Subjects and verbs must agree (be consistent) in terms of tense, number, person, and gender.

Achieving Tense Agreement: Past, Present, and Future

Tense refers to time, be it past, present, or future.


• Yesterday, I wrote several e-mails to our customers. (past tense)
• I write to several customers each day. (present tense)
• Tomorrow, I will write to several customers. (future)

You must use the appropriate tense to reflect the correct time.

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Common Subject-Verb Agreement Questions

Using Progressive Forms of Verbs

In addition, each verb form has a perfect form meaning that the action expressed by the verb has been completed (perfected) at a particular point in time: past, present, or future. Thus, we can choose from past perfect, present perfect, or future perfect. The perfect tenses are formed by using what is called the present participle form of the verb along with a helper-have, has, or had.


• At 4:00 yesterday afternoon, he had written four letters. (past perfect)
• Today he has written only two letters. (present perfect)
• By 2:00 tomorrow, he will have written all 15 letters. (future perfect)

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Recognizing Other Changes in Verb Form

Whether the verb has a singular or a plural subject and whether the subject is in the first, second, or third person will usually affect the form of the verb. For example, notice the change in the verbs do, am, and was as the subject changes from first person to second person, from singular to plural, and so on:

Subject Do Am Was
I do am was
we do are were
you do are were
he/she/it does is was
they do are were

If you're a native English speaker, you've been using all these forms of verbs most of your life, and you use them correctly without much thought. The reason that this introduction to verbs is important to you is that it contains useful terms you should be familiar with before you study the guidelines that help you make proper choices of verb tense to fit each situation.

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