In India, where English is widely used in both work and personal situations, non-native speakers often struggle with when to use singular or plural verbs.

Imagine this: you're in a business meeting. You say, "The team work hard," but then wonder, "Should it be 'work' or 'works' on weekends?" The silence in the room makes you realize your grammar mistake, making things uncomfortable.

Understanding when to use singular or plural verbs is really important. In English, verbs must match their subjects in number (singular or plural). For example, we say 'she dances' (singular verb with singular subject) but 'they dance' (plural verb with plural subject).

Using the wrong verb can cause confusion and misunderstandings. It can also make you seem less professional, especially in important situations like job interviews or meetings.

But don't worry! This article will explain singular and plural verbs clearly. Our goal is to make navigating English grammar easier for you. We'll use simple explanations, relatable examples, exercises, and strategies to help you use singular and plural verbs correctly in everyday conversations and work situations.

Stay tuned as we explore this topic together!

What Are Singular And Plural Verbs?

Singular and plural verbs are a fundamental part of English grammar. A singular verb refers to an action performed by a single subject. While a plural verb indicates an action carried out by more than one subject. In other words, if the noun in your sentence is singular, the used verb should also be singular. Conversely, if the noun is plural, then the verb should be plural.

For example,

  • Singular: The cat (singular noun) chases (singular verb) the mouse.

  • Plural: The cats (plural noun) chase (plural verb) the mouse.

Here are some commonly used singular and plural verbs:

  1. Eats/Eat: Ram eats an apple (Singular). Ram and Shyam eat apples (Plural).

  2. Is/Are: She is my friend (Singular). They are my friends (Plural).

  3. Runs/Run: Manu runs fast (Singular). Manu and Sonu run fast (Plural).

Understanding how to use singular and plural verbs properly is key to mastering English grammar. However, the English language doesn't follow the rules blindly. There's one important rule you should know about. It is called 'subject-verb agreement'.

Exploring Subject-Verb Agreement

Verb agreement, also known as subject-verb agreement, is a grammar rule stating that the verb must match its subject in person and number.

This means if your subject is singular, your verb must be singular, and if your subject is plural, your verb must be plural.

For instance,

  • Compound Subject: Vinita and Suresh (plural subject) are going to school together.

  • Collective Noun: The team has won the match.

In "Vinita and Suresh are going to school together", 'Vinita and Suresh' form a plural subject due to the 'and' conjunction, requiring a plural verb. In contrast, in "The team has won the match", 'team' is a collective noun representing multiple individuals acting as one. So it takes a singular verb.

Understanding these subject-verb agreement rules is crucial for correctly speaking English. For instance, 'The girl is reading a book' (singular subject and verb) contrasts with 'The girls are reading books' (plural subject and verb), illustrating subject-verb agreement.

Indian speakers often struggle with verb agreement due to regional language influences. One common mistake is using a plural verb with 'everyone,' which is singular. For example, saying 'Everyone are happy' is incorrect. It should be 'Everyone is happy'. Errors also occur with collective nouns or indefinite pronouns.

Why Is Verb Agreement Crucial?

Verb agreement is the backbone of English grammar, acting as the glue that holds a sentence together. It ensures that your sentences make sense and are understood by others.

Consider this scenario: you're at a business meeting and say, "The manager with his assistants are coming." This sentence sounds odd. Why? Because it disregards the rule of subject-verb agreement. The correct sentence should be, "The manager with his assistants is coming." By using the singular verb 'is', you match it with the singular subject 'manager', even though 'assistants' is plural. This clarity avoids confusion, ensuring effective communication.

Furthermore, mastering verb agreement significantly enhances your fluency and confidence in English. In professional settings like job interviews or presentations, accurate usage demonstrates your proficiency in English, creating a positive impression.

Moreover, ignoring verb agreement can lead to embarrassing misunderstandings. For instance, saying "The dogs chases the cat" instead of "The dogs chase the cat" may cause confusion about how many dogs are involved in the action.

To sum up, knowing whether to use a singular or plural verb is not just about following grammatical rules. It's about imparting clear and precise information without confusion.

How Do Singular Verbs Differ From Plural Verbs?

Understanding the distinction between singular and plural verbs is important in mastering English language fluency. A common challenge for non-native English speakers, the correct usage of singular and plural verbs hinges primarily on subject-verb agreement.

The following table shows the difference:

Singular Verb

Plural Verb

Relates to a single subject

Relates to multiple subjects

Examples: walks, sleeps, eats

Examples: walk, sleep, eat

The rule is fairly straightforward. A singular verb accompanies a singular subject. While a plural verb pairs with a plural subject. For instance:

  • Gayathri (singular subject) loves (singular verb) biryani.

  • The children (plural subject) play (plural verb) cricket in the park.

Here are the key differences summarised for you:

  1. Subject relationship: Singular verbs correspond with single entities while plural verbs pair with multiple entities or groups.

  2. Endings: Singular verbs often end in 's' or 'es', whereas plural verbs don’t.

  3. Sentence structure: In sentences, singular subjects are followed by singular verbs. While plural subjects are accompanied by plural verbs.

  4. Compound Subjects: When two subjects are joined by 'and', we usually use a plural verb unless the compound subject is considered as one entity. (We'll take a detailed look at compound subjects in the following section.)

Remember these key points while speaking or writing in English and you'll observe a significant boost in your language fluency.

Handling Compound Subjects

Compound subjects refer to instances where two or more nouns or pronouns are connected by conjunctions (like 'and', 'or'). The most important question here is - do they take up singular verbs or plural verbs?

Well, if the compound subjects are connected by 'and', they typically require plural verbs. For example: "Rahul and Meera are attending the conference." The two subjects (Rahul and Meera) joined by 'and' use the plural verb ‘are’ as they are a single unit.

However, when compound subjects are connected by 'or' or 'nor', decide between singular or plural verbs based on the subject closer to the verb. For instance, in the sentence, "Either the manager or his assistants are responsible", 'assistants' is closer to the verb, hence, we use ‘are’ and not 'is'.

Understanding subject-verb agreement including compound subjects can be tricky. But it can be learned with some practice. 

Practical Tips For Mastering Singular And Plural Verbs

Mastering the use of singular and plural verbs can seem daunting. But with regular practice and these actionable tips, you'll be on your way to becoming more confident.

1. Understand Subject-Verb Agreement:

The fundamental rule for using singular and plural verbs is subject-verb agreement. A singular subject takes a singular verb. While a plural subject takes a plural verb. For example, "She dances" (singular) and "They dance" (plural).

2. Identify Singular and Plural Nouns:

Often, the confusion between singular and plural verbs arises from difficulty in distinguishing between singular and plural nouns. Brushing up on your understanding of singular and plural nouns can help you choose the right verb form.

3. Beware of Exceptions:

English has its share of exceptions. Some words like 'news', 'mathematics', and 'physics' are singular even though they end in 's'.

4. Compound Subjects:

When two or more subjects are joined by 'and’, use a plural verb. For instance, "Ahmed and Riaz are going to the market." However, when the compound subject is joined by 'or’ / ‘nor’, the verb agrees with the noun or pronoun closest to it.

5. Practice through Real-life Scenarios:

Use every conversation as an opportunity to practice. Whether you're ordering food at a restaurant or discussing cricket with friends, consciously apply these rules.

Apart from mastering the singular verb and plural verb, there are also many other tips and strategies for you to improve your English fluency. Check out this Clapingo blog to know more.

Exercises to Master Singular and Plural Verbs

Let's dive into a few exercises that will help you test your understanding of the subject-verb agreement.

Exercise 1: Choose the Correct Verb Form

Select the correct verb form - singular or plural - to complete each sentence.

  1. The book (is/are) on the table.

  2. My friends (lives/live) in different cities.

  3. She (likes/like) to write poems.

  4. They (plays/play) cricket every evening.

  5. The collection of paintings (is/are) impressive.

Exercise 2: Fill in the Blanks

Fill in the blanks with either a singular or plural verb form, as appropriate.

  1. The house on the corner _______ for sale.

  2. Most of my family _______ vegetarian food.

  3. Neither of my parents _______ travelled abroad before.

  4. The team _______ ready for their presentation today.

  5. A group of boys _______ playing football near my house.

Exercise 3: Correcting Errors

Identify and correct any errors in subject-verb agreement in these sentences:

  1. My dogs is very playful.

  2. Is there any books left?

  3. His phone are on the table.

  4. Each of these problems seems difficult at first, but they are actually quite easy!

  5. Either my brother or his friends shops at this store regularly.


Exercise 1: 1. is, 2. live, 3. likes, 4. play, 5. is

Exercise 2: 1. is, 2. prefers, 3. has, 4. is, 5. are

Exercise 3:

  1. My dogs are very playful.

  2. Are there any books left?

  3. His phone is on the table.

  4. Each of these problems seems difficult at first, but it is actually quite easy!

  5. Either my brother or his friends shop at this store regularly.

To gain more practice and enhance your command over singular and plural verbs, explore worksheets and exercises available online.

How Clapingo Can Support Your Journey

Clapingo's personalized coaching sessions make learning singular and plural verbs easier. Our expert tutors teach English grammar rules through real-world examples, making lessons relatable and effective.

These sessions help you understand subject-verb agreement and practice using singular and plural nouns in conversation. You will practice with native English speakers, learning correct usage and different accents.

Clapingo offers flexible scheduling to fit your pace. It suits working professionals and students alike. With Clapingo, you can master singular and plural verbs effectively.

Want to see Clapingo tutors in action? Check out these session videos from Clapingo's YouTube channel.

A Quick Recap

Knowing how to use singular and plural verbs correctly is key to mastering English. This involves making sure singular subjects have singular verbs, and plural subjects have plural verbs.

For example, "She dances well" shows a singular subject with a singular verb. "They dance well" shows a plural subject with a plural verb.

Remember, some group nouns like "team" use a singular verb, as in "The team is playing well." Because 'the team' is considered a single unit.

We also discussed compound subjects. When subjects are joined by 'and', use a plural verb: “Ravi and Ritu are going to the conference.” If linked by 'or' or 'either/or', match the verb to the subject closest to the verb: “Either my brother or my sisters are doing laundry.”

Following these examples daily can improve your English. Practice regularly to gain confidence and grow personally and professionally.

Clapingo can help you learn these rules through personalized coaching. Every lesson moves you closer to fluency. Keep learning and practicing with Clapingo’s support. Start this exciting journey to master English today!


1. What is the difference between singular verbs and plural verbs?

Singular verbs are used when the subject of a sentence is singular, like a single person or thing, whereas plural verbs are used when the subject is more than one person or thing. For instance, 'Raj reads a book' (singular verb) versus 'Raj and Anjali read books' (plural verb).

2. How do I know if a verb is singular or plural?

In English grammar, most verbs become singular when they end in '-s' or '-es'. For example, 'He plays football.' On the other hand, if there's no '-s' or '-es' at the end of the verb, it's usually plural. For instance, 'They play football.'

3. What happens when there's a compound subject in a sentence?

A compound subject is when two or more subjects are joined by 'and' or 'or'. With 'and', we usually use plural verbs as we're referring to multiple entities like 'Raj and Anjali are friends.' But with 'or', it’s crucial to look at the subject closer to the verb for correct subject-verb agreement: ‘Either Raj or his friends are coming.’

4. Do words like ‘everyone’ and ‘someone’ take singular or plural verbs?

Despite referring collectively to many individuals, words like everyone, someone, nobody, etc., are considered singular nouns and take singular verbs. Example: ‘Everyone is responsible for their own luggage.’