Collective nouns - The board of directors <govern, governs> ...

Hotmale

Senior Member
Polish
Hello,
I've read this sentence is my text book and I wonder whether "govern" is the right form here. Shouldn't it be "governs"?

Here is the sentence:
"The structure, procodures and work of the board of directors, which as a body govern the company, are derermined by the company's articles of association."

Thank you
 
  • Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Hello,
    I've read this sentence is my text book and I wonder whether "govern" is the right form here. Shouldn't it be "governs"?

    Here is the sentence:
    "The structure, procodures and work of the board of directors, which, as a body, governs the company, are derermined by the company's articles of association."

    Thank you
    Yes, you're correct. I've just done some text editing this very morning where this error kept cropping up - the singular/plural issue often seems confusing to people in a sentence structured this way.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Aha - very good question.
    I think this sentence has fallen into a trap.

    One half of the writer is thinking of the board of directors as a set of people, and therefore sometimes plural (in BE).

    The other half of the writer is thinking of the board of directors as an inanimate entity, and therefore uses which as a relative pronoun.

    Even in BE, you can't do both at the same time.

    I can imagine your next post telling me this came from an extremely reputable source and that I'm talking nonsense.
     

    Hotmale

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Hi,
    I thought that "a body" refers to "the board of directors", which governs a company. Structures or proceures cannot govern anything, they can only be used in order to govern a company.

    Because "the board of directors" is used as a collective noun, and "which" is used instead of "who" therefore I think that "govern" should be used in 3 person singular.

    But I have doubts :)

    Best regards
     

    Hotmale

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Aha - very good question.
    I think this sentence has fallen into a trap.

    One half of the writer is thinking of the board of directors as a set of people, and therefore sometimes plural (in BE).

    The other half of the writer is thinking of the board of directors as an inanimate entity, and therefore uses which as a relative pronoun.

    Even in BE, you can't do both at the same time.

    I can imagine your next post telling me this came from an extremely reputable source and that I'm talking nonsense.
    Hi Panjandrum,

    your post was sent a few times quicker than mine :)
    The sentence comes from "Intenational Legal English" published by Cambridge University Press.
     
    Hello,
    I've read this sentence is my text book and I wonder whether "govern" is the right form here. Shouldn't it be "governs"?

    Here is the sentence:
    "The structure, procedures, and work of the board of directors, which, as a body, governs the company, are determined by the company's articles of association."

    Thank you
    I think it should be governs, too because the board of directors is the noun in question. The board of directors governs the company.

    Maybe not. The plural in question could be "the structure, procedures, and work" govern.... They are described by "a body" which is called the board of directors...and are determined, not is determined by the company's articles...

    It's a bit ambiguous on what noun(s) they are using because of how many there are and how many further descriptors there are between the noun and the verb.
     

    Hotmale

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Yes, you're correct. I've just done some text editing this very morning where this error kept cropping up - the singular/plural issue often seems confusing to people in a sentence structured this way.
    Thanks, Dimcl :) .
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I am still convinced that "which as a body ....." refers specifically to the board of directors. If you want to stick with which, then you need to say which as a body governs ... .
    If you want to change to write "... who as a body ...." referring to the board of directors, you should write, who as a body govern ... .

    Hi Panjandrum,

    your post was sent a few times quicker than mine :)
    The sentence comes from "Intenational Legal English" published by Cambridge University Press.
    Thank you, Hotmale, for your courtesy in not fulfilling the second part of my prediction - that you would tell me I was talking nonsense :D
     

    jennijenni

    Senior Member
    American English (AE) / USA
    Hello,
    I've read this sentence is my text book and I wonder whether "govern" is the right form here. Shouldn't it be "governs"?

    Here is the sentence:
    "The structure, procodures and work of the board of directors, which as a body govern the company, are derermined by the company's articles of association."

    Thank you
    Yes, it should definitely be "governs." The subject is "body." There should be no additional commas in the phrase "which as a body governs the company."

    I would like the mention that, in the US, we do not say "Articles of Association." We say "Articles of Incorporation." Furthermore, in the US (in most states), a company can be member-managed or manager-managed. The members are the owners of the company. The managers are the managers of the company. When you incorporate in the US, you are required to declare in your Articles of Incorporation which option you have chosen. Some small business owners choose "member-managed" to ensure that they will retain control even if they back away from the day-to-day operation of their businsses. Larger corporations often choose "manager-managed" due to the sheer size of the company. A US lawyer could probably provide further insight.

    ("Derermined" in your original message should have been "determined." Just a heads-up.)
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Hello,
    I've read this sentence is my text book and I wonder whether "govern" is the right form here. Shouldn't it be "governs"?

    Here is the sentence:
    "The structure, procedures and work of the board of directors, which as a body governs the company, are determined by the company's articles of association."

    Thank you
    If we do some editing and get rid of the unnecessary jargon (as above), we are talking about a singular "board", hence "governs".

    This is typical "legalese" and the words "as a body" are totally unnecessary and removing them simply clarifies the singular nature of the board.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top