Ask the Editor
Serenity Carr, Assistant Editor
Collective Nouns, Prepositional phrases, and Verb Agreement
Wednesday November 27th 2019
Which one of these is correct: "The company of actors was working" or "The company of actors were working"? — Yusra, Pakistan

The correct sentence is "The company of actors was working" because the subject is "company." "Company" is a collective noun which means that it can be singular but it refers to a group of people or things. "of actors" is a prepositional phrase that tells you about the subject, but it is not the subject.


Here are more examples of collective nouns (in boldface), prepositional phrases (underlined), and their verbs (in italics). Notice that while each collective noun describes a group (mentioned in the prepositional phrase), the verbs are singular:

A flock of birds is overhead.

His class of first graders is going on a field trip today.

A herd of elephants roams the land.

A swarm of bees surrounds the hive.


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