Singular Versus Plural – The Collective Company and the Pronoun

Posted: December 10th, 2013, 7:29 pm   By: brittany.corners

A common mistake in writing for Midwest is in attributing the correct pronoun to a company. If you struggle with this, you are not alone. The most important thing to remember is that a company is a collective, singular noun. This may seem confusing as companies generally consist of different divisions and multiple employees. However, the company itself is singular; as such, it demands the use of a singular pronoun. Here is an example to illustrate the correct way to apply a singular pronoun.

Good: With its great pay and willingness to communicate with writers, Midwest is the best requester on Mechanical Turk.

Bad: With their great pay and willingness to communicate with writers, Midwest is the best requester on Mechanical Turk.

In the above example, Midwest is a collective, singular noun. “Its” is the correct pronoun to apply. Yes, Midwest consists of many great people who interact with you, but those people are collectively considered the company itself unless they are specifically identified as the noun in question. In this next example, the difference is demonstrated with a properly applied plural pronoun that applies to a plural noun.

Good: The in-house editors at Midwest are the best; they answer writer questions promptly and award bonuses for consistently-excellent work.

Bad: The in-house editors at Midwest are best; it answers writer questions promptly and award bonuses for consistently-excellent work.

See the difference? “In-house editors at Midwest” is a plural noun that warrants a plural pronoun. Midwest itself is a company that is a singular noun. When you are writing e-commerce paragraphs or articles that reference a company name, remember it is “its” not “theirs” when applying pronouns.