Everyday English 1
Everyday English 1

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Everyday English 1

4.5 Verb and subject agreement

Earlier you practised identifying the subject of the sentence. You have just looked at making sure the verb is in the right tense. What you are going to look at now is making sure that the verb and the subject agree so that the sentence makes sense.

Two of the most common verbs in English are ‘to be’ and ‘to have’. Look at the following tables that show how these verbs are used in the past, present and future tenses.

‘To be’: past, present and future tense

Past Present Future
I was I am I will be
You were You are You will be
He/she/it was He/she/it is He/she/it will be
We were We are We will be
You were You are You will be
They were They are They will be

‘To have’: past, present and future tense

Past Present Future
I had I have I will have
You had You have You will have
He/she/it had He/she/it has He/she/it will have
We had We have We will have
You had You have You will have
They had They have They will have

Activity 31 Verb–subject agreement

Allow about 10 minutes

Look at the following sentences which all use the verbs ‘to be’ and ‘to have’. They all contain errors. Rewrite them in the box using the correct form of the verb. Keep the tense the same; for example, if the original sentence is in the present tense, rewrite it in the present tense too.

The girls is tired.

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I has a very bad cold.

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They was late for the appointment.

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He will had a birthday next week.

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Answer

Here are the sentences with the correct tenses:

  • The girls are tired.

  • I have a very bad cold.

  • They were late for the appointment.

  • He will have a birthday next week.

Now try four more.

We is going to Liverpool on the train.

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They will has a new person starting work next week.

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The film were really good.

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They has moved to a new house.

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Answer

Here are the sentences with the correct tenses:

  • We are going to Liverpool on the train.

  • They will have a new person starting work next week.

  • The film was really good.

  • They have moved to a new house.

Activity 32 Correcting verb–subject agreement

Allow about 10 minutes

Rewrite the following sentences, changing either the subject or the verb so they agree. There might be more than one alternative that would make sense.

Six boys is looking for a lost memory stick.

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They goes to the cinema on Wednesdays.

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Sarah have left her book on the bus.

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The last train leave at 7.30 pm.

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I loves fishing at the weekend.

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Answer

Here are some alternatives:

  • ‘Six boys are looking for a lost memory stick’ or ‘A boy is looking for a lost memory stick.’

  • ‘They go to the cinema on Wednesdays’ or ‘She goes to the cinema on Wednesdays.’

  • ‘Sarah has left her book on the bus’ or ‘They have left her book on the bus.’

  • ‘The last train leaves at 7.30 pm’ or ‘The last trains leave at 7.30 pm.’

  • ‘I love fishing at the weekend’ or ‘She loves fishing at the weekend.’

You now move on to look at the other thing that can help you to write clearly: punctuation.

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