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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.

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Pop Quiz

Answers are at the bottom of the newsletter.

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.

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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.

68 One-Minute English Usage Videos

English In A Snap: 68 One-Minute English Usage Videos FREE 

Learn all about who and whom, affect and effect, subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and much more by just sitting back and enjoying these easy-to-follow lessons. Tell your colleagues (and boss), children, teachers, and friends. Click here to watch.

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