World's premier FREE site for learners + teachers of English

Subject-Verb Agreement: collective nouns

The committee was formed in 2012.
The committee are having sandwiches for lunch.

We often use singular nouns that refer to groups of people (for example: team, government, committee) as if they were plural. This is because we often think of the group as people, doing things that people do (eating, wanting, feeling etc). In such cases, we use a plural verb. (We also then need to make sure that other words agree - they instead of it, who instead of which.)

Here are some examples:

Here are some examples of words and expressions that can be considered singular or plural:

But when we consider the group as an impersonal unit, we use singular verbs (and singular pronouns):

Notice that this is often a question of style and logic. The important thing is to be consistent.

Some writers of American English treat collective nouns as singular at all times.

Is there anything wrong with this page? Let us know ↗️