Key Grammar Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

Our previous lesson looked at the passive voice. Now we will study some essential grammar that many students make mistakes with.

​It is important that verbs and subjects agree and if you want to get a band 7 you need to apply this rule to your speaking and writing. Follow the rule and finish the online activity below before practicing with a recorder.

​The General Rule

​If the subject is singular, then the verb phrase must be singular. If the subject is plural, then the verb phrase must be plural. 

​The chart below shows the relationship of noun and verb in the present tense (3rd person).

  • If the noun is singular, the verb must have an ‘s’.
  • If the noun is plural, the verb does not have an ‘s’.

Now let’s practice.

Nouns Activity

Complete the following sentences by choosing the appropriate form of the verb.

Select the Correct Verb

1. The majority of the students happy with their exam results.
2. The football team made up of English, French and Dutch players.
3. The box found to be empty.
4. Plenty of birds in the wetlands by the coast.
5. The committee every Wednesday morning.
6. The number of teenagers greater than the number of adults.
7. The audience clapping wildly.
8. The data in the second table how the numbers had changed by the end of the period.
9. In the table, the figure to employed people and is higher than for the unemployed.
10. Several forms of public transport popular in Paris, however, the most popular is the metro.
11. An infestation of termites, which eating the furniture in the house, eliminated.
12. The proportion of people who to work lower than the proportion who the bus.

If you are unsure about any of these answers, leave a comment at the bottom of the post and we will answers your questions.
A Few more rules (Click to see)

Nouns such as number/majority/plenty are generally used with a plural verb.

  • For example: The majority were in favour of reaching an agreement.

​When group nouns such as audience/committee/family/government/ are used as subjects, a plural or singular verb may be used, however a singular verb is used most often.

  • For example: The family was very happy with the new house or The family were very happy with the new house (the first sentence is more likely to be used by a native speaker).

​Speaking Practice

​Record yourself answering the following questions. Listen to the recording and note down any mistakes you hear. Next, rerecord yourself answering the questions and try and improve the accuracy of your speaking. You can use the recorder on your phone to do this.
  1. What language do the majority of people from your country speak?
  2. What does your family think about you going to study or live in a foreign country?
  3. What forms of public transport are most popular in your hometown?
  4. Does the government do enough to promote healthy living in your country?

If you have any questions or tips on the topic of plural and singular nouns and verbs, why not leave them in the comments below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

For our next key grammar lesson we will move on to Verb Substitution.