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Agreement- A Matter of Compatibility: Grammar Review Study Guide

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Updated on Aug 25, 2011

Practice exercises for this lesson can be found at  Agreement - A Matter of Compatibility: Grammar Review Practice Exercises.

In polite settings, such as school and work, you are expected to use a socially acceptable form of grammar, but sometimes, you can make an inadvertent mistake. One of the most obvious blunders in socially acceptable grammar is poor subject-verb agreement, and it sticks out like a big nose on your forehead when you do it!

    I is having a bad day today. My alarm clock be going off late this morning and I be getting to school late. I hope Mr. Smith don't get mad because I weren't there for class.

Singular subjects must be coupled with singular verbs, and likewise, plural subjects with plural verbs.

A singular subject, usually a noun, refers to one person, place, or thing.

    class, hamburger, book report, locker, child, woman, mouse

A plural noun refers to more than one. Most nouns become plural just by adding an -s or -es to the end of the word.

    classes, hamburgers, book reports, lockers

Other nouns take a different form when made plural.

    children, women, mice
Fuel For Thought

Some nouns keep the same spelling whether plural or singular.

    deer, moose, sheep, scissors, species, series, jellyfish

Use the meaning of the surrounding words to determine whether these nouns are meant to be plural or singular.

Wanted

A gang of wild moose, sheep, and deer are wanted for a series of coupon-clipping crime sprees. Considered armed and dangerous, they are known to roam neighborhood streets in the early morning hours pilfering newspapers from the driveways and front porches of unsuspecting victims. Wielding sharp scissors, the hooligans swiftly snip away at the highly valued shopping coupons and leave behind piles of shredded paper to blow about the streets haplessly. A reward is offered for the capture of these elusive felons.

Verbs have singular and plural forms as well, in both regular and irregular forms.

When you write a sentence, your subject and verb have to be compatible in number and person. For instance:

Singular: She [singular subject] dances [singular verb] every day.
Plural: They [plural subject] dance [plural verb] every day.
Singular: She [singular subject] goes [singular verb] to dance class every day.
Plural: They [plural subject] go [plural verb] to dance class every day.
Inside Track

When making a regular verb singular, add an -s or -es to the end of the word.

score scores
study studies
cheer cheers
drum drums

For the most part, the subject-verb agreement rule is pretty straightforward. There can, however, be some tricky situations. Let's take a look at them.

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