As a copy editor, I’ve come across countless instances where a writer struggles with English grammar agreement and disagreement. And honestly, it’s not surprising – the rules can seem confusing and convoluted. But mastering these rules is crucial to ensure that your writing is clear, concise and grammatically correct. In this article, I’ll break down the basics of agreement and disagreement in the English language.


Agreement in English grammar refers to the matching of two words in a sentence – usually a noun and a verb or a pronoun and an antecedent – to indicate that they belong together. The most common form of agreement occurs between a singular subject and a singular verb or a plural subject and a plural verb. For example, “He runs every morning” and “They run every morning.” In both cases, the verb “run” agrees with the subject.

However, agreement can get tricky when the subject and verb don’t match in number. For instance, when a singular subject is paired with a plural verb, such as in the sentence: “The group of friends are meeting at the park.” This should actually be “The group of friends is meeting at the park,” because “group” is the subject, and it is singular.

Another common mistake is using a plural pronoun to refer to a singular antecedent. For example, “Every student should carry their own backpack” should be “Every student should carry his or her own backpack” to match the singular antecedent.


Disagreement in English grammar occurs when words in a sentence don’t match up or are in conflict with each other. It commonly happens with pronouns and their antecedents, as well as with adjectives and nouns. For example, the sentence “The man with the black hat, he ran away” is incorrect because “he” is not needed since “man” already indicates a singular person.

Another example of disagreement can be seen in the sentence: “The book on the shelf is old and new.” This is incorrect because “old” and “new” are opposites and cannot be used together to describe the same object.

Tips to improve your agreement and disagreement

1. Identify the subject and verb. Once you’ve determined who or what the subject is, check if the verb corresponds to it in number (singular or plural).

2. Match pronouns and antecedents. Make sure that the pronoun and antecedent (the word the pronoun is replacing) match in number and gender.

3. Check for consistency. Ensure that all elements in a sentence, such as adjectives and nouns, are consistent and don’t contradict each other.

4. Use a style guide. Reference a style guide, such as The Chicago Manual of Style, to ensure that your writing is following standard grammar rules.

In conclusion, mastering English grammar agreement and disagreement is essential to creating well-written content. By following the tips outlined here and practicing consistently, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a skilled writer.