myQBook English Grammar Concepts

Common Mistakes: Are Collective Nouns Singular or Plural?

Sometimes, there is confusion on subject-verb agreement with collective nouns. Here are two important rules to follow:

A.      When the collective noun is functioning as a group, use the singular form of the verb. For example:

The team is traveling to Chicago for the championship.

In the above sentence, the collective noun “team” is acting as a group. The members of the team are traveling to Chicago as one unit. Therefore, the singular verb “is” is used.


B.      When the parts of a collective noun are functioning as individual units, use the plural form of the verb. For example:


The flock of birds are splitting up and flying away from each other.


Here, the collective noun “flock” is acting as individual units. Each bird is flying in a different direction away from the others on its own. Therefore, the plural verb “are” is used.


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Collective Nouns

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