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Basic Grammar and Punctuation

An AARC writing resource

Subject / Verb Agreement

How To Check Verbs

Verbs are the main part of a sentence. They provide action or help to describe the subject. Every sentence requires at least one verb.

Learn all about verbs on the Verb Review page. Check out the helpful links on this page for verb practice. Below are some common verb errors and how to check them.

Common Error #1: Subject-Verb Agreement
Verbs must match the subject of the sentence in number (singular or plural). For singular nouns and third-person pronouns (he, she, it), add an s to the verb. For plural nouns and other pronouns, don’t add an s to the verb. For example: 
 

Wrong She offer students free tutoring. (Singular third-person pronoun requires s on verb)

RightShe offers students free tutoring. (The s is correctly added to the verb)

RightMary and John listen to their professor. (Plural subject, so no s)

 
A handful of English verbs have multiple unique forms. See examples of irregular verbs here.
 
Common Error #2: Inconsistent Verb Tense
 

Verbs are often changed to indicate when the action took place. When you decide on a verb tense, you should stay in this tense throughout your paper. For example:

Wrong – He asked me to dinner, ordered an expensive meal, then leaves me the check. (Asked and ordered are in past tense, but leaves is present tense.)
 
Right – I go to school, hurry to work, and then fall asleep at the end of day. (All present tense.)
 
Our Verb Review page has more information on verb tenses, along with many helpful links!
 
Common Error #3: Simple Past and Past Perfect Forms
 

Sometimes students confuse the past participle form of the verb with the simple past tense. When acting as the main verb of a sentence, the participle form must be combined with a helping verb such as had or was to create the past perfect tense. For example: 

Wrong – I seen my friends over the weekend. 
Right – I saw my friends over the weekend.           (Simple Past tense)
Right – I had seen my friends over the weekend.  (Past Perfect)
 
Do you know the difference between the simple past and past perfect tenses? See our Verb Review page for more!