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Consider the sentence:

The trout that swim in the center of the river keep themselves safe.

The main subject is "trout" which is single, but the main verb is "keep". Shouldn't the sentence be:

The trout that swims in the center of the river keeps themselves safe.

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    The answer by @YIDAN LI is correct in explaining that the sample text is correct. That is, "keep" agrees with "trout", because "trout", in that context, is plural. So what exactly is your question?
    – tkp
    Dec 3, 2022 at 6:17
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    "Trout" is both singular and plural for agreement purposes. There is no inflected plural form "trouts".
    – BillJ
    Dec 3, 2022 at 8:20
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    If you intend trout to be singular, it would be keeps itself safe. Dec 3, 2022 at 9:05
  • The reflexive pronoun "themselves" can only refer to a plural antecedent. "Trout" is plural.
    – gotube
    Dec 3, 2022 at 19:05

4 Answers 4

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The plural form of "trout" is also "trout". As with many names of animals, the plural form is the same as the singular (compare, for example "sheep", "deer" or "fish")

In this case the word "trout" is plural, so has a plural third-person verb "keep" and "swim".

There is, unfortunately, no way to know which animal words are unchanged in the plural. Here is a partial list

The plural form of "trout" is also "trout". As with many names of animals, the plural form is the same as the singular (compare, for example "sheep", "deer" or "fish")

In this case the word "trout" is plural, so has a plural third-person verb "keep" and "swim".

There is, unfortunately, no way to know which animal words are unchanged in the plural. Here is a partial list

  • Deer
  • Moose
  • Salmon
  • Fish
  • Sheep
  • Trout
  • Bison
  • Swine

Some of these also have regular plural (fishes, swines) with nuanced difference (fishes may refer to different type of fish, swines is more likely to be used when using the word as an insult rather than literally)

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the plural form is also trout or trouts

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  • please take a singular noun as an example then what happened to this sentence ? like " the alligator that swim in the center of the river keep themselves safe". Dec 3, 2022 at 5:28
  • Unfortunately "alligator" can also be read as plural. You could use "cat" to be clear it is singular (however that does raise a question as to why a cat is swimming in the center of a river!)
    – tkp
    Dec 3, 2022 at 6:13
  • @tkp ok ...take shark as an example then what happend......... Dec 3, 2022 at 6:26
  • Gosh, I'm wondering if perhaps sea animals are peculiar in that their singular form can always be used as plural. But for argument's sake, assume that "shark" is definitely singular. Well then, yes, the sentence, "The shark that swims in the center of the river keep themselves safe" would be incorrect. The third person singular form of the verb "to keep" is "keeps", and that, it "keep", is what is needed.
    – tkp
    Dec 3, 2022 at 6:38
  • just check the dictionary
    – MER
    Dec 3, 2022 at 6:46
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The first sentence is correct, but it could be considered a little awkward. I had to read it twice to check it was actually OK, and that is generally never a good thing in English.

I think the issue is that it doesn't need the definite article "The". Trout (plural) can be used without an article here to mean all trout in general.

Trout that swim in the centre of the river keep themselves safe.

Your suggested rewording however is incorrect. Single "trout" can't be referred to as "themselves" because this is a plural form. Use "itself" instead. I think it might also be better to use the indefinite article "A" here, to show that it refers to any trout, not just one specific trout.

A trout that swims in the centre of the river keeps itself safe.

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The original phrasing is the right one, since "trout" here refers to a herd. As happens with many animal species (fish, sheep, wild game), especially the ones considered as a consumable commodity. Technically, though, it is not a collective/mass noun, given that you can still use it for an individual too ("That trout is the largest I've ever seen").

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