Singular Words with Plural Verbs

Singular Words with Plural Verbs :

Singular words which refer to groups of people (like family, team, government, crew, council and committee) can often be used as if they were plural.

1. My family have taken the decision to move to the city.

Note : In the cases, when we think of the group as people, doing the sort of things that people do (for example, making plans, wanting things, being disappointed, enjoying themselves), a plural verb is used and the group is referred to by the pronouns they and who.

1. His family are wonderful.
2. They do all they can for him.
3. The Government are hoping to survive the no-confidence motion tabled against them in the Parliament.

The following nouns can be used either with singular verb or plural verbs as circumstances warrant.

1. Class
2. Club
3. College
4. Committee
5. Family
6. Firm
7. Government
8. Jury
9. Orchestra
10. School
11. Staff
12. Team
13. The AIR
14. The Bank of India
15. The Congress Party
16. The Ministry of Defence
17. The State Bank of India
18. Union

Note : These nouns cannot be used with plural verbs when they have a, an, each, every, this or that before them.

The team are full of energy and enthusiasm.
(The team = the team members)

A team which is bubbling with energy is sure to win.

1. This government is made up of members having diametrically opposite views.

2. The team is placed at the bottom of the second division.

3. The modem family is a much smaller unit that it was ever before.

It may be noted that the expressions (a number of & a group of) are used with plural nouns and pronouns and the verb that follows is also plural.

1. A number of my friends think that I am a fool.

2. A group of us have decided to stage a demonstration against this useless and corrupt government.

3. A number of (several) well qualified people have recently left the government service.

A LOT OF & THE MAJORITY OF can be used with either singular or plural nouns and verbs.

1. A lot of my friends are joining the opposition party.
2. A lot of trouble is chiefly caused by the incompetent governments.
3. A lot of problems are created by unemployment.
4. The majority of the damage is caused by the recent cyclone.
5. The majority of criminals are no criminals at all.

None, neither and either can be followed by of + plural noun or pronoun.

In a formal style, a singular verb is used, but in an informal style, a plural verb is possible.

1. None of the medicines is really helpful. (Formal)
2. None of the medicines are really helpful. (Informal)
3. Has either of them been seen now? (Formal)
4. Have either of them been seen now? (Informal)
5. Neither of my sisters has been outside India. (Formal)
6. Neither of my sisters have been outside India. (Informal)

1. At first, the committee were divided in opinion. But finally it took an unanimous decision.

The committee - the subject

It has been taken in plural sense - so, plural 'were'.

But singular pronoun 'it' because of unanimous decision.

1. News is coming in of a serious plane crash.
2. The news is too good to be true.
3. There is no class tomorrow? That is news to me.
4. Mathematics is a very interesting subject.
5. Mathematics has been my optional subject in my college course.
6. The wages of sin is death. (Old usage)
7. Politics has never interested me.
8. Politics have never interested me.
9. Politics is my favourite subject.
10. Sexual politics interests anyone and everyone.

Note : Some nouns that are singular in form but plural in meaning, take a singular verb. POLITICS can be used both as a singular noun and plural noun.

Singular Words with Plural Verbs

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The Grammar Index

Singular Words with Plural Verbs
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