Agreement Rules for Collective Nouns

Collective nouns refer to a group of people, animals, or things that act as a single unit. Examples of collective nouns include team, class, flock, herd, committee, and family. When it comes to subject-verb agreement in sentences containing collective nouns, there are a few important rules to keep in mind. In this article, we`ll review these rules and provide examples to illustrate their application.

Rule 1: Singular or Plural Verb Agreement

The basic rule of subject-verb agreement states that a singular subject takes a singular verb, while a plural subject takes a plural verb. The same applies to collective nouns. If the collective noun is considered a single entity, then use a singular verb. If the collective noun is seen as a group of individuals, then use a plural verb.


– The team is playing well this season. (singular verb, treating the team as a unit)

– The team are training hard every day. (plural verb, treating the team as individuals)

– The committee has made a decision. (singular verb, treating the committee as a unit)

– The committee are divided on the issue. (plural verb, treating the committee members as individuals)

Rule 2: Context Matters

Sometimes, the context of the sentence can influence the choice between singular and plural verb agreement with a collective noun. For instance, if you use a collective noun together with words that suggest individuality, such as «each,» «every,» or «member,» then use a plural verb.


– Each team member brings their own strengths. (plural verb, emphasizing individuality)

– Every committee member has their own opinion. (plural verb, emphasizing individuality)

Rule 3: Collective Nouns with Singular or Plural Meanings

Some collective nouns have both singular and plural meanings, depending on the context. In these cases, use the appropriate verb agreement that reflects the intended meaning.


– The band is performing tonight. (singular meaning: the band is considered a unit)

– The band are tuning their instruments. (plural meaning: the band members are individuals)

– The jury has reached a verdict. (singular meaning: the jury is considered a unit)

– The jury are deliberating on the case. (plural meaning: the jury members are individuals)

In conclusion, subject-verb agreement with collective nouns requires careful consideration of the context and meaning of the noun in question. By following the rules outlined above, you can ensure that your writing is grammatically correct and clear to your readers. Happy writing!