Singular nouns or noun phrases take a singular form of the verb. There are however some nouns which can take either a singular or a plural verb depending on whether they are seen as a single entity or as a number of individuals. Some examples of this are: family, committee, team, board e.g. The family has moved, the family have all left home.

In the following indicate whether the verb should be singular or plural and consider why these might cause problems

Gap-fill exercise

Fill in all the gaps, then press "Check" to check your answers. Use the "Hint" button to get a free letter if an answer is giving you trouble. You can also click on the "[?]" button to get a clue. Note that you will lose points if you ask for hints or clues!

The reason they gave for the errors was/were no good.
The staff agree/agrees with the new rules.
The news is/are very bad.
Three years is/are a long time.
The £10 you gave me was/were not enough.
Everyone think/thinks that she is right.
Those people is/are not listening.
Politics is/are an interesting subject to study.
His politics is/are very different from mine.
The police has/have recently been armed.

Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies

Produced for the Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies Materials Bank
Author: Jill Cosh, Anglia Ruskin University