When to Add s to a Verb



If you feel confident about forming plurals in English by adding an s or es at the end of the word, we’re about to make you feel a little wobbly. Although most noun plurals are formed this way, only verbs with a third-person singular noun or pronoun (he, she, boat, courage) as a subject ever have an added s on the end. With plural nouns (but also the singular pronouns I and you) there is never an added s at the end of a verb.

For example, which verb is plural, talk or talks? Because you would say, “He talks,” and he is a third-person singular pronoun, talks is a singular verb. You would say, “The people talk,” and people is a plural noun, so talk is a plural verb.

Example:
The position listed on the university website caught my attention because my education, experience, and training closely parallel/parallels your needs.

Answer: This sentence has two sets of subjects and verbs. The first subject/verb combination is position/caught. The second set of subjects is education, experience, and training, which is plural. We would say, “They parallel” so we must write or say, “… my education, experience, and training closely parallel your needs.”

Example:
If he or she needs/need me, I will be in the other room.

Answer:
In this sentence, he and she are the subjects; however, they are connected by or so we use the singular verb needs.

Caution: Sometimes a helping (also called an auxiliary) verb is used in conjunction with the main verb. When a helping verb is used, the spelling of the main verb does not change.

Example: If he or she should needs/need me, I will be in the other room.

Answer: When the main verb need is used with the helping verb should and a third-person singular noun or pronoun, there is no added s. If he or she should need me, I will be in the other room.

 

Pop Quiz

1. When he and Jenny walks/walk to work, they hold hands.
2. They leaves/leave at the end of the year for a month-long vacation.
3. Her dog, cat, and chicken gets/get along well together.
4. When he gets/get angry, his face turns/turn red.
5. She goes/go away every August.
6. She will calls/call you tomorrow.

 

Pop Quiz Answers

1. When he and Jenny walk to work, they hold hands.
2. They leave at the end of the year for a month-long vacation.
3. Her dog, cat, and chicken get along well together.
4. When he gets angry, his face turns red.
5. She goes away every August.
6. She will call you tomorrow.

Posted on Tuesday, May 16, 2017, at 3:08 pm

8 Comments on When to Add s to a Verb

8 responses to “When to Add s to a Verb”

  1. Chris says:

    Thanks GrammarBook.com! This is awesome. Hopefully this will be included in the next edition of the book.

  2. Reynaldo Coto says:

    How is the correct use of “s” in third person sentences with more than one verb in it?
    Ex: My wife likes to talk about foods cooking, watch tv, clean the house, etc.
    This sentence is correctly write or not?

    • The sentence should read “My wife likes to talk about cooking food, watching tv, cleaning the house, etc.”
      The subject of the sentence is wife. The subject is a third-person singular noun. Therefore, the singular verb likes has an added s. Likes is the main verb in the sentence. The verb likes is used with the infinitive to talk. The word about is a preposition and is followed by objects of the preposition, cooking, watching, and cleaning.

  3. Morne says:

    Please help!

    The sentence reads:

    Mum saw a man steal or steals a diamond ring…

    Which is correct steal or steals and why?

    • The base form of the verb, in this case steal rather than steals, is used after certain principal verbs such as watch, see (saw), hear, feel, help, let, and make, followed by an object.
      Mum saw a man steal a diamond ring.

  4. Artyom says:

    “The second set of subjects is education, experience, and training, which is plural.” Can i write this sentence by using the ‘are’ ?

    Like this: “The second set of subjects are education, experience, and training, which is plural.”

    Thanks

    • The subject of this sentence in our first EXAMPLE/ANSWER pair is the singular noun set; therefore, use the singular verb is. The non-restrictive clause at the end, which is plural, identifies that the singular set is a collective noun containing plural subjects (education, experience, and training).

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