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Are collective nouns always plural, or are certain ones singular?

Should company names be followed by "has" or "have"? It depends on whether a company is treated as a singular proper-noun:

Samsung has gotten itself in a lot of trouble recently.

Or plural proper-noun:

Samsung have stated they don't imitate cooler products.

Are both acceptable?


A company is a collective entity. When referring to a company by name, it is the overall entity that is being referenced. It is treated as a single thing for the purpose of verb (and pronoun) agreement.

While there are other collectives that may, at times be treated as a plural to reflect the multiplicty of the participants in the activity or characteristic, even when a company is a conglomerate of many smaller companies, the name use is singular.

Time-Warner collects revenue from all of its subsidiaries.

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  • 2
    This is true in American English. However, in British English, "TimeWarner collect [...] from their [...]" is unobjectionable. See the question this has been closed as a duplicate of. – RegDwigнt Aug 10 '12 at 11:46
  • @RegDwight AAA - Thanks for the info on the distinction. – bib Aug 10 '12 at 12:03

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