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Subject Verb Agreement Using Collective Nouns

When it comes to subject-verb agreement in writing, collective nouns can be a tricky area to master. Collective nouns refer to a group of people, animals, or things that are treated as a single entity, such as a team, jury, or flock. While these nouns may seem like a singular noun, they can be either singular or plural depending on how they are used in a sentence. As an experienced copy editor with an understanding of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), I would like to provide an overview of subject-verb agreement when using collective nouns in writing.

Singular Collective Nouns

When using collective nouns as a singular noun, it is important to use a singular verb. For example, “The team is playing well this season,” or “The committee has been meeting regularly to discuss the budget.” In both these sentences, the collective nouns (team and committee) are treated as singular nouns, and the verbs (is and has) agree with them in number.

Plural Collective Nouns

When the collective noun is used as a plural noun, a plural verb is required. For instance, “The herd of cows are grazing in the field,” or “The choir sing songs every Sunday.” In both these examples, the collective nouns (herd and choir) are treated as plural nouns, and the verbs (are and sing) agree with them in number.

Tricky Collective Nouns

There are some collective nouns that can be both singular and plural depending on how they are used in a sentence. For example, “The staff is working hard to meet the deadline,” or “The staff are divided on the issue.” In the first sentence, staff is treated as a singular noun, and the verb is also singular (is). However, in the second sentence, staff is considered plural, and the verb (are) agrees with them in number.

It is important to note that not all collective nouns have the potential to be both singular and plural. For instance, “The family is going on vacation,” will always use a singular verb because the collective noun (family) is only treated as singular.

In conclusion, subject-verb agreement using collective nouns is an essential aspect of writing. As a copy editor, I understand that it is important to use the correct verb form that agrees with the collective noun used in a sentence to ensure clarity in the message conveyed. As a bonus, ensuring proper subject-verb agreement can help with SEO since search engines favor well-structured and grammatically sound content. So, when writing, always keep in mind that collective nouns can be singular, plural, or both, and ensure that your verb agrees with them in number.


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