Which sentence is correct:

The equipment used for both boats is similar.
The equipment used for both boats are similar.

  • [Equipment set A] (used for boat A) is similar to [equipment set B] (used for boat B).
    – Pockets
    Aug 15, 2014 at 6:45
  • Yes. There is a problem here in that 'equipment' is a mass noun, and though the first sentence above is acceptable, 'The equipment used on the first boat is similar to that used on the second' 'semi-countifies' (separates into two masses) in a rather more satisfying way to my ears. Aug 15, 2014 at 9:22

1 Answer 1


Although collective nouns are often used with plural verbs these days, the correct usage is collective noun + single tense verb. How often does one hear "the government hate refugees". It should be "the government hates refugees". Many people mistake the usage, thinking that the collective noun has an understood part of the phrase missing. (the members of) the government hate refugees.

In your case, (the pieces of) equipment used for both boats are similar is the incorrect concept. Hope this makes sense.

  • 1
    The important point is that the subject of the verb is the equipment, not both boats
    – jimsug
    Aug 15, 2014 at 5:20
  • 'The correct usage is collective noun + single tense verb.' Wikipedia does not presume to the role of Grammar Czar: '...[I]t is generally accepted [by some] that collective nouns can take either singular or plural verb forms depending on the context and the metonymic shift that it implies. For example, "the team is in the dressing room" ... refers to the team as an ensemble, while "the team are fighting among themselves" (notional agreement) refers to the team as individuals.' So 'One preferred usage is ...' is correct. 'The correct usage' isn't. Aug 15, 2014 at 9:14
  • Also, 'equipment' is not a collective noun, any more than 'furniture' or 'water' or 'clothing'. It's a mass / non-count noun. A pride (of lions), a group (of people, say), a government (composed of politicians), a team ... are collective nouns. Aug 15, 2014 at 9:24

You must log in to answer this question.