Usage of Nouns – Part II – Verbal with Sujit

In continuation to our series ‘Verbal with Sujit’, we bring yet another important facet to  nouns which is “Collective Nouns”.

(You can buy this book here)

A collective names a group (of things,animals or persons). It is similar to a non-countable noun except that we can clearly count the constituents or the members in the group.

Usage Notes:

1) Collective Nouns generally take a singular verb.

Correct: A group of boys is waiting outside.

Correct: A group of boys and girls is waiting outside.

Incorrect: A group of boys and girls are coming to meet you.

A group of boys and girls is just as collective as a group of boys or a herd of cattle and other collective nouns.

2) The team has won the match OR The team have won the match?

A few collective nouns (usually the single word ones like family,committee) take a singular verb when we think of them as a single unit and takes a plural verb when we think of the members within the unit.

A few other collective nouns: army, audience, board, cabinet, class, committee, company, corporation, council,  department,  faculty, family, firm, group, jury, majority, minority, navy, public,school,society,team,troupe.

Correct: The jury is giving their verdict.

Correct: The jury are taking their seats.

Correct: The team has won the match.

3) Companies and organizations are generally considered singular.

Correct: Tata Motors has increased their profits.

Incorrect: Tata Motors have increased their profits.

However, Singh, Agarwal and Associates is the name of a firm of CAs and calls for a singular verb,some people use the plural form in informal context.

Correct: Singh, Agarwal and Associates is a premier chartered accountancy firm.

Correct: Singh, Agarwal and Associates are distinguished provider of financial advisory services.

Competitive exams rarely ask such debatable questions, it is wise to stick to the singular verb companies.

4)India have won the match OR India has won the match?

The names of sports team have to be treated as plurals regardless of the form of that name.

Correct: India have won the match.India are a great team.

Correct: Bangalore have recruited a new batsman.

5) The trousers that she is wearing is expensive OR The trousers that she is wearing are expensive?

A few nouns in English appear to be in the plural form but take a singular verb . These nouns need to be recognized and given the correct verb. One cannot arrive at the verb by reasoning. We can say that the number( singular or plural) is attributed to these nouns.

Correct: The news is shocking ( News is singular).

Correct: Gymnastics is popular in China. ( Gymnastics will always take a singular verb.)

Correct: Economics is a subject at B.Com ( Economics, Mathematics, Statistics as subjects of study are singular.)

Correct: My pair of trousers is expensive.

Correct: The trousers that she is wearing are expensive.

6)Cupsful or Cupfuls?

Compound Nouns- Compound Nouns are formed by the combination of two or more words. They are of the following types:

a) One word compound nouns: doorknob, bookmark, greenhouse, firefly, softball, keyboard, makeup, notebook.

b) Hyphenated Compound Nouns: age-group, runner-up, great grandmother, mother-in-law, paper-clip, eight-year-old, lady-in-waiting.

c) Compound Nouns of two or more words- dinning room, motion picture, fish monger, vegetable vendor.

These nouns pose a problem when pluralized. There are broad guidelines about how to pluralize compound nouns, but we can find exceptions to these rules. However, when in doubt consult a good dictionary.

a) The one word compound nouns can be easily pluralized by adding an “s” or “es” at the end of such nouns: doorknobs, fireflies, necklaces.

b) The hyphenated compound nouns can be pluralized by making the most important part of the word plural: age-groups, runners-up, great-grandmothers, mothers-in-law, paper-          clips, eight-year-olds, ladies-in-waiting, passers-by, lookers-on.

c) Compound Nouns of two or more words can be pluralized by making the most important part of the word plural.*

dinning rooms, motion pictures, fish mongers, vegetable vendors.

*Note- Words like spoonful, plateful, and cupful do not follow the same principle. They form their plurals by adding an “s” at the end, even though the principal words are spoon,plate and cup.

7) Parag’s and Bhavin’s plans AND Parag and Bhavin’s plans.

Compound Possessives.

Parag and Bhavin’s plans- The plans have been drawn up by Parag and Bhavin together, or they have the same plans.

Parag’s and Bhavin’s plans- The plans have been drawn up individually and they have different plans. When one of the nouns is a pronoun use possessive of both.

Correct: Parag’s and my plans.

Incorrect: Parag and my plans.

8) My friends object to me smoking OR My friends object to my smoking?

A gerund is the ing form of any verb that functions like a noun. Eg. Swimming is a sport. Walking is good for your health.

Gerunds need to be preceeded by a possessive pronoun.

Incorrect: My friends object to me smoking.

Correct: My friends object to my smoking.



This excerpt has been reproduced from the book “The Pearson Guide to Verbal Ability for the CAT and other MBA Entrance Examinations” by Sujit Kumar  published by Dorling Kindersley India Pvt Ltd, licensees of Pearson Education in South Asia. The content has been reproduced with permission from the author.

The author has a vast experience in training students appearing for various competitive exams. He has been preparing candidates for Verbal Ability, Group Discussion and Personal Interview for more than a decade. Apart from holding a diploma in management and corporate experience of more than 10 years, the author holds a masters degree in English Literature. He is currently working with CPLC,Mumbai as a Faculty and a part of the senior management.