Collective Nouns: Pairing Verbs With Difficult Nouns

by | Aug 5, 2008 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

Review Board Is Now Open!
Submit Your Poetry, Short Prose, or Book Today!

Day(s)

:

Hour(s)

:

Minute(s)

:

Second(s)

Deadline: Thursday, December 22nd

A collective noun refers to a group of people or things, such as “family” or “flock.” It can be confusing to determine if the noun should function as singular or plural when trying to match a verb with it, so let’s break it down. Learning how to make your collective nouns agree with verbs is important to writing proper sentences.

SINGULAR COLLECTIVE NOUNS:

Mathematics is my favorite subject.

The mob was rounding the corner.

A pair of scissors is on the kitchen counter.

PLURAL COLLECTIVE NOUNS:

Where are my scissors?

The headquarters are located in Boise, Idaho.

EITHER WAY:

Many collective nouns can either be singular or plural, depending on their context, and here is where the confusion often lies.

Submit to Review Board

For example:

The jury have mixed feelings about the prosecutor’s cross-examination. (Where the individual members have differing emotions.)

The jury is sequestered. (Where the jury is a single entity.)

The staff is waiting in the conference room. (Single entity.)

The staff have special qualifications for this project. (Referring to individual members of the staff.)

My family is very dysfunctional. (Referring to the family as a unit.)

My family have always been proud of me. (Referring to the family members individually.)

Reverend Smith’s flock is very devout. (Single entity.)

Reverend Smith’s flock are always competing with each other. (Individual members are competing with each other.)

The distinctions between singular and plural usage can be pretty subtle. Your job is to decide if you want to focus on the individual or the whole, and match your verbs accordingly. As always, once you’ve made your decision, stay consistent.

Writer’s Relief proofreaders are here to help you with your books, stories, poems, essays, and novels. We’ve been helping writers submit their work to literary agents and editors since 1994. Contact us for more information about how we can help you!

2 Comments

  1. EN Heim

    Your statement under Plural: The headquarters are located in Boise, Idaho.

    Isn’t HEADQUARTERS a single unit, referring to a group like FAMILY, MATHEMATICS?

    One does not say: The Headquarter is located…

    Explain to me why HEADQUARTERS is plural and uses ARE.

    Reply
    • Writer's Relief Staff

      Hello En Heim,

      According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “Headquarters” is a noun plural but singular or plural in construction. The definition for Headquarters is: a place from which something is controlled or directed. Headquarters can be used as a singular or a plural in writing and speaking. Examples: Company headquarters is in Chicago. Or: Where are the campaign headquarters?

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Review Board Is Now Open! Submit Your Poetry, Short Prose, or Book Today!

Day(s)

:

Hour(s)

:

Minute(s)

:

Second(s)

 

 

See ALL the services we offer, from
FREE to Full Service!

Click here for a Writer’s Relief
Full Service Overview

Search

Reviews

“Getting that first poem published was the hardest threshold to cross. My team at Writer’s Relief kept encouraging me…then came the acceptance! We celebrated…then I continued writing, and Writer’s Relief continued doing the wonderful work they do!”

—King Grossman, Writer
(Watch King’s video testimonial here!)

“Every piece I have sent out with their help has been accepted for publication! I am looking forward to working with the team on getting my new novel out into the world.”

Services Catalog

Free Publishing Leads
and Tips!

Featured Articles



Featured Video

Follow us!



YES, IT'S MY LUCKY DAY!
Sign me up for
FREE Publishing Leads & Tips
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

WHY? Because our insider
know-how has helped
writers get over 18,000 acceptances.

FREE Publishing Leads and Tips! Our e-publication, Submit Write Now!, delivered weekly to your inbox.
  • BEST (and proven) submission tips
  • Hot publishing leads
  • Calls to submit
  • Contest alerts
  • Notification of industry changes
  • And much more!
close-link


STOP! BEFORE YOU GO...
Sign me up for
FREE Publishing Leads & Tips
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

WHY? Because our insider
know-how has helped
writers get over 18,000 acceptances.

FREE Publishing Leads and Tips! Our e-publication, Submit Write Now!, delivered weekly to your inbox.
  • BEST (and proven) submission tips
  • Hot publishing leads
  • Calls to submit
  • Contest alerts
  • Notification of industry changes
  • And much more!
close-link

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This