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The noun minutes–the one that refers to “a summary or record of what is said or decided at a formal meeting”–is plural. Yup, even if we’re talking about one record covering one meeting.

 

Why? Because it is an aggregate noun. So what? The word aggregate refers to a “whole formed by combining several elements that are typically disparate,” i.e., elements that are different in kind. (I’d like to think of these elements as “hiwalayable.” :D)

 

In grammar, an aggregate noun is a single collection made up of individual parts. It is plural because each part is considered distinct, separable and equally significant. Unlike a collective noun, an aggregate noun cannot be used with a or an and often uses a plural form.

 

Examples: With the development of the Internet, communications are being revolutionized at a dizzying speed. The headquarters are ready for the chief’s retirement. Congratulations are in order. The stairs need repairs.

 

I think that the word minutes collects all the minutes spent at the meeting but considers each minute significant and separable, hence, the collection is treated as plural.

 

Some aggregate nouns are singular in form but still use plural verbs.

 

Examples: The police are still looking for the Olympic Park bomber. The people are excited about the upcoming concert. The clergy were ready for the TV crew.

 

Some aggregate nouns can use either singular or plural verb forms.

 

Examples: The data [is/are] inconclusive on that point. (Note: Modern usage often treats data as singular.)

The laity [has/have] played an important role in the history of the church.

 

 

References: The New Oxford-American Dictionary, Learner’s Dictionary, Oxford Learner’s Dictionary

Photo credit: DriverLayer.com

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5 thoughts on “Minutes: Singular or Plural?

  1. Hi Miss Janet, 

    have a good day…

    i just need some help from you.

    sorry but it was a bit urgent, because tomorrow

    im going to present in front of my big boss and i am not used to it. 

    I just wondering if you can help me how to make or create an authentic message only for 5 minutes regarding my position being trained for a higher position in my job? 

    Thanks a lot!!!

    yours, 

    grace chica

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    From:”Using a Borrowed Language” Date:Mon, May 4, 2015 at 1:35 Subject:[New post] Minutes: Singular or Plural?

    Janet posted: “The noun minutes–the one that refers to “a summary or record of what is said or decided at a formal meeting”–is plural. Yup, even if we’re talking about one record covering one meeting.   Why? Because it is an aggregate noun. So what? The wor”

    • Hi, Grace! I’m so sorry for missing your note. I have been very busy because we left last Thursday for the U.S. I am here now for training. I hope your presentation went well. I receive many requests, actually, and I wish I have enough time to answer and help all; regrettably, I have very limited time. That’s actually one reason why I created this blog–so I could help more with my posts since I don’t have time to address each request. :( So sorry!

  2. Ma’am Janet,

    Which is correct? My 8 points go to … Or goes to …? The judges at Your Face Sounds Familiar do not seem to agree on a common usage.
    Thanks!

    • Hmmm. I’d probably say, “My 8 points goes to…” because I’ll be referring to the score of 8 points (treating 8 points as one, unitary score, that is, “forming a single or uniform entity”).

      But if the judges were referring to each individual point, then they can use the plural “go” as if saying, “All the points (not just one but all) go to …”

      It would then depend on what the judges mean.

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