Subject-Verb Agreement for Collective Nouns

Subject-Verb Agreement for Collective Nouns: What You Need to Know

As a copy editor, you know that subject-verb agreement is a critical component of good writing. When the subject and verb don`t agree, it can cause confusion and make the text difficult to read. One area where writers often struggle with subject-verb agreement is when dealing with collective nouns. In this article, we`ll discuss what collective nouns are and how to ensure that your subject-verb agreement is correct when using them.

What Are Collective Nouns?

Collective nouns refer to a group of people, animals, or things. Examples of collective nouns include:

– Team

– Group

– Family

– Audience

– Herd

– Flock

– School

When using collective nouns in a sentence, it`s important to remember that they function as a single unit. This means that the verb should agree with the collective noun as a whole, not with each individual member of the group.

Subject-Verb Agreement with Collective Nouns

Subject-verb agreement with collective nouns can be tricky. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Determine whether the collective noun is singular or plural

The first step in ensuring subject-verb agreement is to determine whether the collective noun is singular or plural. This can be a bit confusing, as some collective nouns can function as both singular and plural. For example, the word « team » can be used to refer to a single team or multiple teams.

Here are a few examples of collective nouns and whether they are typically singular or plural:

– Team: Singular (« The team is playing well. »)

– Group: Singular or plural (« The group is meeting later. » or « The group are discussing their options. »)

– Family: Singular (« My family is going on vacation. »)

– Audience: Singular (« The audience was captivated by the performance. »)

– Herd: Singular (« The herd is grazing in the field. »)

– Flock: Singular (« The flock is migrating south. »)

– School: Singular (« The school is closed for the holiday. »)

2. Use the appropriate verb form

Once you`ve determined whether the collective noun is singular or plural, you can use the appropriate verb form. If the collective noun is singular, use a singular verb form. If it`s plural, use a plural verb form.

Here are a few examples:

– Singular collective noun: « The team is playing well. »

– Plural collective noun: « The group are discussing their options. »

– Singular or plural collective noun: « The crew is working on the project » or « The crew are working on the project. »

3. Be consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to subject-verb agreement. If you start out using a singular verb form with a collective noun, make sure you continue to use singular verb forms throughout the rest of the text. The same goes for plural verb forms.

In conclusion, understanding subject-verb agreement with collective nouns is essential for ensuring clear and effective writing. By keeping these tips in mind, you`ll be able to use collective nouns correctly and avoid any confusion for your readers.

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