I don't understand well about the rules of Subject and Verb Agreement with Plural Proper Nouns. I found these sentences from the internet.

The West Indies is a large group of islands that separate the Caribbean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean.

The Rocky Mountains are notable for containing the highest peaks in central North America.

When can I use singular or plural verb with Plural Proper Nouns?Could you explain it to me? Thank you very much!

Plus, Plural last names,like the Johnsons and the Smiths and so on,have to take singular or plaral verbs? Can you provide some examples?

1 Answer 1


I think it is because of whether a singular exists or not. The Rocky Mountains have a singular (mountain), as do the Alps (an alp is a very high mountain, specifically one of the Alps). However, The West Indies does not have a singular (the word indie is unrelated). This is the same with the Dutch Antilles, as there is no such thing as an Antille.

Next year, the Smiths are going on holiday (vacation in US English), because there is more than one Smith.

I hope this answers your question!

  • 3
    Nouns without a singular form are called pluralia tantum. Wiktionary has a list of English pluralia tantum. Keeping in mind that the list is imperfect, do you think this list proves or disproves your rule?
    – user230
    Oct 25, 2013 at 13:50
  • 1
    Can I say like these Plural proper nouns (The Rockies, The Falkland Islands etc.) take plural verbs. For example: The Maldives Islands are beautiful. The Falkland Islands are an archipelago located in the South Atlantic Ocean on the Patagonian Shelf. Singular proper nouns like The River Thames, the Unites States take singular verb because they are just singular names that have“s” at the end, but they are not real plural nouns. For example: The River Thames flows through southern England.
    – nkm
    Oct 25, 2013 at 15:14

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .