When referring to literature in the sense of academic literature or philosophical literature I have sometimes heard people use the noun as if it were similar to the word 'people.' For example: 'The literature have confirmed this hypothesis.' I have also heard people use the noun as if it were singular (e.g. 'The literature has confirmed this hypothesis.'

Is there one usage that is more acceptable/correct in formal writing?


Literature is typically used to describe a collective body of writings; as such, it takes a singular verb despite the fact it refers to many works. The word is almost always preceded by an adjective or attributive noun to identify a specific body of works:

English literature

scientific literature

product literature (archaic)

Literature also connotes writings of higher quality within the category and can be used in a plural form, literatures, but is rarely called for.

Of all the Asian literatures, Asian poetry attracts me most.

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  • Fine, but how does that answer the question at hand? – Kris Dec 1 '14 at 6:19
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    "... it takes a singular noun despite the fact it refers to many works." (Of course, I meant "verb." – Tightwriter Dec 1 '14 at 6:21

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