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    Avoiding Sentence Errors: Subject-Verb Agreement: Collective Nouns

    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    Collective nouns (class, faculty, family, committee, navy, team, species, band, crowd, pair, squad) can be singular or plural in meaning. They require a singular verb when they refer to a group as a unit; they require a plural verb when they refer to the group members as individuals.

    The team is [not are] required to submit an expense report for the road trip. (Team refers to a group as a unit; it requires the singular verb is.)
    The faculty are [not is] highly experienced. (In this example, faculty refers to the individuals within the group. If the word individuals were substituted for faculty, it would become clear that the plural verb are is needed.)

    (From Write for Business, page 324, and Proofreader's Guide PDF, page 74)