine: “Does Brenda drive to work?”

Again, Brenda is a singular noun so we need to add -s to the helping verbdo”: we

make it does and then we make a question with that: “Does Brenda drive to work?

No she doesn't.

She takes the bus.”

Number 10: “We wanted to go out and play because we were really boredWith the plural

pronoun we, we use were in the past tense soWe were really bored but it was raining

outside so we just stayed inside” “Itis a singular subject soit was raining


OK, now we move on to sentences number 11 to 14.

OK, stop the video, do the exercise and then check.

OK in number 11, “Do all adverbs end in ly?”

Imagine a student asking that to his or her teacher.

We sayDobecause the subject here isall adverbsplural, soDo all adverbs

and in ly?”

The teacher saysNo, there are many adverbs that have other endingsSo againare

andhavebecause the subject is a plural.

Number 12: “My sonsingularMy son goes to the gym every day after school.

I'm glad he doesn't spend a lot of time playing video games like other kids13: “Ashley

singular againAshley was elated” - elated means she was very happyAshley was elated

when she found out her mom and dad were coming to visitMom and dad are two people, again

we have a compound subject – “mom and dad were coming to visitOK number 14:

Who are those people?

I don't know.

They look like executives or salespeople; I cant tell.”

Alright, we move on to our last set of sentences: sentences number 15 to 17.

These are slightly longer to challenge you.

Go ahead and stop the video and do the exercise.

OK number 15: “What breed is your dog?

He's a German Shepherd.

What does he like to do?

He loves going for walks but he absolutely hates taking a bath16: “Shalini teaches

physics at a college.

She enjoys teaching but saysnow up until this point we've been dealing with Shalini

who is one person so a singular subject but here it gets a little complicated: “but

she says the hourspluralthe hours are long and the paysingularisn't

very good so shesingular againis looking for a better paying jobNumber 17: “The

report has revealedThe report is singularThe report has revealed that more than

two million accountspluralhave been affected because of the websites recently

exposed security loopholeNow in this last sentence you seetwo million accounts have

been affectedthis is in the passive voice.

Now as far as subject verb agreement goes it doesn't matter whether a sentence is in

the active voice or the passive voice you just look at the subject and you apply the

correct verb form.

Alright I hope you've enjoyed this lesson.

Go ahead and watch part 2 of subject verb agreement for more advanced topics.

Let me know how many of these 17 sentences from the quiz you got right in the comments

section below.

As always happy learning and I'll see you in another lesson soon.

The Description of SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT - Lesson 1: Basic Rules + Am, Is, Are, Was, Were + Quiz (17 Sentences)