Key Strategies for Subject Verb Agreement with Practice in SAT Grammar

SAT tips with SAT written in green on a gray keyboard

What is Subject Verb Agreement?

Subject-verb agreement requires a subject and verb in a sentence to agree in number.

In English, subjects and verbs must agree in number. This means that if the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular. If the subject is plural, the verb must be plural.

For example:

  1. Incorrect: The dog in the yard bark loudly.
  2. Correct: The dog in the yard barks loudly.
  • Incorrect: “The dog in the yard bark loudly.” Subject: The dog (singular) Verb: bark (plural, does not match the singular subject)
  • Correct: “The dog in the yard barks loudly.” Subject: The dog (singular) Verb: barks (singular, matches the singular subject)

SAT advice

In the SAT test look for subject-verb agreement errors if different choices contain singular and plural forms of the same verb.

SAT strategy

  • find the subject 
  • is it singular or plural?
  • find the matching verb


  • find the subject  (the dog)
  • is it singular or plural? (dog is single – one dog)
  • find the matching verb (barks matched dog – the dog barks)

SAT tips

Beware of collective noun phrases / preposition phases – ‘a colony of ants’ is singular

    • ‘of ants’ – prepositional phrase
    • ‘colony’ – a collective noun
    • ‘colony of ants’ – a singular body
    • other examples include: a flock of birds, a herd of cattle, a pack of wolves, a school of fish, a pride of lions, a swarm of bees, a pod of dolphins, a troop of monkeys, a litter of puppies, a shoal of fish and a class of students

Subject Verb Agreement - Level 1

one dog eats, two dogs eat

  • One dog eats its food quickly.
  • Every morning, one dog eats alone in the backyard.
  • Two dogs eat from separate bowls.
  • In the evening, two dogs eat together in the kitchen.

Exercise 1: verb singular or plural?

  1. The cat _______ milk every morning. drink or drinks
  2. The dogs _______ loudly at strangers. bark or barks
  3. My sister _______ cookies on Sundays. bake or bakes
  4. The students _______ for their exams. study or studies
  5. A bird _______ across the sky. fly or flies
  6. The flowers _______ in the spring. bloom or blooms

Exercise 2: verb singular or plural?

  1. The cat/cats chase mice in the garden.
  2. The child/children play in the park every day.
  3. The teacher/teachers explains the lesson clearly.
  4. The bird/birds sings in the morning.
  5. The student/students writes essays in English class.
  6. The (dog/dogs) run in the yard.

more explanations and exercises can be found on the word order page of grammar (see )

Subject Verb Agreement - Level 2

In these sentences, the verb form is singular as the subject is treated as one group

  • subject = team of scientists, the committee, each of the books, the herd of elephants, a variety of factors, pair of shoes
  • verbs = is, meets, provides, moves, can, fits
  1. The team of scientists is conducting experiments in the laboratory.
  2. The committee that oversees the project meets every Monday.
  3. Each of the books in the series provides valuable insights into history.
  4. The herd of elephants moves together across the savannah.
  5. A variety of factors can influence the outcome of the experiment
  6. The pair of shoes that I bought fits perfectly

In these sentences, the verb form is plural to match the subject in number as the subject is treated as multiple groups

  • subjects = “teams,” “committees,” “books,” “herds,” “groups,” “collections
  • verbs = “collaborate,” “discuss,” “belong,” “graze,” “visit,” “are exhibited”
  1. Teams of researchers collaborate on scientific studies.
  2. The committees in our organization discuss new policies.
  3. All of the books on the shelf belong to the library.
  4. Herds of cattle graze peacefully in the fields.
  5. Groups of tourists visit the historic landmarks.
  6. Collections of paintings are exhibited at the art gallery.

Exercise 1: Subject-verb agreement with prepositional phrases and collective nouns

  1. The team of scientists _______ diligently on their research projects.
    • work or works
  2. The committee that oversees the project _______ meeting next week.
    • is or are
  3. Each of the books in the series _______ a different aspect of history.
    • explores or explore
  4. The herd of elephants _______ peacefully in the reserve.
    • grazes or graze
  5. The group of friends _______ to a new restaurant every weekend.
    • goes or go
  6. The collection of rare coins _______ displayed at the museum.
    • is or are

Exercise 2: Subject-verb agreement with singular or plural nouns in complex sentences

  1. The majority of the students _______ excited about the upcoming field trip.
    • is or are
  2. A number of issues _______ to be addressed before the project can proceed.
    • need or needs
  3. The pair of shoes that I bought _______ comfortable enough for long walks.
    • is or are
  4. A group of protesters _______ outside the government building demanding reforms.
    • stand or stands
  5. The family of four _______ planning a vacation to Europe next summer.
    • is or are
  6. A variety of factors _______ contribute to the success of a business.
    • can or can

Subject Verb Agreement - Level 3


Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English? Choose 1 answer:

When a fire burns red or green or blue, the color of its flames ______ the chemical composition of the combustible material.

  • A indicate
  • B indicates
  • C have indicated
  • D are indicating

The singular verb “indicates” agrees with its singular subject “color”.

Neapolitan pizza made with San Marzano tomatoes ______ considered more traditional than one made with any other type of tomatoes.

  • A are
  • B have been
  • C is
  • D were

The singular verb “is” agrees in number with the singular subject “pizza”.

The sum of money one donates to registered nonprofit organizations ______ a deduction that can be made from one’s taxable income.

  • A represent
  • B represents
  • C have represented
  • D are representing

The singular verb “represents” agrees in number with the singular subject “sum”.

Called embouchure, the shape of a skilled trumpet player’s lips ______ for playing a wide range of notes with clear tone and without muscle strain.

  • A allows
  • B are allowing
  • C allow
  • D have allowed

The singular verb “allows” agrees with its singular subject “shape”.

These examples are based on the example exercises found at Khan Academy


Awarded a Newbery Medal honor, the novel Doll Bones are the story of three children’s quest to return a haunted doll to its proper grave site.

  • A No Change
  • B is
  • C were
  • D have been

American lobsters, a delicacy along much of North America’s Atlantic coastline, is considered most delicious during the late summer months after they have completed their shedding process.

  • A No Change
  • B was
  • C are
  • D has been

More than 20 species of sharks and rays dwell in Gabon’s new 18,000-square-mile marine sanctuary, which offer a refuge to many rare and threatened species. offers

  • A No Change
  • B have offered
  • C were offering
  • D offers

Some consider it foolish to build one’s own hot-air balloon to travel around the world; others might call it a brilliant way to avoid rising rates in air travel.

  • A No Change
  • B considers
  • C is considering
  • D has considered

These are example SAT Exercises from Khan Academy

Level 3 Answers:

  1. is
  2. are
  3. offers – This choice maintains agreement between the singular subject “sanctuary” and the singular verb “offers”.
  4. NO CHANGE – This choice maintains agreement between the plural subject “some” and the plural verb “consider”.

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