LEARN A WORD A DAY

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Subject Verb Agreement

One of the most common types of grammatical error in students’ English is called ‘agreement’. Agreement means that the verb changes depending on the type of noun it refers to. See below for examples. The grammar rules for agreement are reasonably clear and simple.

Grammar
English regular present tense verbs have an 's' or 'es' on the end when the subject is he, she, it, a person, or a singular or uncountable noun; e.g. He likes, She jumps, It goes, Fred plays, the biscuit tastes good, Water flows. Irregular verbs also change, but differently; e.g. He does, She has, It is.

Examples:

  • ‘I like him.’ ‘I’ is singular and a first person pronoun, so the verb is ‘like’.
  • ‘She likes him.’ ‘She’ is singular, but a third person pronoun (so are ‘it’ and ‘he’), so the verb is ‘likes’.
  • ‘This student likes grammar.’ ‘Student’ is a singular noun, so the verb is ‘likes’.
  • ‘The dog likes him.’ ‘The dog’ is a thing, and is singular, so the verb is ‘likes’.
  • ‘Dogs like him.’ ‘Dogs’ is a plural noun, so the verb is ‘like’.
  • ‘The food here tastes nice’. ‘Food’ is uncountable, so use a verb that matches third person singular.
  • ‘Beer is cheap.’ ‘Beer is an uncountable noun in this sentence, so use ‘is’.
  • ‘These two beers are nice, but that one is horrible’. This means ‘These two types of beer’, so because there are two types, and types of beer are countable, use ‘are’. Drinks are often uncountable, but countable when they are types, in bottles or glasses; e.g. “Can I have an orange juice?”

Notes:

  1. After words such as ‘must’ and ‘will’ use an infinitive verb without ‘to’; e.g. “He must tell me what happens.”
  2. The main verb should agree with the main noun, e.g. in “The research in these reports shows that I am correct.”, the verb shows agrees with research, as research is the main noun in the noun phrase The research in these reports. Research is an uncountable noun, so shows has an 's' at the end.
  3. Tense is more important than the number of subjects; e.g. The software will arrive tomorrow. Even though software is uncountable, and therefore should be followed by a verb with 's' at the end, tomorrow is more important, so the tense of the verb (will arrive) shows the tense.

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Collection of SPM English Language Question Papers

2005
Terengganu Trial [Paper 1]

2007
Johor Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Terengganu Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Pahang Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2] [Answers], Melaka Trial 2007 [Paper 1] [Paper 2], TIMES [Paper 1] [Paper 2] SPB [Paper 1] [Paper 2]

2008

Terengganu Mid Year [Paper 1] [Paper 2],
Trial
MRSM Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], SBP Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Kelantan Trial [Paper 1 & 2], Terengganu Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Kedah Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Pahang Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Johor Trial [Paper 1 & 2], Perlis Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Sabah Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Sarawak Trial [Paper 1 & 2], Melaka Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2]

2009

Terengganu TOV [Paper 1] [Paper 2] Terengganu Mid Year [Paper 1] [Paper 2]
Melaka Trial , Johor Trial , Sabah Trial , Kedah Trial , Perlis Trial , Times , SBP , Pahang Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2]

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