In Longman's advanced grammar book the rule says 'The form of the present simple verb only changes after he, she or it, when we add -s to the base form (-es after o, s, sh, ch and x; -ies when the base form ends in -y)

In an example : A colony of Antarctic penguins lives in Marwell Zoo.

My understanding : add 's' only if he, she or it is present

My question: is 'A colony of Antarctic penguins' considered as 'it'? Or am i missing something else?

  • 5
    The rule is badly stated: replace after he, she or it with after a third-person singular subject. Jun 25, 2017 at 14:30
  • @StoneyB got it Jun 25, 2017 at 14:59

1 Answer 1


Yes, "A colony of Antarctic penguins" is considered as "it". Indeed, the subject of this sentence is "A colony". The penguins just represent the composition of the colony. You could replace the sentence by "A colony lives in the city." Therefore, the subject is singular and at the 3rd person. You have to use the -s rule.

So you would write:

A colony of Arctic penguins lives in the city.

Or if the penguins were the subject, you would write:

Some Arctic penguins live in the city.

  • 1
    +1 Cause a colony is singular, meaning it and pinguins is plural, meaning they. Jun 25, 2017 at 14:58
  • @SovereignSun because, not cause :) Jun 25, 2017 at 15:07
  • @SovereignSun The word "pinguins" don't exist. The plural is either "Pinguine" in German or "pinguinen" in Luxembourgish.
    – alephzero
    Jun 25, 2017 at 20:12
  • @JimMacKenzie An easy mistake to make, considering that the bird is пингвин in Russian ("pingvin"). Jun 25, 2017 at 20:56
  • @alephzero I've almost never used this word in Englush, yeh penguins is correct. Jun 26, 2017 at 5:46

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