What is the correct grammar rule for the verb "be" after a collective noun?

e.g. A group of people (is or are) getting off the bus. A flock of birds (is or are) flying south.?

2 Answers
Mar 18, 2018

The correct form of the verb to be after a collective noun is "are".


Collective nouns are singular, which places them on the same level with subjects like he and she. In fact, conjugations of verbs in English are often quite simple as the conjugation of it in with different subjects is the same for most of them (conjugation is much harder in French). However, conjugation of verbs is something you just have to memorise (it is much easier for native speakers than for people learning English as a second language, for they speak English all the time). The conjugation of the verb to be in the indicative present are as follows:
I (to be): am
You (to be): are
He/she (to be): are
They (to be): are
We (to be): are

Is for a singular subject.
Are for a plural subject.


Collective nouns can be singular or plural.

Examples of collective nouns:

Examples of singular collective nouns:
The group is heading north.
The flock is flying south.

Examples of plural collective nouns:
Two groups are participating.
Many flocks are migrating in the fall.