9 julio, 2024

Grammatical agreement: concept, types, rules, examples

We explain what grammatical agreement is, its types, the general rules and we give many examples.

What is grammar agreement?

The grammar agreement It is the obligatory relation that certain words have and must show in their morphology (gender, number and person). This relationship, in Spanish, is established between nouns, adjectives and verbs, mainly.

Grammatical agreement is relevant above all in inflectional languages, which use affixes on words to modify meaning and conform to grammatical agreement. An example could be: “the yellow butterfly flies low”.

Note that both the article The like the noun butterfly and the adjective yellow They have the morpheme -a indicating the feminine gender. It is in the singular, and the verb –fly– is conjugated in the 3rd person singular.

This is the grammatical agreement: the relationship between the different words of a sentence that gives them meaning from a morphosyntactic point of view.

Grammar Match Types

In Spanish, there are three types of agreement: nominal, verbal, and polarity.

nominal agreement

Nominal agreement is the coincidence or relationship of gender and number. It is the one that is established between the noun, the adjective and the determiners (articles, demonstrative adjectives, numerals, etc.) or between the pronouns and the grammatical elements themselves.

Agreement between the noun, article and adjectives

For example: «heto whiteto caseto”, “heyou chicyou mexicanyou”, “thatyou bookyou useyou and oldyou”, “heto monthto robustto”, “he broken violineither”.

In these examples we see that the agreement occurs in the morphemes -a and -o, indicative of gender (-a for feminine and -o for masculine) and when the plural is indicated, adding an -s.

Agreement between the pronoun and its determiners (anteceding or consequent)

The pronoun is that word that replaces the noun (those, these, that, she, he, we, their, your, etc.), the antecedent is the word that precedes the noun or pronoun and the consequent is the word that follows the noun. noun or noun phrase.

For example: «A. she the I saw this morning”, “them lent the books to they”. In both sentences, the pronouns must agree in gender and number with the determiners.

Nominal agreement is established in all grammatical constructions where both number and gender are marked.

Agreement between relative pronouns and their antecedents

The relative pronouns are que, quien/quienes, cual/cuales, cuyo/cuyos. They only have number morphemes (-es) that indicate singularity or plurality. The pronoun that It does not undergo changes with any type of morpheme and can refer to things or people, plural or singular.

These relative pronouns must agree in number with their antecedents:

«The football players, who They played on Saturday, they are exhausted»
«The hat, whose wing It was broken, it was lying on the floor.»
“All the bookstores in the city, which They have a license, they will open on Sundays”

In these examples, the pronouns must agree with their antecedents.

In the first sentence, the antecedent is football players (plural); in the second, whose must agree with to the (singular and feminine), and in the third, which refers to bookstores (plural feminine).

verb agreement

It is the agreement established between the subject and the verb. It is always reflected in number and in person (“The girls sing excellently”: we see that the subject is The girls3rd person plural, and the verb is they singconjugated in 3rd person plural).

This verbal agreement is different in the case of the inclusive subject, which is when the speaker is included in the sentence: «Los Mexicanos we eat A lot of spice». in this sentence The Mexicans is 3rd person plural, but the verb is conjugated in 1st person plural.

polarity matching

Polarity, in linguistics, alludes to the presence or absence of certain grammatical particles that carry out a negation, since the polarity of a statement can be positive or negative. When negation is performed, it means that there must be some kind of agreement in the words for it to be effective.

For example, we say «wash yourself the face” (positive statement), but “No tea wash the face” when we include the negation. With negative polarity, the change is noticed in the verb, and it changes from an imperative to a subjunctive conjugation.

Examples: “No tea commas the cake today”, “Do not Cry So», «don’t talk in class».

It is also noted in the use of indefinite terms (no one, someone, many, little, none, some, several, too many, etc.), since there are positives and negatives. A negative indefinite determiner is none, or nobody, for example.

So, when a negative statement is made with an indefinite we should say: “No I was able to contact nobody” (the form “I could not contact someone” is incorrect, since someone is positive). This is called a double negative.

Other examples would be:No I bought no book», «No I’ve received none offer».

General rules of grammatical agreement

There are basically three general matching rules. The numerous exceptions to these rules should be consulted with the Royal Academy of Language (in its Spanish and Latin American chapters) or with the Pan-Hispanic Dictionary of Doubts.

Two or more nouns in the singular and of the same grammatical gender

When there are two or more nouns or pronouns in the singular and there is an adjective for them, the adjective must be in the plural; that is, the adjective must agree with this group in the plural. Let’s see some examples:

Cook garlic and celery finely chopped.

chopped agrees with the group garlic and celery, both masculine singular nouns. The agreement is established between the adjective chopped and the group they form garlic and celeryand note that the adjective is in the plural (with the morpheme -s, and in the masculine because both nouns are).

beautiful the girl and her mother.

The girl and her mother is a feminine group that requires a feminine and plural adjective (beautiful).

agreement with the verb

The Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria were the caravels in which Columbus traveled.

Notice that the verb were corresponds to the group «La Niña, La Pinta and La Santa María». When there is more than one noun, the verb must be conjugated in the 3rd person plural.

Two or more singular nouns of different grammatical gender

When there are several nouns of different gender, the masculine is used for agreement, and the plural, since there are several names.

carrot, garlic and onion chopped.
He had the beard and the hair dirty.

Note: in recent times, feminist movements have wanted to change this concordance by considering the masculine as non-inclusive, and they propose the use of the E: «the boys were cute», «the children ran through the park», «the woman and the man are human beings”, etc.

Verbal agreement between 2nd and 3rd person pronouns

When in a sentence there is a 2nd person pronoun (you, you, you) and none of the 1st, the verbal agreement and the other pronouns will be in the 2nd person plural, or in the 3rd person plural in the sentences. Spanish-speaking areas where the pronoun vosotras/os is not used.

Michael and you? you will go to the beach in summer?
ramon and you are friends.
Please, put yourselves (Juan, Leonor and you) the conditions.
if you and your boyfriend go out, buy pizza please

Verb agreement in 1st person

When there are sentences with pronouns in the first person (I, we), the verbal agreement will be established in the 1st person plural.

Ricardo, the boys and me we visited the pyramids of Egypt.
Don’t forget the day we we married.
Us we have fun a lot Lucía, Mariela and I last weekend.


Garcia-Miguel, JM (2000). Nominal classification, agreement and pronouns. Taken from researchgate.net.
Pan-Hispanic Dictionary of Doubts (2021). Grammatical agreement. Taken from rae.es.
Grammatical concordance: Laws of concordance and examples (2021). Taken from lifepersona.com.
Agreement (linguistics) (2021). Taken from en.wikipedia.org.
Grammar of Spanish (2021). Taken from es.wikipedia.org.

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