Click here to read the Golden rules for Spotting Errors – Part 2 prepared by SBI PO Focus Team

Collective Nouns: A collective noun is a word that represents a group of person, animals or things, e.g. audience, committee, company, council, army, police, society, board, department, cabinet etc. The following rules govern the form of verb to be used with a collective noun:

Rule 10 When the group acts as a unit, the verb should be singular.

The committee has agreed to submit its report on Friday.

The Board of Directors meets once in a month.

The firm is one of the most reputed in the country.

The majority has made its decision.

Rule 11 When the members of the group are thought of as acting separately, the verb should be plural.

The teams are arguing over who should be the captain. (individual members in the team are arguing)

The committee were not in agreement on the action to be taken.

The audience were cheering and laughing; even crying.

Rule 12 Company names may be either singular or plural, according to their meaning. The plural form emphasizes the individual personnel making up the company.

Mudra and Corporation have retained the goodwill of their customers.

The oil Corporation is located at Nariman Point, Mumbai.

Rule 13 When nouns expressing periods of time, amounts of money, or quantities are considered

as a single unit, singular verbs are used.

The rupees seems too much for the job.

Three months is too long a time to wait.

The number of board members is very small.

That Rs 1,00,000 was an inheritance from my father.

Yes, 5 metres is ample for a suit.

Rule 14 After such expression as one-half of, two-thirds of, a part of, a majority of.

(a) use a singular verb if a singular noun follows the of.

A part of the office is closed.

Two-thirds of the mailing list has been typed.

A majority of 3500 indicates his popularity in the constituency.

(b) use a plural verb when a plural noun follows the of.

Part of the walls are to be painted.

Two-thirds of our workers live in the suburbs.

The majority of our staff members live in villages.

Rule 15 The expression the number has a singular meaning and requires a singular verb, whercas the expression a number has a plural meaning and takes a plural verb.

The number of board members is very small.

A number of board members were absent.

The number of orders still to be executed is estimated at nearly a hundred.

The majority of our staff are going on leave.

Rule 16 In sentences containing the words one of, the verb is chosen as follows:

(a) In simple form one of or one of the, a singular verb is used.

One of the reasons for his demotion is his carelessness.

One of the pens is missing from my desk.

(b) The sentences containing phrases one of those who or one of the things that, a plural verb is required.

He is one of those managers who favour increasing the staff.

Here, favour agrees with those. In the phrase one of those who, those is the plural object of the preposition of. In the subordinate clause who favour, the relative pronoun who is the subject and must agree with its antecedent those.

Mr Verma is one of our officers who are accompanying me.

He is one of our employees who are always alert.

However, when only precedes one oflone of those, a singular verb is used.

Ramesh is the only one of our employees who is always alert.

Mr Verma is the only one of our officers who is accompanying me.

Rule 17 Certain collective nouns, though singular in form, are always used in the plural sense and take a plural verb. For example, gentry, cattle, poultry, alphabet, offspring etc.

These poultry are ready for sale.

There are twenty-six alphabets in English.

The cattle are grazing near the canal.

Rule 18 Certain nouns are always used in singular and followed by singular verbs. These are not used in the plural sense and do not take on plural verbs. For example hair, issue, advice, information, scenery, luggage, mischief, bread, abuse, furniture, land, business, machinery, poetry etc.

Her hair has turned grey now.

The scenery of Kasauli is beautiful.

Is there any information in this regard?

All the machinery is old.

I have sold all the furniture that was useless.

My luggage is lying at the bus stand.

Note: A plural sense is often expressed by using some other suitable word before the above nouns. For example:

He gave me many pieces of advice. (not advices)

I have brought many items of furniture. (not furnitures)

They have purchased many plots of land. (not lands)

Rule 19 The words each, every, either and neither, used as pronouns or as adjectives, are always singular and require singular verbs.

Each of them does have political ambitions.

Each employee is responsible for clearing his desk in the evening.

Neither of the boys is eligible for taking the examination.

Neither boy is eligible for selection.

Exception: If a parenthetical each follows a plural noun or pronoun, the verb should be plural.

The members each feel their responsibility.

They each have their own problems.

Ten each of these books are required.

Rule 20 All, any, more, most, some may be singular or plural depending on the meaning, and take verbs accordingly.

Some of the books seem too old.

Some of the food is not good.

All the typing has been finished.

All the reports have been typed.

Most of the goods have been sold.

Most of the stock has been sold, but more of these shirts are due.

Rule 21 The titles of books or magazines are considered singular and take singular verbs.

The Hindustan Times still has wide circulation.

The Two Faces of Indira Gandhi is a best seller.

Rule 22 The following works and their compounds are always singular and require a singular verb.

Body (anybody, everybody, nobody, somebody)

Thing (anything, everything, nothing, something)

One (anyone, everyone, someone, no one0

Something is wrong with him these days.

Everybody in the office has tickets.

Everyone is required to clear their dues.

Nobody knows the trouble I have seen.

No one is entitled to have his debts cancelled.

Rule 23 A relative pronoun (Who, Which, that) used as a subject takes a singular or plural verb to accord with its antecedent.

Measles is among the diseases that are curable.

This is the only one of the local papers that prints a weekly horoscope.

Click here to read the Golden rules for Spotting Errors – Part 1 prepared by SBI PO Focus Team