NOUNS AND AGREEMENT
It’s time for a new free English lesson! In this English lesson, you will learn more about specific types of nouns and their agreement with verbs. By now you already know a few basic things about agreement. In case you’re new here, check out the blog post on Agreement. However, there are certain groups of nouns which you need to pay special attention to. These nouns sometimes cause problems even to native speakers, so don’t you worry! ☺
Before I go on to explaining each group in details, here is a list of these groups of nouns:
1. Plural nouns that take plural verbs
2. Plural nouns that take singular verbs
3. Nouns ending in -s in both singular and plural
4. Group/collective nouns:
a) plurals with no singular forms
b) singular nouns with singular/plural verbs
5. Pair nouns
Keep reading and learn MORE TIPS TO IMPROVE your English Grammar.
1. PLURAL NOUNS AND PLURAL VERBS
Some nouns are always plural so they take plural verbs. Some nouns of this kind are: annals, belongings, clothes, congratulations, earnings, goods, odds (=probability), outskirts (=outer parts of a town), particulars (=details), premises (=building), remains (=what is left), surroundings (=what is around you), thanks, troops (=soldiers), whereabouts, etc.
All of our belongings were stolen.
Your clothes are wet.
This is a great achievement and congratulations are extended to all concerned.
The odds are that he is no longer alive.
Thanks are due to all those who worked so hard for so many months.
The troops were ordered back to the barracks.
Her whereabouts remain unknown.
Some nouns have a plural-only form which has a different meaning from the singular or uncountable form.
2. PLURAL NOUNS AND SINGULAR VERBS
There are some nouns which look plural because they end in -s, but normally take a singular verb. Nouns of this kind include:
● Some of the nouns mentioned can take plural verb when they have a more concrete or specific meaning.
His politics are very right-wing. (=his political views)
These darts are quite heavy. (=the objects, not the game)
The statistics are available online. (=some specific figures)
Poor classroom acoustics create a negative learning environment for many students. (=audibility in the classroom)
The teacher told him that his mathematics were well below the standard. (=his understanding of mathematics or his results)
3. NOUNS ENDING IN -s IN BOTH SINGULAR AND PLURAL
There are also a few nouns which end in -s and can be either singular or plural. Some are barracks (=a building where soldiers live), crossroads, headquarters, means, series, species, works (=a factory).
● Barracks, headquarters, and works can take a plural verb even when they refer to a single building or a single group of buildings.
The company’s headquarters was/were close to our house.
4. GROUP/COLLECTIVE NOUNS
Group nouns refer to a group of people. They are also sometimes called ‘collective nouns’. After a singular group noun, the verb is usually singular, but it can also be in plural. We use the singular to talk about the group as a whole, while a plural verb is more likely used when we see the group as consisted of individuals.
The crowd was/were excited to see Rihanna perform.
o Here is a tip for you! ☺ Use singular verbs because this is much more common than the use of the plural.
Group nouns can be divided into:
a) Plurals with no singular form – these take plural verbs
arms, belongings, cattle, clothes, congratulations, contents, customs, earnings, funds, goods, groceries, manners, oats, odds, outskirts, people, police, premises, regards, remains, savings, stairs (a flight of stairs), steps (a flight of steps), surroundings, thanks, the Middle Ages (a period of history), troops
b) Singular nouns with singular/plural verbs
audience, bank, choir, class, club, committee, community, company, crowd, England (the football team), family, firm, government, group, Harrods, jury, management, ministry, orchestra, party (political party), population, press, public, staff, school, team, the BBC, the UN, union
o Remember! Singular verbs are used when the group is seen as a whole. Plural verbs are used when the group is seen as individual people.
o Plural verbs are usually used in British English.
o With plural verbs, use which in relative clauses, not who!
o Sometimes plural and singular forms are mixed, as in The group gave its first concert in June and they are already booked up for the next six months.