As a copy editor who has worked closely with SEO, I know that grammar exercises are an excellent way to improve your writing skills. And one of the most important grammar rules to master is subject-verb agreement. This rule can be tricky to apply, especially when dealing with collective nouns. In this article, we are going to focus on subject-verb agreement with collective nouns and offer some exercises to help improve your writing.

What are collective nouns?

Collective nouns are words that refer to a group of people, animals, or things, such as team, herd, flock, family, or audience. When using collective nouns, we need to pay attention to whether we are referring to the group as a single unit or as individuals within that group.

For example, consider the sentence “The team is playing well.” In this sentence, “team” is a collective noun, and we are referring to the group as a single unit. Therefore, we use the singular verb form “is.”

However, if we were to say “The team are all wearing their lucky socks,” we are now referring to each individual member of the team. Therefore, we use the plural verb form “are.”

Subject-verb agreement with collective nouns

Subject-verb agreement is the grammatical rule that dictates that the subject and verb in a sentence must agree in number. This means that if the subject is singular, the verb must be singular, and if the subject is plural, the verb must be plural.

When dealing with collective nouns, we need to consider whether we are referring to the group as a whole or the individuals within that group. If we are referring to the group as a single unit, we use a singular verb. If we are referring to the individuals within the group, we use a plural verb.

For example:

– The jury is deliberating on the verdict. (referring to the group as a single unit)

– The jury were arguing among themselves. (referring to the individuals within the group)

Exercises to improve subject-verb agreement with collective nouns

Exercise 1:

Choose the correct verb form in the following sentences:

1. The committee (is/are) meeting today.

2. The staff (is/are) in a meeting.

3. My family (is/are) planning a vacation.

4. The flock of birds (was/were) flying south for the winter.

5. The class (is/are) studying for their final exams.

Answer Key:

1. is

2. is

3. is

4. was

5. is

Exercise 2:

Rewrite the following sentences to show subject-verb agreement with collective nouns:

1. The band were playing their instruments loudly.

2. The audience claps their hands at the end of a performance.

3. The herd of cows is grazing in the field.

4. The team of researchers have discovered a new species of butterfly.

5. The group of friends are planning a surprise party for their friend.

Answer Key:

1. The band was playing their instruments loudly.

2. The audience claps its hands at the end of a performance.

3. The herd of cows are grazing in the field.

4. The team of researchers has discovered a new species of butterfly.

5. The group of friends is planning a surprise party for their friend.

Conclusion

Subject-verb agreement is an essential aspect of grammar that can make or break your writing. When dealing with collective nouns, it is crucial to consider whether you are referring to the group as a single unit or as individuals within that group. By practicing these exercises, you can improve your subject-verb agreement with collective nouns and become a better writer.