Los Angeles Valley College



graphics: image of two shaking hands as in agreement

Every sentence has a subject and a verb. The subject is who or what the sentence is about. A verb describes the action or state of being of the subject. Nearly all present tense verbs have two forms: one that ends in -s and one that does not. The end of a verb has an -s or no -s, depending on whether its subject is singular or plural. A singular subject requires a singular verb, and a plural subject requires a plural verb.

A present-tense verb that describes the action of a subject that is a singular noun usually ends in -s.


graphics: a push pinFor example:

Jim studies at Valley College.


The dog barks when the children ride by on bicycles.


She lives in Los Angeles.


A plural noun usually ends with an -s. In a sentence with a plural noun as a subject, the verb will usually not end in -s.

graphics: a push pinFor example:

Several students wait in the classroom for their teacher.


Forty cows graze in the pasture.


The professors teach many different subjects.


Verbs in the Present Tense

Sample Verb: To leap

If the subject is
The verb is
If the subject is
The verb is
1st Person: I
1st Person:We
2nd Person: You
2nd Person:You

3rd Person:





3rd Person:



*Use an -s or -es ending on the verb only when the subject is he, she or it.




The Rule of One -s for Nouns and Verbs

Singular: Noun without -s = verb with -s

(The student studies in the library.)


Plural: Noun with -s = verb without -s

(The students study in the library)


(Myers 146)


graphics: pen & paperExercise:

In the following sentences, write the correct form of the verb given;


  1. In the winter, bears (hibernate)            for several weeks.
  2. When she goes to school, she (learn)           .
  3. In Bali, the locals (practice)           their own variation of Hinduism.
  4. In order to stay underwater for a long time, a scuba-diver (breathe)           oxygen from a tank.
  5. When the weather is bad, students (play)           cards indoors.
  6. A lemur usually (live)            most of its life in a tree.

This handout is based on the following texts:

Fawcett, Susan, and Alan Sandburg. Evergreen: A Guide to Writing.  4th

ed.  Boston:   Houghton Mifflin,  1992. 346-56.

Meyers, Alan. Writing with Confidence.  5th ed.  New York:  Harper

Collins, 1994. 144-78.

For furthur reference, see also:

Beason, Larry, and Mark Lester.  A Common Sense Guide to Grammar

and Usage. 2nd ed.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin,  2000. 70-


Fawcett, Susan, and Alan Sandburg.  Grassroots with Readings: The

Writer's Workbook.  6th ed.  Boston: Houghton and


Mifflin,1998.  96-119.

All of the above texts are available in the Writing Center.


Rev. Jan '03 5



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