As we’ve learned before, a verb must always agree in number and person with the subject. See Singular Verb, Plural Subject, Both . . . and, It’s All About the Agreement. But what if the “person” is an entity? Do you then use a singular or plural verb?
Typically, if you are talking about the entity as a unit, you use singular verb:
- The committee meets on the third Thursday of each month.
- The firm has earned many accolades.
If the entity is a company, it is usually treated as a unit. Just be sure that you carry the treatment as singular or plural every time you are talking about that entity. For instance:
- ABC Corporation has ended its lease term. It is now looking for new office space.
- NOT: ABC Corporation has ended its lease term. They are now looking for new office space. This example is inconsistent in treatment. If you are going to treat ABC Corporation as a single entity, then it is looking for space.
If you are want to emphasize that the members of the entity are acting independently, then a plural verb is correct:
- The committee left the meeting together.
- The staff have successfully staggered their vacations.
- The jury left their notes in the jury box.
To help figure it out, replace the entity with “it” and replace members of the entity with “they” to make sure you are using the right verb. Using the examples above, replace the entity with the word in parenthesis to see how it works:
- The committee (it) meets on the third Thursday of each month.
- The firm (it) has earned many accolades.
- The committee (they) left the meeting together.
- The staff (they) have successfully staggered their vacations.
- The jury (they) left their notes in the jury box.
Hopefully that was useful to you. If it was, please share this post so others can be as smart as you are!