English as a Second Language/Subject-verb Agreement



The topic of subject-verb agreement can be tricky. I want to clarify uncertainties related to subject-verb agreement. Ok, so I have heard that a verb should never be in a plural form when there is a "does" in a sentence. For example,

"John does everything to keep himself healthy and works daily to maintain his health."

Some people said that this sentence is wrong because this sentence contains "does" and "works" is a verb and it is in plural form.  

People say that the sentence should be: "John does everything to keep himself healthy and work daily to maintain his health."

The truth is that I am not sure which sentence is correct. Anyway, there are many examples I can provide.


One more important aspect of subject verb agreement is the use of has and have in English language. Let me provide some examples,

"Does your team has best players?"

Some people objected to this sentence. They said that the sentence should be: "Does your team have best players?"

Now this has confused me. "Have" is used for plural sentences, right? For example, "They have a son.". So why this sentence (Does your team has best players) is incorrect? is that sentence really incorrect or is it correct?


Hello Ryo,

that's a very good question you're asking.

Let's take the examples you brought up:

"John does everything to keep himself healthy and works daily to maintain his health." This is a correct sentence. Here, "does" and "works" are verbs in two different independent sentences:

- John does everything to keep himself healthy.
- John works daily to maintain his health.

Here does (to do) is not an auxiliary verb, it's the main verb of the sentence.

When it comes to the second example, the correct sentence is "Does your team have the best players?"

Here you have a single sentence where the main verb "to have"  is at the present tense, interrogative, so "does (to do)" is the auxiliary verb needed to ask the question.

To ask questions at the third person singular, using the present tense, the "algorithm" is:

does (which is the auxiliary verb) + subject + base form of the main verb

There is no need to add s/es to the base form of the verb as that's included with the auxiliary verb "to do"

Back to your second sentence.

The affirmative version would be: Your team HAS the best players. (the s is added to the base form of the verb)
The interrogative version: DOES your team HAVE the best players?

More examples along the same lines:

Mary THINKS that this is the right paint color. (affirmative)
DOES Mary THINK that this is the right paint color? (interrogative)

My friend PLAYS tennis.
DOES your friend PLAY tennis?

Bottom line, in the interrogative form for the third person singular, we use "does" as an auxiliary verb, and the main verb never takes an "s".

You can read more about this here:

Feel free to follow up if you still have questions about this topic, or to submit any other questions you may have my way.

I hope this helps.


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Amy Baker


I can answer question about grammar, spelling, syntax, idioms, reading and/or writing that pertain to English as a Second Language. I am knowledgeable about both TOEFL and IELTS.


I'm a certified ESL teacher with 12 years of experience teaching K-12 and adults.

BSc MEd TESL post grad program for k-12 TESL post grad program for adult ed

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