To be grammatically correct, the subject of a sentence must have a verb that matches the number of the subjects. Simply put, this means that a singular subject must have a singular verb, and plural subjects have plural verbs. However, the rules to subject-verb agreement are not always as straightforward. Some indefinite pronouns, such as everyone and everybody, while seemingly plural are singular. Classroom activities can keep kids engaged while reinforcing the concept.
Find the Subject
Identifying the subject of a sentence is paramount to knowing which verb is appropriate. Display sentences for the class in which the subject and verb agree. Ask the students to find the subjects of the sentences. This activity can be used whenever a new idea regarding subject-verb agreement is introduced. For example, in the beginning, select singular and plural nouns or pronouns. The students easily will be able to identify the subjects and the number each represents. Later, with indefinite pronouns, the students must find the subject and say whether it is considered singular, plural or variable.
Rewrite the Sentence
Display a sentence that does not have subject-verb agreement. Ask the students to rewrite the sentence, changing the verb to match the subject. Select students to come to the board and write their sentences for the class to see. Work through the sentences together to make sure all the examples have achieved subject-verb agreement.
Quizzes offer a way for you to check on your students' understanding of the topic. There are many rules to remember regarding subject-verb agreement. Giving small quizzes along the way can help reinforce the ideas you present. The quizzes may include selecting the correct verb or finding the subject of a sentence. Other quizzes can include special rules regarding subject-verb agreement, such as for indefinite pronouns and compound subjects. Giving periodic quizzes allows you to determine which areas the students, individually or as a group, need to work on some more.
Subject-Verb Agreement Bee
Get the whole class involved in a subject-verb agreement bee. For this contest, have the students write their answers on small whiteboards. All students stand to start the game. Write or display a sentence for the entire class to see. The students must write the verb that matches the subject of the sentence and quickly show it to you. Students with incorrect answers must sit down. Keep giving new sentences until only one student -- the winner -- remains standing. Note: All students should write an answer on their whiteboards, even if they are out of the competition.