Collective nouns and the number of the verb 

  • Words denoting groups

    In collective nouns applying to groups of people, you can use either singular or plural verbs. If you wish to imply unanimity or unity, use a singular verb; if you want to talk about varied opinions or only one part of the group, use the plural.

    Exemple correcte The University’s Governing Council is considering the matter.

    Exemple correcte The Committee were divided over tuition fees.


  • Geographical areas and organisations

    Countries, regions and organisations take a singular verb even when they have a plural name.

    Exemple correcte The Balearic Islands is a self-governing region of Spain.

    Exemple correcte The United Nations is charged with the maintenance of international peace.


    However, if there is some reason to stress the individual parts, use a plural verb.

    Exemple correcte The Balearic Islands are made up of four main islands.
Darrera actualització: 26-10-2017
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Recommended citation:
«Collective nouns and the number of the verb» [en línia]. A: Criteris de la Universitat de Barcelona (CUB). Style Guide. Barcelona: Universitat de Barcelona. Serveis Lingüístics. <http://www.ub.edu/cub/criteri.php?id=2423> [consulta: 23 setembre 2021].