Subject-Verb Agreement

In this lesson, students select the correct verb to compose an acceptable sentence.


  • Practise composing sentences with appropriate Subject-Verb agreement.
  • Identify acceptable patterns in Standard English.

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that today, we will select the correct verb on the smart board, to construct acceptable sentences.

This lesson hinges on the idea of agreement - the way that a verb must match the Subject of a sentence. For many students, this will be intuitive. For others, particularly speakers of regional varieties of English, this will not be intuitive. 

The first step is to practise selecting the appropriate verb in the Activity pages in the right hand menu. Each slide presents a sentence with a slot for a Subject and a verb. The verb slot can be scrolled up or down to view different options. The students should select the appropriate option.

After you've worked through some examples, start to make a list: what do you notice about all of the verb options? For lexical verbs, each verb can take an -s suffix, or not. For be verbs, the choices given are is, am, and are. Make a list of which Subjects appear with which verbs. 

Students should begin to see that the -s suffix appears with he, she, and it as Subjects. That is, it appears with third person Subjects that are singular. Is, am, and are attach to Subjects with different person and number as well. 

Recognising this pattern explicitly will help students who don't intuitively know the correct answer. For many students, I was is part of a non-standard regional way of speaking. That's fine in some contexts (at home, on the playground), but not in others (in the classroom, or at a job interview). It's important to explore these distinctions, and to help students learn to switch from one variety, and one register, to another. The National Curriculum calls for students to learn about standard and non-standard elements of English - learning about both can help students understand each one more completely.

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