Are Organizations Singular or Plural Nouns?
  • 3-minute read
  • 4th June 2022

Are Organizations Singular or Plural Nouns?

If you’re writing about an organization, whether it’s a company, a team, or your own business, you’ll need to know whether to treat it as a singular or plural noun.

This can be a complicated topic, so in this post, we explore whether organizations are singular or plural and how to refer to them correctly in different contexts.

Organizations as Collective Nouns

In formal business writing, organizations are usually treated as collective nouns. This means that, although the organization consists of a group of people, it is treated as a single entity.

In British English, collective nouns can be singular or plural, but in US English, they should be referred to with singular pronouns and verbs only:


Bark n’ Bites are a leading dog food manufacturer. They were established in 1999. ✘


Bark n’ Bites is a leading dog food manufacturer. It was established in 1999. ✔

In the above example, Bark n’ Bites is a company made up, presumably, of many different individuals. However, because the company is working toward a single goal (i.e., making dog food), it is treated as a singular, collective noun.

It’s important to remember, though, that the collective noun rule doesn’t always apply.

When Organizations are Plural Nouns

Sometimes, organizations are treated as plural nouns to emphasize the roles of multiple people:


The Bark n’ Bites IT team were debating whether or not to restart the system.

In the above example, the IT team is treated as a plural noun, as the sentence is referring to the individual members within that team debating with each other.

If you do refer to an organization as a plural noun, remember to use the correct subject–verb agreement:

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The Bark n’ Bites IT team were debating its options. ✘


The Bark n’ Bites IT team were debating their options. ✔

Using Plural First-Person Pronouns for an Organization

In commercial copy and less formal internal documents, it’s less common for an organization to be referred to in the singular third person. Take a look at this example:


Here at the Bark n’ Bites HQ, it has been producing quality dog food since 1999. It puts its love of dogs first, which is why your furry friend will be howling for its new bacon-flavored kibble!

While the singular it was appropriate to describe the company in the earlier example, its use here is jarring and awkward. Now, compare the same paragraph written in the first-person plural:


Here at the Bark n’ Bites HQ, we have been producing quality dog food since 1999. We put our love of dogs first, which is why your furry friend will be howling for our new bacon-flavored kibble!

Treating the company as a plural noun in this way is more personal and gives an idea of the team of people behind the organization.

Keep It Consistent

Whether you refer to an organization as singular or plural, the important thing is to remain consistent.

If you have been provided with a company style guide, stick to the noun usage it specifies. Otherwise, decide how you will refer to an organization and make sure all verbs and pronouns throughout your writing agree.

Our expert team can help make sure your noun use is consistent. Submit a free trial document to give us a try.

Comments (2)
Craig Rairdin
30th October 2022 at 16:50
Under "Using Plural First-Person Pronouns for an Organization", "Here at Bark-n-Bites HQ" is describing the location of a group of people, THEY are at the headquarters of the company. So the pronouns should be plural. The first example, where THEY are referred to as IT is not apt. Nobody would even try to say that. Even if it said "Here at Bark-n-Bites" (leaving out "HQ") you would say WE because you're talking about what the people here at the Bark-n-Bites company do, not what the company does. Bark-n-Bites by itself is singular. IT produces quality dog food. IT puts ITS love of dogs first.
    Proofed
    4th November 2022 at 10:08
    Hi, Craig. Thanks for this. Yes, I agree: the singular “it” is used to refer to a company from an objective, more detached point of view, such as the formal writing described in the Organizations as Collective Nouns section. When it’s more personal (for example, “Here at Bark-n-Bites” implies that it’s the company as a group addressing the reader, as seen in the Using Plural First-Person Pronouns for an Organization section), then the first person “we” works better.

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