On subject-verb agreement involving collective nouns, I have read that BrE follows notional agreement, whereas AmE follows more grammatical agreement. For a long sentence, after the first noun, AmE sometimes switches to notional agreement.

I found BrE practising such a switch in a BBC report on 19 March 2021.

The French airports Authority has said it is doing its best to help the Algerians, although the group are not their responsibility. (source)

Are such switches common in BrE?

2 Answers 2


I don't see a change in verb agreement. I do see a change in pronoun from "it/its" (singular and agreeing with "has" and "is") to "their" (which doesn't agree with anything).

The tendency to use notional agreement in BrE is no more than a tendency, not a rule. However I do find the change from singular to plural here very slighly unsettling. It suggests that the writer is changing their notion in the middle of the sentence from "single organisation" to "multiple associated individuals".

I do not think there is any particular rule or principle of English that can be learnt from this example, except that sometimes people change their mind as they are writing.


Without even touching on the technical side of your question I think this question is fairly easy to answer.

The basic fact is that British English has absorbed, or is absorbing, many aspects, uses and even spellings of American English. Somethings that are commonly spoken today and hence (possibly correctly) accepted by the British, would not have been acceptable when there was only one channel on the TV and most homes did not have one. However, today is a different time and the influence of American English has spread across the World. All languages develop and rightly so but to us older users some of the American grammar and spellings still make us cringe, whilst most of the Australian English use make us smile :). Hope that explains things a little, cobber

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