In P5, the grammar MCQ section gets trickier, especially in subject-verb-agreement (or SVA) questions. Many of these tricky grammar questions will also appear in other parts of Paper 2 such as Grammar Cloze, Editing, and Synthesis & Transformation. Thus, starting off the P5 year with a good grammatical foundation can greatly help the rest of your Paper 2.

Today, I would like us to take a look at 5 tricky SVA questions that can appear in your P5 & P6 papers.

Five tricky SVA questions to master

1. Indefinite Pronouns – Everyone

Is the subject ‘everyone’ singular or plural?

‘Everyone’ is an indefinite pronoun. It is used to refer to the total number of people.

While it is used to refer to many people, ‘everyone’ is considered a singular pronoun. Thus, it takes a singular verb.

*This rule applies to ‘everybody’, ‘everything’, and ‘everywhere’.


Everyone in class is excited to visit Universal Studios Singapore next week.

While ‘everyone’ refers to many students in class, it is still considered a singular pronoun and as such takes a singular verb ‘is’.

2. Uncountable Nouns – Luggage

‘Luggage’ can refer to one piece of luggage or many pieces of luggage.

While ‘Luggage’ may refer to more than one, it is considered an uncountable noun and takes a singular verb.

Example :

The luggage is beside the check-in counter.

3. Plural Nouns – Police

This is another noun that confuses many students when it appears in the grammar MCQ section.
‘Police’ refers to a collection of policemen or policewomen.
It is considered a plural noun and takes the plural verb.

For example :

The police are chasing the thief.

4. Prepositional phrases / adjective clauses / participle phrases – Making subject and verb agree when words come between them

In Primary 5 grammar MCQ, questions become more complex when prepositional phrases / adjective clauses/participle phrases are added between the subject and the verb.

This confuses students as they now find it more difficult to identify which is the subject in the sentence and if the subject is singular or plural.

Knowing how to identify the subject in the sentence is crucial in being able to answer this type of SVA question correctly.

For example :

The topic is unicorns.

The topic of the four books is unicorns.

In both the sentences above, the subject – topic – is a singular noun and takes the singular verb – is. The rule remains the same even after adding in the prepositional phrase – of the four books.

5. Parenthetical or Non-essential information – as well as

Another confusing SVA question is when ‘as well as’ is used in a sentence. Students assume that the extra information given should be ‘added on’ to the subject noun and the take on the plural verb.

However, ‘as well as’ is considered a parenthetical phrase. It provides information that is non-essential to the meaning or grammar of the sentence. Students should ignore this information and focus on identifying the subject of the sentence and whether it is singular or plural.

For example :

The writer, as well as his friends, has arrived.

In the above sentence, the subject is ‘the writer’. It is a singular noun and takes a singular verb ‘has’.

‘as well as his friends’ should be considered as non-essential information and be ignored.

P5 students will realise that there are many new grammatical structures introduced to them this year. Many are trickier and more challenging than what they worked on in Primary 3 & 4. Grammar is an important part of the paper 2 component. Remember to consistently memorise new grammatical structures that you learn this year and continue to work on your grammar questions regularly.

We hope that today’s post has helped you manage the trickier subject-verb-agreement question types that you will come across in your Primary 5 year. At TF, we emphasize a strong grammar foundation for all our students as having a solid foundation can greatly help you in all areas of your English components.

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