As a copy editor, one of the key elements that I often come across is the subject-verb agreement. While it may seem like a straightforward grammar rule, it can be quite tricky when it comes to using collective nouns. Collective nouns refer to a group of people, animals, or things and typically take a singular verb in a sentence.
Examples of collective nouns include teams, committees, groups, herds, and flocks. When using these nouns in a sentence, it is essential to ensure that the verb agrees with the subject in number.
For instance, let`s take the example of a sentence that reads, “The team is excited about the project.” Here, “team” is a collective noun, and the verb “is” agrees in number with the singular noun.
However, things can get a bit confusing when the collective noun is followed by a prepositional phrase that contains a plural noun. For example, in the sentence, “The team of players are training hard.” Here, we have a collective noun “team” followed by a prepositional phrase “of players,” which is a plural noun. In this case, the verb “are” agrees with the plural noun “players” and not the collective noun “team.”
Similarly, when using collective nouns like “committee” or “jury,” it is essential to ensure that the verb agrees with the collective noun, not the individual members of the group. For instance, in the sentence, “The committee is meeting today,” the verb “is” agrees in number with the singular collective noun “committee,” not the individual members of the committee.
In conclusion, collective nouns can be a bit tricky to use correctly when it comes to subject-verb agreement. The key is to ensure that the verb agrees with the collective noun and not the individual members of the group or any plural nouns within a prepositional phrase. By following this simple rule, you can ensure that your writing is grammatically correct and easy to understand.