English Grammar

Have or Has?

I have just studied the Delavigne Connection (Scene 1-2) and in the first part I found this sentence:

The board of trustees have decided to commission a novel

I would have said : The board of trustees HAS decided to commission a novel, for board is in singular.

Why should we use HAVE in this case?
Thank you


  • I think both can be said, but indeed "has" gives the impression of a common decision.
  • Hi Olga,

    Good question! The rules for subject-verb agreement with certain nouns are different in British English than they are in American English.

    In American English, the board of trustees would be considered a singular noun, and therefore taking the auxiliary 'has', while in British English, because the board of trustees can be considered a collective group, they would use 'have'. Oftentimes, both terms are acceptable.

    Other nouns which are considered collective: police, government, team etc.

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