I think "benefits" refers back to "The new line" and not "vehicles." Am I right to use benefits here and not benefit? Full sentence:

"The new line of vehicles benefits from a rear-motor short-course chassis."

  • I'd use notional agreement myself here, as it's the vehicles rather than a line that have the new feature. So I'd model on 'The majority of vehicles benefit from ...'. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 7 '18 at 0:10
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    This is about a specific line of vehicles, not a majority of miscellaneous vehicles. Thanks! – Steve Mar 7 '18 at 0:12
  • There is a jarring effect. I'd use 'The new model benefits from ...' or 'The vehicles in our new line benefit from ...'. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 7 '18 at 0:15
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    I agree @EdwinAshworth. The very fact that the question has been asked indicates the dichotomy of hearing a plural 'subject' against a singular verb. The only way out is to re-word. Otherwise one chooses the 'correct' grammar at the expense of the 'wrong' sound. – Nigel J Mar 7 '18 at 6:48
  • This does seem to work better when dealing with a defining or identifying characteristic of the line, such as some aspect of the original conception of the line, as opposed to something less intrinsic. Compare with "the new line of vehicles benefit from the latest basecoat/clearcoat paint technology." Chassis architecture is identifiable with and inherited from the line's design in a way that paint isn't. And this seems to matter when deciding to go with the group singular. – Phil Sweet Mar 7 '18 at 22:41

Stan Carey, at Wordpress.com ... nouns of multitude, has a valuable article including:

Nouns of multitude are wholes that comprise similar parts. They are a type of collective noun; examples include committee, team, government, jury, Ministry, army, group, party, crowd, flock, generation, mob, staff, department, family, crew, clergy, herd, syndicate, faculty, audience, public, company, Congress, orchestra, firm, and Parliament.

There is confusion over whether nouns of multitude are singular (the collective entity) or plural (the individuals in it). In fact they are both, or rather they can be either. This ambiguity means that there are better and worse ways to use them – but there is no definitive right and wrong way. To tease out the details we must look more closely at how they are used.

When using nouns of multitude with verbs and pronouns, the main thing is to be consistent. The following examples are not:

After the jury returns with their verdict…

The committee has agreed that after their AGM next week…

These lines are missing what is known as “notional agreement” or “notional concord”. They are unlikely to bother the casual reader, but they are likely to be revised in edited prose. More conspicuously aberrant is an example I read over the weekend:

The Minister for Sports, Arts and Tourism, Martin Cullen[,] said the team was deserving winners ...

While 'line [of vehicles]' seems logically to be another member of this set (if one allows that 'group of stars / conditions / principles / ideas show examples of noun-of-multitude usages), it is nowhere nearly as frequently used as say 'group/crowd of people'. So, while 'a group of people were making their way up the street' sounds fine (at least to most people in the UK), 'the new line of vehicles benefit from ...' sounds more jarring. But 'The new line of vehicles benefits from a rear-motor short-course chassis' logically means that the new line, not the vehicles themselves, has the benefits. And imagine saying '80% of the vehicles has the rear-motor ...'. I'm not saying that 'The new line of vehicles benefits from a rear-motor short-course chassis' can't be considered as a grammatical transferred usage, but I'm explaining that many might well consider it unidiomatic (and suggesting why).

I'd suggest a rewrite:

"We have a new line of vehicles, which benefit from having a rear-motor short-course chassis."

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