Subject/Verb Agreement for Corporation & Organization name

fish-5dbg050108Have you ever wondered if it’s okay to say, “The corporation had their records audited” or whether you should say, “The corporation had its records audited”? This is basically a subject-verb agreement issue. Let’s begin by reviewing what style guides say regarding this issue: “Is a corporation a single entity or a group of people?”

Let’s look at it this way: if Company X is an entity, then anyone writing about it should probably say, “Company X launched its latest money-saving offer.” Just my opinion. Now let’s go to the experts.

The Gregg Reference Manual, Ninth Edition, by William Sabin says that when using organizational names, treat them as either singular or plural (but not both). Ordinarily, it suggests you treat the name as singular unless you wish to emphasize the individuals who make up the organization. In that case, use the plural.

Gregg uses these examples to make sure there’s subject-verb agreement:

Brooks & Rice has lost its lease. It is not looking for a new location. OR Brooks & Rice have lost their lease. They are now looking for…But NOT Brooks & Rice has lost its lease. They are now looking…

THEY or IT? If the organization is referred to as “they” or “who,” use a plural verb with the company name. If the organization is referred to as “it” or “which,” use a singular verb.

Professor Charles Darling says, “The names of companies and other organizations are usually regarded as singular, regardless of their ending: ‘General Motors has announced its fall lineup of new vehicles.’ Try to avoid the inconsistency that is almost inevitable when you think of corporate entities as a group of individuals: ‘General Motors has announced their fall lineup of new vehicles.’”

Okay. Your assignment: choose whatever helps the reader or listener understand as clearly as possible.

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