Confusion of singularity and plurality


I just encountered this question:

It is imperative that every manager clearly ........ to all members of the organization what the purpose of the organization really is

a/ communicate

b/ communicates

c/ communicated

d/ communication

I thought "every manager" is a singular noun, so the answer would be communicates, but then I saw the answer, it's communicates ?!

I just can't get it. Someone please shed some light for me on this question.

Thanks in advance.


Posted 2015-01-09T13:37:16.417

Reputation: 113

I think you may have a typo - you thought the answer was communicates, and the answer is communicates, so I'm not sure what the trouble is. – ColleenV – 2015-01-09T13:42:53.917

1You can't get that your answer is the same as the supposed answer? That seems very fatalistic... please edit your question to tell us what your actual problem is. Although I would assume the given correct answer is communicate, because the imperative would warrant a subjunctive. – oerkelens – 2015-01-09T14:00:04.663

@oerkelens oh! that is new to me :O please tell me the grammar section to read as to learn about which words need a subjunctive. – Man_From_India – 2015-01-09T14:19:16.383

yeah, you are true @oerkelens, I just googled "subjunctive", indeed, I have never heard of it before. By the way, my problem is why the answer is a verb in its plural form for a singular subject. Now I got it, thank you :) – LeoLink – 2015-01-09T14:42:18.170

@Man_From_India I found this: ;)

– LeoLink – 2015-01-09T14:42:59.587

@LeoLink Thank you for the link, i will have a look at it later :) – Man_From_India – 2015-01-09T14:46:08.400



There are two potential answers depending on formality (and to some extent region). Certainly neither c) nor d) is correct.

a) communicate this would be the more formal/traditional use. This sentence would then be using the present subjunctive to indicate an obligation or command.

It is important that he arrive on time

Compared to the equivalent indicative expression

He arrives late each day

This distinction is only noticeable in the 3rd person singular (since that is the only form which has a -s on it for the indicative) and when using the verb "to be"

It is important that he be here at 8.

This is less seen now apart from more formal places

b) communicates is the less formal, more modern variant, which matches since the "every manager" is singular. If the subject was "All managers" then it would be "communicate".


Posted 2015-01-09T13:37:16.417

Reputation: 4 363


It's imperative that every manager clearly ...... to all members of the organization what the purpose of the organization really is.

As the subordinate clause in the sentence is in the subjunctive, we must use "communicate" in the sentence; the use of a, c, and d is wrong. The subjunctive mood occurs not only in the sentences with conditional clauses contrary to fact but also in subordinate clauses expressing wish, suggestion, demand, recommendation, etc. When doing so, "s/es" with bare infinitive for the third person is not used. Some examples are as follows:

  • it's important (that) each of us work hard.

  • I suggest (that) he go with us.

  • He demands that the employer increase his salary.


Posted 2015-01-09T13:37:16.417

Reputation: 26 261

I'd like to accept your answer but @eques gave a pretty correct(I think) answer first, so I'll accept his/her answer, but still thank you :) – LeoLink – 2015-01-10T13:53:41.697