How Many Is It Again? Subject-Verb Agreement with Adjective Clauses

The verb in an adjective clause must agree with the number of the noun it modifies.

What does that mean?

egg-cup-many-much-count-non-english-esl-how

The egg that is in the picture is in an egg cup.

The subject of the adjective clause = the egg, is singular. A singular subject (egg) needs a singular verb (is).

A carton of white eggs with one egg used.

The eggs that are in the picture are in the carton.

The subject of the adjective clause = the eggs, which are plural. A plural subject (eggs) needs a plural verb (are).

baking-chocolate-count-non-english-esl-how-noun-cocoa

The chocolate that is on the table is for baking.

The subject of the adjective clause = chocolate, which is non-count. A non-count subject (chocolate) needs a singular verb (is).

Three truffles are the best

The chocolates that are on the plate were given to me by my friend.

The subject of the adjective clause (that) = chocolates (pieces of chocolate), which is plural. A plural subject (chocolates) needs a plural verb (are).

NOTE: The above examples used the “be verb” in the adjective clause. The same rule is true for any verb.

man-driving-person-car-traffic-count-non-noun-english-esl

My friend that drives to school every day often get stuck in traffic jams.

The subject of the adjective clause (that) = my friend, which is singular. A singular subject (friend) needs a singular verb (drives).

bus-transportation-driving-city-street-road-town-cars-traffic-count-non-noun-english-esl

My friends that drive to school every day often get stuck in traffic jams.

The subject of the adjective clause (that) = my friends, which is plural. A plural subject (friends) needs a plural verb (drive).

Practice: Complete each adjective clause with a singular or plural verb. Possible answers below.

  1. A horse is an animal that _______________________________________.
  1. Students are people who _______________________________________.
  1. I have a friend who ___________________________________________.
  1. He loves video games that _____________________________________.
  1. She can’t relax in places that ____________________________________.
  1. Yesterday, we took a test that ___________________________________.
  1. Do you like musicians that ______________________________________?
  1. Homework that _____________________________________ is boring.

Possible answers:

  1. (singular) eats grass / has four legs
  2. (plural) take tests / use books / don’t earn money
  3. (singular) sings well / is rich / doesn’t like onions
  4. (plural) have a lot of fighting / are from Japan / are PVP
  5. (plural) are noisy / have a lot of people / aren’t green
  6. (singular) was hard / had many questions / was s dictation
  7. (plural) play electric music / sing while they play / are female
  8. (non-count) takes too much time / is just copying / involves reading

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