Which one is correct?

A series of policies across the DoD and Federal Government has/have been developed.

  • Technically speaking, A series of policies was introduced might seem more "logical", but that link finds only 1240 written instances of the singular verb form in Google Books, whereas there are 3790 hits for the plural verb form A series of policies were introduced. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Nov 13 '18 at 15:47
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  • @FF I dont think it is a duplicate because "series" is used (or perhaps misused) in both singular and plural senses in the US. – Jeff Morrow Nov 13 '18 at 16:07
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    @Jeff: So are most other "group" nouns (such as group itself, series, set, number, etc.). I really don't see why we should need a separate question for each term where this "uncertain plurality" issue arises. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Nov 13 '18 at 16:12
  • @FF. Because both the singular and plural of "series" have the same morphological form, it is impossible to know whether what is intended by "the series of policies" is "the set of policies" or the "sets of policies." The "set of policies has been developed" is correct as is the "the sets of policies have been developed." The intended meaning can be determined only by reference to the verb. So we cannot tell which verb is correct unless we know what meaning is intended. However, it has been pointed out to me that the actual quote uses an indefinite article. So I am deleting my post. – Jeff Morrow Nov 13 '18 at 17:53

I believe the difference depends on the context. If they policies were developed in unison as a single intentionally cohesive series, then perhaps you would want to use "has been developed". However, if the policies were developed individually and only form a series by the fact that they are relevant to one another, then perhaps you would want to use "have been developed". In this case the grammar choice can be used to further specify the meaning you intend.

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