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Organizational Names: Singular or Plural?

By Judy Vorfeld

Have you ever won­dered whether to say, “The cor­po­ra­tion had their records audited” or “The cor­po­ra­tion had its records audited”?

Now comes the real issue: is a cor­po­ra­tion a sin­gle entity or a group of peo­ple in terms of writ­ing and speak­ing? This is a subject-verb agree­ment issue. But there’s more …

Let’s look at it this way: if Company X is an entity, then any­one writ­ing about it should prob­a­bly say, “Company X launched its lat­est money-saving offer.” Just my opin­ion. Now let’s go to the experts.

The Gregg Reference Manual by William Sabin says that when using orga­ni­za­tional names, treat them as either sin­gu­lar or plural (but not both). Ordinarily, it sug­gests you treat the name as sin­gu­lar unless you wish to empha­size the indi­vid­u­als who make up the orga­ni­za­tion. In that case, use the plural.

Gregg uses these exam­ples to make sure there’s subject-verb agreement:

Brooks & Rice has lost its lease. It is not look­ing for a new loca­tion. OR Brooks & Rice have lost their lease. They are now look­ing for…But NOT Brooks & Rice has lost its lease. They are now looking…

If the orga­ni­za­tion is referred to as “they” or “who,” use a plural verb with the com­pany name. If the orga­ni­za­tion is referred to as “it” or “which,” use a sin­gu­lar verb.

Professor Charles Darling says, “The names of com­pa­nies and other orga­ni­za­tions are usu­ally regarded as sin­gu­lar, regard­less of their end­ing: ‘General Motors has announced its fall lineup of new vehi­cles.’ Try to avoid the incon­sis­tency that is almost inevitable when you think of cor­po­rate enti­ties as a group of indi­vid­u­als: ‘General Motors has announced their fall lineup of new vehicles.’”

Your assign­ment: do what­ever makes the reader under­stand in the clear­est pos­si­ble manner.


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