Writer’s Toolbox

Ask The Writer

Your most pressing and perplexing questions about writing answered here by Gotham teacher Brandi Reissenweber.

Are words like "band" and "jury" singular or plural?

These are collective nouns and they can be tricky. A collective noun refers to a single unit but that single unit is made up of more than one member. There are many nouns that work this way, so it’s worth figuring out how to handle them. That being said, this won’t be a cut and dry answer. A collective noun can be singular or plural, depending on how you use it in a sentence.

When you’re referring to the collective noun as a unit, treat it as singular:

The band lost its spot in the top ten this week.

When you’re referring to the individuals within the group, treat it as plural:

The jury had to sign for their ID badges.

Avoid inconsistencies in agreement:

The band is having a bad day after their bus broke down.

The verb treats "band" as singular, but the pronoun referring to it is plural.

Also, avoid awkward sentences:

The jury are tired and restless.

Sometimes it may make more sense to reword:

The members of the jury are tired and restless.