Singular and plural. Collective nouns and the number of the verb

    The content of these guidelines is taken from the Vives University Network’s Interuniversity Style Guide for Writing Institutional Texts, an interuniversity project in which the UPC participated with the support of the Secretariat for Universities and Research of the Government of Catalonia.


    Words denoting groups

    • In collective nouns applying to groups of people, you can use either singular or plural verbs. If you wish to imply unanimity or unity, use a singular verb; if you want to talk about varied opinions or only one part of the group, use the plural.

      The University's Governing Council is considering the matter.
      The Committee were divided over tuition fees.


    Geographical areas and organisations

    • Countries, regions and organisations take a singular verb even when they have a plural name, unless there is some reason to stress the individual parts.

      The Balearic Islands is a self-governing region of Spain.
      The United Nations is charged with the maintenance of international peace.
      The Canary Islands are made up of thirteen islands, all of which are volcanic in origin.