The Four Laws of Agreement

The Four Laws of Agreement: A Guide to Preventing Grammar Errors

Agreement is one of the fundamental rules of grammar, and understanding the principles of it is essential to producing clear and effective writing. The English language follows specific rules that dictate how words should agree with each other in number, gender, and person. These rules are commonly referred to as the laws of agreement.

Whether you`re a professional copy editor or a student working on an academic paper, mastering these four laws can help you avoid embarrassing grammar errors that can detract from the quality of your writing.

1. Subject-Verb Agreement

The first law of agreement is subject-verb agreement. It is a basic rule that the subject of a sentence and the verb must agree in number. If the subject is singular, then the verb must be singular, and if the subject is plural, then the verb must be plural.

For example:

– The dog barks at the mailman.

– The dogs bark at the mailman.

In the first sentence, the subject (dog) is singular; therefore, the verb (barks) is singular. In the second sentence, the subject (dogs) is plural, and the verb (bark) is plural.

2. Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement

The second law of agreement is pronoun-antecedent agreement. It is crucial to ensure that the pronoun used in a sentence matches the antecedent (the noun the pronoun refers to) in person, gender, and number.

For instance:

– Maria went to the store, and she bought a dress.

– John went to the store, and he bought a shirt.

In these sentences, “she” and “he” are the pronouns that refer to “Maria” and “John,” respectively. Both the pronouns and antecedents are singular and match in gender.

3. Indefinite Pronoun Agreement

The third law of agreement is indefinite pronoun agreement. Indefinite pronouns refer to a non-specific person, place, or thing. When using indefinite pronouns, it is essential to ensure that the pronoun agrees in number with the noun it replaces.

For example:

– Each of the boys has his own room.

– Both of the girls brought their backpacks.

In the first sentence, “each” refers to “boys,” which is plural, so the singular pronoun “his” is used to agree with “each.” In the second sentence, “both” refers to “girls,” which is plural, so the plural pronoun “their” is used.

4. Noun-Verb Agreement

The fourth law of agreement is noun-verb agreement. It is similar to subject-verb agreement, but it refers to the agreement between verbs and nouns that appear after prepositions or linking verbs.

For instance:

– The color of the walls is green.

– The colors of the walls are green and white.

In the first sentence, “color” is a singular noun, and the verb “is” agrees with it. In the second sentence, “colors” is a plural noun, and the verb “are” agrees with it.


Understanding the laws of agreement is essential for producing clear and effective writing. Failure to follow these rules could result in grammar errors and confusion in your writing. By mastering these four laws, you can ensure that your writing is grammatically correct, coherent, and effective.

Scroll to Top