The Writing Section on the SAT requires that you have an understanding of subject-verb agreement, one of the most common grammatical mistakes people make. So, let’s first review how to identify the subject and verb of a sentence.

A subject and verb are essential to a sentence. The verb is a word or group of words that tells what is happening in the sentence.

Identify the verbs in the following sentences:

1. Sherlock solved the mystery.

2. Lisa is reading The Great Gatsby for the fourth time.

3. Nothing pleases me more than hearing the bluebird in the tree sing beautifully.

4. The brown dogs and the orange cats jumped over the fence.

A subject must be a noun or a noun substitute (pronoun, gerund, or noun phrase).

Identify the subjects in the following sentences:

1. Michael’s car needs an oil change and new brakes.

2. For tonight’s homework, the math teacher told her class to review for tomorrow’s quiz.

3. The lemur is a good example of an animal that can be found at the zoo.

4. Jessica sent the email to her mother last night.

If you had difficulty identifying the subjects in the previous sentences, try this:

1. Identify the verb in the sentence.

2. The subject is generally the answer to the question who or what performed the verb.

    Examples

1. Michael’s car needs an oil change and new brakes. What needs?

2. For tonight’s homework, the math teacher told her class to review for tomorrow’s quiz. Who told?

3. The lemur is a good example of an animal that can be found at the zoo. What is?

4. Jessica sent the email to her mother last night. Who sent?

Now, let’s talk about subject-verb agreement.

The rule is: The subject of a sentence has to agree with its verb. Singular subjects go with singular verbs, and plural subjects go with plural verbs.

Incorrect: Maria walk her dog every day.

Correct: Maria walks her dog every day.

Try these:

1. My dad always bake/bakes a cake for my birthday.

2. The lions drink/drinks a lot of water.

3. Murphy and George, my two dogs, eat/eats dinner every night at 6:00.

4. The team is/are going to practice after school.

*Caution! Collective nouns (family, audience, class, team, flock, jury, etc.) take a singular noun when the members of the collective act as a unit. When the members of the collective act as individuals, the collective noun takes a plural verb.

5. The majority of voters dislike/dislikes the candidate.

    Answers

1. bakes

2. drink

3. eat *Subjects can be compounded with the conjunction and, and these subjects will always take a plural verb.

4. is

5. dislike

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