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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.