Grammar Repair Shop: Is it ‘staff is’ or ‘staff are’? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Grammar Repair Shop: Is it ‘staff is’ or ‘staff are’?

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Problem: Whether to use singular or plural verbs and pronouns with collective nouns that represent a group, such as "board," "jury" and "staff."

Lesson: The answer depends upon whether the group's pieces are acting together or as individuals.


"The staff were organized into three groups." Note: You could avoid the problem altogether by using "staff members."

"The jury is sequestered."

Don't mix singular verbs and plural pronouns for the same collective noun.

Wrong: "The board meets regularly and follows their agenda tightly."

Right: The board meets regularly and follows its agenda tightly."

Peeved by a common error? Puzzled by perplexing grammar rules? Send us an e-mail at with the subject "Grammar." Or call us at (703) 905-4850.

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