1. The crowd is clapping their hands.
  2. The crowd are clapping their hands.
  3. The crowd is clapping its hands.

Which one of the above is a correct sentence?

The word 'crowd', being a collective noun, can take a singular verb when the members of the group are doing the same thing at the same time.

Then, what about its possessive pronoun? Should it be its or their ?

This site (dummies.com) says "Body parts always belong to individuals, not to groups." It means that "their" is correct. But the site does not say about the verb whether it should be singular or plural in a sentence like the ones shown above.


1 Answer 1


Which one of the above is a correct sentence?

I don't think a native English speaker would say any of these. This is often the case with these 'which is correct' questions... because there is a basic ambiguity. We would say, "The crowd is clapping." The 'hands' part is implied.

It needs to be 'The crowd is' never 'The crowd are', at least in American English. The same with 'The audience is'. But we would say 'The people are'.

  • 2
    I agree; however, the question is asking about 'crowd' as a noun and the appropriate verb tense and number agreement. "The crowd is waving its arms" would be grammatically correct, though it sounds a little awkward. And saying just "The crowd is waving" would leave it ambiguous what the crowd was waving, unlike clapping.
    – rcook
    Jul 14, 2020 at 12:41
  • @rcook: Yes, this is exactly my question is about. Thank you. Jul 14, 2020 at 12:55
  • @Vaughn Ohlman: The audience was/were waving its/their hands. Which is correct? Jul 14, 2020 at 13:01
  • Awkward. If I really wanted to say such a thing, I would probably add 'all'... thus, "The audience were all waving their hands." Jul 14, 2020 at 13:41

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