Collective nouns: singular or plural?

A collective noun is a word in singular form that names an aggregate of individuals or things. Some examples are “jury,” “group,” “faculty,” and “crowd.”

The problem is whether to treat a collective noun as a plural (“the jury are deliberating”) or as a singular (“the jury is deliberating”).

According to Bryan Garner, “there is little ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ on this subject.” But, generally, collective nouns take singular verbs, as in “the committee is meeting” and “the panel is in session.” But the most important point is this: be consistent. Decide on the style you’re going to use and stick with it.

That is all for now …


Filed under Grammar

2 responses to “Collective nouns: singular or plural?

  1. Marilyn

    British English construes collective nouns to be plural: “the firm are moving its offices.” They look behind the single word to find a group. I have always found that interesting.

  2. Marilyn

    Or it is “the firm are moving their offices”

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