Collective Nouns

Should I use A Singular or A Plural Verb with Collective Nouns such as government, committee and family?

Such nouns are used to refer both to a whole group as a singular entity and to the members of the group. The context may therefore require flexibility. You might write:

• The committee has now come to a decision.

But you could hardly use a singular verb in this sentence.

• The committee have now taken their seats. (WRONG)

A pedant might insist on writing : The members of the committee have now taken their seats.

In some contexts it is natural and idiomatic to use a plural verb with a noun which is singular in form:

• I have invited my family to tea and they are coming on Friday

• Leeds United are winning. They have just scored.

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