Subject-Verb Agreement with Collective Nouns: Tips for Writing Effectively
In English grammar, collective nouns refer to groups of people, animals, or things that are treated as a single entity. Examples include team, family, committee, flock, and crowd. As a copy editor, it`s important to ensure that the subject-verb agreement in sentences with collective nouns is correct. Here are some tips to help you write effectively:
1. Treat collective nouns as singular or plural, depending on the context. This can depend on whether the group is acting as a single entity or as individuals. For example, “The team is playing well” refers to the team as a single unit, while “The team are arguing among themselves” refers to the individual members of the team.
2. Pay attention to words that come after the collective noun. If the noun is followed by a singular verb, it suggests a singular entity; if it is followed by a plural verb, it suggests a plural entity. For example, “The jury has reached a verdict” suggests a singular entity, while “The jury were split in their decision” suggests a plural entity.
3. Be consistent in your use of collective nouns. If you start with a singular verb, use singular verbs throughout the sentence. If you start with a plural verb, use plural verbs throughout the sentence. For example, “The committee meets every week and discusses their agenda” is inconsistent because it starts with a singular verb and ends with a plural pronoun. It should be corrected to “The committee meets every week and discusses its agenda.”
4. Don`t be fooled by words that may sound plural but are actually singular. Examples include news, economics, and mathematics. These words take singular verbs, even though they describe multiple things. For example, “The news is on at 6 pm” is correct, while “The news are reporting different stories” is incorrect.
In summary, subject-verb agreement with collective nouns can be tricky, but paying attention to context, consistency, and word usage can help you write effectively. As a professional, it`s important to ensure that your writing is clear and grammatically correct, so follow these tips carefully and watch your writing emerge as a cohesive piece of work.