Subject–Verb Agreement, Miscellaneous

SVA 5.1 Agreement in case of pair nouns

Pair nouns are usually used to refer to certain things that consist of two similar parts. Most pair nouns refer to tools or devices or to clothes that cover one’s legs. A pair noun is plural and takes a plural verb.

  • These trousers need cleaning.
  • My glasses are missing.

Most common pair nouns are scissors, glasses, spectacles, binoculars, and trousers.

SVA 5.2 Agreement in case of names, titles, and collective nouns

Collective nouns refer to a group of people or things, such as family, team, and crowd. Though they are usually singular, they can be plural too. If the entire group as a whole is implied, the verb is usually singular. If, however, individual components are implied, the verb is plural.

  • The committee unanimously agrees to the proposed amendments.
  • The committee have provided a split verdict.

Names of institutions and companies are also collective nouns and can be considered singular or plural. So is the case with sports teams.

  • India has/have lost the semifinals match against England.
  • Airtel has/have lost 30 lakh subscribers in Kashmir.

In general, collective nouns are treated as singular in American English; however, in British English, they can take either form. In general, the requirement is spelled out in the style sheet. If not, the style manual followed will provide clues. The decision is, most of the time, taken based on the type of English followed, British or North American.

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