Subject Verb Agreement   Leave a comment

Hello, everyone!

I like the tip to be something that many people need to work on.  One of the most important tips I can give about errors that I hear all of my students continue to make is when they are speaking in the present tense.  Students are doing a much better job of catching themselves when they need to speak in the past tense, and have begun to catch the conditional tense more often.  Unfortunately, there is a very easy to fix error that everyone is still consistently making in the present tense.  Remember that all verb tenses must be conjugated for number.  Most of you are not conjugating your present tense speech for the number of subjects.

I hear sentences like this:

He have a lot of apples.

What is wrong with that sentence?

Everyone seems to be able to catch the problem when I suggest there is a problem with the sentence (There is only one in the subject, but your verb “have” is for when the subject is two or more).

He has a lot of apples.

It is important that you begin to catch these on your own, because you all know that this is very basic.  This is an error that all of my students (intermediates and advanced students) know about and need to self-correct.  You all do a much better job with the past tense now, so now let’s focus on the making nouns and verbs agree in number when you are speaking in the present tense.


Laurie (run, runs) 5 miles every day.

Chickens and turkeys (is, are) poultry (farm birds).

Jane (think, thinks) she should finish painting her house before the weather (change, changes).

The students (practice, practices) math every day, but (is, are) not ready for the test.


Runs (I am just one person).

are (more than one farm animal)

thinks (one person) /changes (one thing – weather)

practice (many students) / are (many students)

Those compound sentences are harder, aren’t they?  There are two verbs to conjugate.

What is the best way to self-correct?  All of my regular students self-correct very well when they have forgotten to use the past tense.  What did you do?  How did you accomplish this? You slowed down a bit and thought about what you had said after you said it.  Once you have mastered the verb tense, you can speed up.


Posted October 19, 2013 by laurieflood in Uncategorized

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