Are Entities Singular or Plural?

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!

Yeah, Yea, Yay, or No Way!

When your son’s baseball team scores a run, what do you say? Yeah, yea, or yay?

  • Yeah means yes. It means yes informally, but means yes nonetheless.
  • Yea also means yes and is also an affirmative vote (the opposite of nay).
  • Yay is an exclamation used to express joy and excitement, like when your son’s baseball team scores a run.

Hopefully yay is the correct answer to the first question. Is the opposite also true?

  • Nope means no and is informal.
  • Nah also means no and is also informal.
  • Nay is an archaic no and also is a negative vote (the opposite of yea).

Any of these are correct informal replacements for no but none of them is as fun as yay! Let’s make it a point to notice something worthy of a big “YAY!” today!

Generational Designations and Commas

JrWhen a father and son have the exact same name (first, middle, and last) the son would use Jr. and the father would use Sr. If a son/grandson continues with the same exact name, the grandson would use III and father and grandfather could continue using Jr. and Sr. or could change to II and I, respectively. The Roman numeral designation II can also be used where a child is named after another relative like an uncle or grandfather. Royalty would always use the Roman numeral designations. The issue comes with whether or not to use a comma. According to the Gregg Reference Manual, the trend is not to use a comma to set off those elements, but the person’s preference should always be respected. If you know that the person prefers the comma in their name, follow these rules:

  • When the name is on a line all by itself, use only one comma between the name and the designation.

John Jones, Jr.

  • When there is language following the name, use a comma before and after the designation.

John Jones, Jr., is my son’s best friend.

  • When the name is possessive, drop the second comma after the designation.

John Jones, Sr.’s car is being repossessed.

  • When the name is followed by a stronger punctuation mark–such as an opening parenthesis, a semicolon, or a dash.

John Jones, Jr. (he is the president of the business club)

  • When the name is inverted, for example in a list in alphabetical order by last name, set off the designation with commas.

Jones, John K., Jr.

When preparing a letter from someone using the Jr., Sr., I, II, or III designation, you do not need to use the designation in the reference initials unless you need it to distinguish this person from another person in the same organization. For instance, a letter I type for Henry R. Miller, Jr. at Miller and Miller Law, P.C., a firm where his father also works, would show the reference initials hrmjr/kas.

Remember that these rules are in instances where the person prefers a comma before their generational designation. In cases where they do not prefer a comma, all of this information is unnecessary, but hopefully at least interesting.