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Subject-verb agreement

Course: Grammar lab, Unit: Sentence formation

  • 60 min
  • In class
  • Grammar
  • B1
  • B2


Learning goals

  • Understand ways to create accurate sentences with correct subject–verb agreement
  • Improve written and spoken accuracy when forming sentences

Published by

EF Education First


Success criteria

  • Identify the subject and the verb in a sentence
  • Understand sentence structure in relation to subject–verb agreement
  • Correctly answer questions on the different types of nouns, structures, and phrases that take singular or plural verbs
  • Create written and spoken sentences with correct subject–verb agreement

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Activities (10)

Introduction

Introduction

Recommendations

  • 2 mins
  • Class
  • Core activity


Student instructions

No instructions.


Teacher notes

No teacher notes.

 

Warm up

Warm up

Recommendations

  • 4 min
  • Pair, Group
  • Core activity


Student instructions

Read the reference material 'Accuracy and fluency' and answer the questions.


Teacher notes

The aim of this activity is to introduce the grammar activities in the lesson, and highlight the roles of accuracy and fluency when using English.

After students have discussed the questions, explain that the lesson will focus on some aspects of written and spoken accuracy.

 

Lead in

Lead in

Recommendations

  • 4 mins
  • Group
  • Core activity


Student instructions

Order the words in the list according to their importance in your life. Then tell another student why they are important or not important, making a sentence with each word.


Example:

My favourite clothes brands are Nike and Adidas because they're stylish.

My appearance isn't important to me because I don't care what other people think.


Teacher notes

Suggested answers

The aim of this activity is to introduce the topic of subject and verb agreement by having students make sentences using the words in the list as the subject.

Discuss whether students think the subjects should take a singular or plural verb. You may wish to review the answers at the end of the lesson, to test students' progress.

 

Identify the subject

Identify the subject

Recommendations

  • 7mins
  • Individual, Pair
  • Core activity


Student instructions

When we want subjects and verbs to agree, it's important to identify the subject. Read the reference and highlight the subject in each sentence. Some subjects contain more than one word.


Teacher notes

The aim of this activity is to practise correctly identifying the subject in a sentence.

If students are having difficulty identifying subjects, have them first locate the active verb in each sentence, and then try to work out who or what is doing the verb.

 

Choose the correct verb

Choose the correct verb

Recommendations

  • 7 mins
  • Individual, Pair
  • Core activity


Student instructions

Once you are able to identify the subject of a sentence, you can then know whether to use a singular or plural verb. Read the reference material 'The rules of subject–verb agreement' and choose the correct verb to agree with the subject.


Teacher notes

The aim of this activity is to identify the correct verb that agrees with the subject of each sentence.

Have students check in a dictionary to find out whether nouns take plural or singular forms.


Extension

Ask students to identify the subject of each sentence.

 

Sentence structure

Sentence structure

Recommendations

  • 7 mins
  • Individual, Pair
  • Support activity


Student instructions

Read the reference material 'Sentence structure' and write the correct present tense form of the verb to be to complete the sentences.


Teacher notes

The aim of this activity is to make sure the verb agrees with the subject in each sentence in relation to sentence structure.


Extension

Have students point out the subject of each sentence.

 

Different types of subjects

Different types of subjects

Recommendations

  • 7 mins
  • Individual, Pair
  • Core activity


Student instructions

Read the reference material 'Different types of subjects' and choose the sentences with the correct subject–verb agreement. In some cases, both options may be correct.


Teacher notes

The aim of this activity is to correctly use verbs with different types of subjects.

Language note

US English speakers are more likely to prefer to use singular verbs with collective nouns than speakers of British English, although this is an uncertain area of the language, and there is a lot of debate as to the correct usage. A dictionary can indicate which rule a collective noun follows, but it is important for students to be consistent with their use of these nouns.

 

Describe photos

Describe photos

Recommendations

  • 8 mins
  • Individual, Pair
  • Support activity


Student instructions

Write a short description for each photo, with one or two sentences giving your opinion on it. Use the words to create sentences with the correct subject–verb agreement.

Example:

This is a happy family. Everyone should spend time with the people they care about.


Teacher notes

The aim of this activity is to give students freer practice in using the target language of the lesson.

Have students review each other's work for accuracy.

The things in the photos are the same as the things students discussed in Lead in. Encourage them to be more ambitious and creative in their sentences now, as well as check their accuracy.

 

Describe a video

Describe a video

Recommendations

  • 10 mins
  • Pair, Group
  • Challenge activity


Student instructions

No instructions.


Teacher notes

The aim of this activity is to practise subject–verb agreement in spoken situations.

Have students correct each other's mistakes when they are listening to the descriptions.

Variation

Run the activity as a game. Groups describe a music video to another group. The other group has to guess which video is being described. Groups can win points for forming correct sentences and guessing the video correctly, but lose points for mistakes and wrong guesses.

 

Exit ticket

Exit ticket

Recommendations

  • 4 mins
  • Individual, Pair
  • Core activity


Student instructions

Answer the questions and discuss them with a partner.


Teacher notes

The aim of this activity is for students to reflect on what they learned and what they didn't understand in the lesson, and discuss this with a partner.

 
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