Singular Verb Or Plural Verb After Collective Nouns

A collective noun denotes a collection of individual persons or objects.

Examples are: crowd, mob, team, flock, herd, army, fleet, jury, nation, family, committee, government etc.

In British English, a collective noun may be treated either as singular (if the whole group is being thought of as a unit) or as plural (if the group is being regarded as a collection of individuals).

The committee has announced its decision. (The committee is regarded as a unit.)
The committee are divided on this issue. (The committee is regarded as a group of individuals.)
The team is on the field.
The team are changing.
The class is a bright one.
The class are a mixed lot.
His family is living in that house.
His family are living in various parts of Sydney.
The jury is in the courtroom.
The jury are still debating the case.

In American English, a collective noun is almost always treated as singular, and Americans say The committee is divided on this issue.

Sections in this article

Sentence agreement
Sentence agreement: plural subjects
Sentence agreement: collective nouns
Sentence agreement: indefinite pronouns


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