Posts Tagged ‘plural verb’

Singular nouns with plural verbs

August 26th, 2011 in English Learning

In British English, group / collective nouns (Examples: family, team, jury, committee etc) can be used with either singular or plural verbs and pronouns.

The team is in the dressing room. OR The team are in the dressing room.

Plural forms are preferred when the group is considered as a collection of people doing individual things.
Singular forms are common when the group is seen as an impersonal unit.

My family live in different parts of Sydney. (Here the reference is to the individual members of the family and hence we use a plural verb.)
My family lives in that apartment. (Here the family is seen as an impersonal unit and hence we use a singular verb.)

Examples of group nouns which can be used with singular and plural verbs in English are:

Bank, the BBC, choir, class, club, committee, England, family, firm, government, jury, ministry, party, public, school, staff, team, union etc.

In American English, collective / group nouns are usually followed by singular verbs. Plural pronouns are sometimes used to refer back to collective nouns.

The team is in the room. They are changing.

Plural verbs are usually used after singular quantifying expressions like a number of, a group of, a lot of, the majority of etc.

A number of scientists have tried to solve the problem, but they have all failed. (More natural than ‘A number of scientists has tried to solve the problem.)
The majority of criminals are the victims of circumstances. (More natural than ‘The majority of criminals is the victims of circumstances.)