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In writing about the National Archives, I got to wondering about subject-verb agreement. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA, often called simply The National Archives) is one entity, but when using the nickname, it would appear at first glance to be plural.

So, even though Archives is plural, because it is a single entity, does it still take a singular verb?

Note: I see on the NARA website, in the menu at the bottom, there is a link labelled What is the National Archives? so it would appear that they believe the nickname is singular.

Does it matter that the full name of the agency is the National Archives and Records Administration? When using the full name, I think it is clear that the verb should be singular (to match with the singular administration):

The National Archives and Records Administration is the nation's record keeper.

I'm just not 100% certain about the situation when using the shortened nickname:

The National Archives is the nation's record keeper.

I found a question singular entity as a collection of subjects that is similar, but there does not seem to have a definitive answer and does not have the same twist of the full name being obviously singular.

  • There have been many questions on the site which concern "singular or plural" as regards sports teams. You may findthis list helpful. – WS2 Oct 22 '18 at 20:04
  • I would suggest that in this particular case, one could argue for either. I would use whatever seemed right in the context. – WS2 Oct 23 '18 at 7:32
  • There is a similar problem (not really a problem) with companies who call themselves things like "Dream Technologies"; despite the plural in the name, it is still a single entity and so "Dream Technologies is ..." would be appropriate. – user323578 Apr 21 at 19:00
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Does it matter that the full name of the agency is the National Archives and Records Administration?

Yes. The subject is that particular administration, and that would make it singular, even if you abbreviated it.

If, however, you were talking about the actual, physical National Archives in Washington DC, (which NARA administers :) ), then you are talking about a plural subject.

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