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The first sentence sounds grammatically correct but really weird. Meanwhile, the second sentence sounds grammatically incorrect but much better.

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In this sentence, the subject is the "group". The group just so happens to be made up of kids. If you were to ignore the "of kids", then "The group was punished" would be the grammatically correct sentence as opposed to "The group were punished". So, the sentence will be "A group of kids was punished".

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    What you are really asking is whether collective nouns take singular or plural verbs. The answer is that it all depends on the user, the context, the construction and the idiom. And while the general preference is for singular verbs, the only sure rule is to be consistent. No English speaker would be bothered if you said that the group of kids were being a real nuisance. Indeed, many might well prefer the plural. grammarly.com/blog/collective-nouns englishstudypage.com/grammar/… dictionary.com/e/collective-nouns Oct 29, 2020 at 20:36

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