The team is very happy with their captain.

Which is the correct way to correct the above given sentence? Should I change is to are or should I change their to its?

2 Answers 2


Collective nouns such as team can take singular agreement or plural agreement.

This is true even in American English (see here and here), but the circumstances where AmE accepts a plural verb are somewhat narrower. The terms "public", "committee", and "government" often take plural agreement in British English but singular in American English.

Many usage guides, including British ones, advocate a distinction between sentences such as "The team is united" (where the team is conceived as unitary) and "The team are divided" (where the team is conceived as individual members).

In your sentence, the team has a unanimous view, so best practice in both BrE and AmE would arguably favour singular agreement: "The team is very happy with its captain." Even here, many BrE speakers would use the plural form.


"Team" is a collective noun that can be described as a group of players forming one side in a competitive game or sport.

When these players are part of a collective noun, that noun becomes singular and requires singular verbs and pronouns

So, the correct usage will be:

The team is very happy with its captain.

However, as @Andrew correctly pointed out, This is specific to American English. In British English, it’s absolutely fine to treat most collective nouns as either singular or plural

  • Actually this is not entirely correct, especially in the UK where they are more particular about their use of collective nouns. See here. The correct answer is "it depends on what you want to say and whether you are talking to a British or an American person.
    – Andrew
    Sep 14, 2017 at 6:17
  • @Andrew I would personally prefer adding "members" to make it "Team members are very happy with their captain". Thanks for pointing that out, will edit the answer accordingly, I guess you learn something new everyday
    – Satya
    Sep 14, 2017 at 6:34
  • Yeah, those Brits and their weird English. :)
    – Andrew
    Sep 14, 2017 at 6:35

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