Subject/Verb Agreement, Part 2

LI & QzzrSubject/verb agreement. Such a simple idea, but fraught with difficulties for a few writers.

What do I mean? Well, the idea that a singular subject takes a single verb seems simple, right? And plural subjects take plural verbs.

The issue seems to come when we don’t clearly identify the subject as singular and we then use a plural verb.

And before you read the rest of this post, you might want to check my previous one on this subject. 

Why? Because I want to add some information to the second part, that of collective nouns, which are often subjects in a sentence. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Oh, good.You’re back!

So, now you remember how to use collective nouns, but do you realize that LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook can be seen as one?

I regularly read something like the following:  “Facebook are going to make its formatting. . .”  “The company have said that it will . . . “


Do you see the difficulty there? Yes. Plural verbs with a singular pronoun following it, which is intended to reflect back to the subject, which must then be seen as singular . . . with a plural verb.


So, here’s the deal:

If you’re using a singular verb, the subject MUST be singular as well. If you’re going to use a singular pronoun to stand in for the subject, the subject MUST be singular. And so must your verb.

We can’t have it both ways, dear readers.

So, back to keeping things simple:

     Twitter has said it will . . .
     Facebook is amending its . . .
     The company has honored its word with that apology.
     The firm always helps other firms to . . .
     LinkedIn has announced it will . . .

If for some reason you consider a company to be plural, do your readers a favor (and make yourself look good in the process): Add an appropriate plural word such as members, citizens, helpers, officers, editors.

     The committee members are saying they will meet tomorrow.
     The firm’s vice presidents have called a meeting for their teams.
     Facebook’s editors have . . .
     The LinkedIn trolls are . . .

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