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The Writer’s Reference Book

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Module 8 – Problems with Subjects and Verbs – Hint Sheet

Some special subject-verb agreement rules:

  • The words There and here are never subjects. When a sentence starts with these words, the subject usually comes after the verb: There comes the boss. (boss comes)
  • In questions, the subject may come after the helping verb it agrees with. To check agreement, make the question into a statement. Isn’t Tim trying his best? (Tim isn’t trying)
  • Irregular verbs
    Verbs have three principal parts: present, past, and past participle. The past participle is used with the helping verbs has, have, and had.
    • I go to school each day.
    • I went to school yesterday.
    • I have gone to school all my life.
  • Troublesome verbs
    • Sit means to be in a sitting position. I sit down now. I sat down yesterday. I have sat down.
    • Set means to put something someplace. I set this book down now. I set this book down yesterday. I have set this book down before.
    • Lie means to be in a reclining position. I lie down now. I lay down yesterday. I have lain in bed all week.
    • Lay means to put something down. I lay this book down now. I laid this book down yesterday. I have laid this book down before.
    • Rise means to go up by itself. The stars rise in the sky. They rose last night. They have risen each night since the earth was formed.
    • Raise means to lift up. We raise the flag each morning. We raised the flag yesterday. We have raised the flag many times.
    • Let suggests a course of action. Let him speak for himself. Let the rope out slowly.
    • Leave means to allow to remain. Leave him where he is. Leave the rope on the post.
    • Both Let and Leave can be used with alone. Leave should not be used before an infinitive.
    • Stay means to remain. They stay at home. They stayed away from the argument. They have stayed on course.
    • Stand means to be upright. They stand alone. They stood quietly. They have stood there for hours.
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