Identify correct subject-verb agreement in a sentence

This post is part of a series relating to the Minimum Standards for Grammar and Punctuation in the NAPLAN tests. For the first post in this series, click here.

At Year 7 level, the students are expected to be able to:

  • identify correct subject-verb agreement in a sentence

Getting your subject to agree with your verb is easier than convincing a cat to lick itself.

© Dimitri Torterat, CC-by,

© Dimitri Torterat, CC-by,

This basically boils down to:

If the subject is singular (e.g. a bike), use a singular verb (e.g. is). If the subject is plural (e.g. some bikes), use a plural verb (e.g. are).

  • My bike is stored on my porch.
  • My bikes are stored on my porch.

There is a long list of qualifications and clarifications on this site here, which, with mastery, will put that internal monologue in your head about whether you should have said, ‘This tin of sardines is/are too much for my cat’ to sleep.

In their example test, the NAP go all out with this one:


The confusing part is that they have added tense into the equation. When we separate one from the other and only look at subject-verb agreement we just need to work out whether it is ‘was’ or ‘were’.

To do so you have to break it down. What is the subject? The first of Tim Winton’s novels. How many novels are they talking about? Just one. So, singular, ‘was’.

More help in regards to tense can be found in this post about identifying the correct form of the verb.



About timthelibrarian

Tim Harwood is a Teacher Librarian and eLearning enthusiast.
This entry was posted in Grammar, NAPLAN, Punctuation. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Identify correct subject-verb agreement in a sentence

  1. Pingback: Grammar and punctuation | Tim the Librarian

  2. Pingback: Identify the phrase required to complete a sentence | Tim the Librarian

  3. Pingback: Identify the tense of a short passage | Tim the Librarian

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