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What Subject Verb Agreement for Collective Nouns

Subject-verb agreement is an important rule in English grammar. It determines the relationship between the subject and the verb in a given sentence. In particular, collective nouns pose a unique challenge in subject-verb agreement. Collective nouns refer to groups of people, animals, or things, and are treated as singular nouns, but they require special consideration when it comes to agreement with the accompanying verb.

Collective nouns can be tricky to get right because they usually denote a group of things acting as a single unit. Examples of collective nouns include “team,” “family,” “committee,” “crowd,” “herd,” “flock,” and “group.” These words are treated as a single unit, hence, they take a singular verb form. For instance, “The team is ready for the game,” not “The team are ready for the game.”

However, in some cases, collective nouns can take a plural verb form. This occurs when the emphasis is on the individual members of the group, rather than on the group as a whole. For example, “The committee is divided on the issue,” but “The committee are discussing their individual positions.” In the first case, the focus is on the committee as a single unit, so the singular form “is” is used. In the second case, the emphasis is on the individual members of the committee, so the plural form “are” is used.

Another instance where plural verb form is used with collective nouns is where a collective noun refers to a group of people who think or act in different ways. For instance, “My family are all very different; we have our own interests and opinions.” Here, the family is made up of different individuals with their own ideas and opinions, hence the plural form “are” is used.

It is important to note that using the wrong verb form with collective nouns can result in awkward and incorrect sentences. Therefore, when writing, it is good practice to pay attention to the context of the sentence, and to ensure that the verb used agrees with the collective noun it is associated with.

In summary, when dealing with collective nouns, remember that while they are usually treated as singular nouns, they can take a plural verb form when the emphasis is on the individual members of the group. By paying attention to context and choosing the appropriate verb form, you can ensure that your writing is both grammatically correct and easy to understand.