Complex Subject-Verb Agreement: Inverted Order, Compound Subjects & Interrupting Phrases


According to Garner’s Modern English Usage, it can be understood that subjects and verbs should agree in person and should have an agreement with a number of nouns or pronouns. Subject-Verb Agreement generally has various rules that will be explained below with examples. The major rules of the Subject-Verb Agreement highlights how subjects and verbs are separated through joining phrases or words.

What is a Subject-Verb Agreement?

Subjects and verbs that are making a complete sentence should have an agreement with numbers including singular or plural and person including first, second, or third person. This rule of Subject-Verb Agreement depicts that the subjects that are in singular numbers will only take singular verbs and the subjects that are in plural numbers will choose plural verbs. The rules of this Subject-Verb Agreement have major rules where it can be seen that a sentence can be joined by or/and in the case of compound subjects. Indefinite pronouns can be used as subjects to form a sentence. Intervening and interrupting phrases can also be used to make a sentence meaningful.

Rules of Subject-Verb Agreement

Several major rules are explained below that highlight the necessity of the use of subjects and verbs in sentences. The explanation of the rules also guides how inverted subjects, compound and singular subjects, and intervening and interrupting phrases are applied in the sentences to join the sentence by keeping its meaning.

The key rules of Subject-Verb Agreement are explained below with examples.

Rule 1: Compound subjects that are joined by “and”

The compound subjects that are joined by and are generally determined as plural and thus utilize plural verbs.

Examples −

  • Santa and Rita are playing the piano. [Plural subject agrees with plural verb].

  • Breads and eggs are the perfect breakfast dish. [Plural subject agrees with plural verb].

Rule 2: Compound subjects are joined by “or”

Compound subjects that are usually joined by or/either . . . or/neither . . . nor and verbs that are singular or plural. If both the subjects are the singular, they will utilize a verb, which is also singular. Other than this rule if both subjects are plural, then they will utilize a verb that is plural.

Examples −

  • Neither rats nor guinea pigs are good as pets. [Plural subjects agree with plural verbs].

  • Mom or dad will go to my school tomorrow. [Singular subjects agree with singular verb].

Rule 3: Forming sentences with Interrupting Phrases

Interrupting Phrases is determined as the group of words that generally interrupts to a sentence flow and are set off by commas, dashes, or parentheses. This type of phrase can be utilised in sentences that denote a question, exclamation, and statement.

Examples −

  • She is less obsessive, organized, and creative than all others. [Here, the sentence is interrupted with commas].

  • Neha was a small-town girl - She is very lonely - None wants to make friends with her. [Here, the sentence is interrupted with dashes].

Rule 4: Inverted Subject-Verb Order rule to form error-free sentences

The sentences that have subjects in an inverted manner are generally determined as the inverted order sentences. In these types of sentences, the subjects also follow the verbs. The sentences generally start with preposition phrases and the words here or there, or the verb form of doing. The singular subjects here highly agree with singular verbs and plural subjects agree with plural verbs. The sentences can also start with the preposition phrase where the question can be asked to understand Who? or What? is doing the work.

Examples −

  • The fruits are added to the dish to make it tastier. [Here, in this sentence, fruits is the plural subject that highly agrees with the plural verb are].

  • The researcher of the project has successfully completed his task before the deadline. [Here, in this sentence, researcher is the singular subject that highly agrees with the singular verb has].


All the above rules need to be understood to write error-free sentences. The subject-verb concord concept highly matters when present tenses are utilized in the sentence. In the dictionary of Collins, it can be seen that the term concord is explained in a way the word has an appropriate form to gender number of pronouns or nouns it has a relation with. Apart from this present tense, other tenses like those that simple past and simple future deals with a similar verb that is always utilized irrespective of subject that is there in a sentence.


Q1. What are the examples of Subject-Verb Agreement that highlight all its rules?

Ans. Some common examples of Subject-Verb Agreement are stated below.

  • My sisters and I are going to sing a song in a program today. [Compound subjects joined with and].

  • Everyone in my office is invited to attend the party tonight. [Indefinite pronouns agree with singular verb is].

  • The students are playing on the ground. [The students here refer to a single child of the group so it agrees to plural verb are].

Q2. What do you understand by Inverted Subject-Verb Order?

Ans. In the case of all invested sentences, the subjects generally follow the verbs present in that sentence. Here, the sentences will start with a prepositional phrase where question will arise with Who? or What? is doing the task.

Examples −

  • My friend has bought a flower for my class teacher. [The singular verb has agreed with the singular subject friend].

  • The gardeners are watering the flowering plants. [The plural verb are agreeing with the plural subject gardeners].

Q3. What are the examples of Intervening Phrases?

Ans. The major examples that can show the rules of Intervening Phrases are stated below.

  • The teacher, along with her students, completes the projects. [Here, along with is denoted as the Intervening Phrase].

  • The football team with the blue jersey is my favourite. [Here, with is the Intervening Phrase].