Should I Write “Agenda Is” or “Agenda Are”? Navigating Grammar in American English

Marcus Froland

Grammar can be tricky, especially when it comes to words that don’t follow the usual rules. You’ve probably found yourself in a situation where you’re typing away, and suddenly, you hit a roadblock. That moment when you’re not sure if the sentence should flow with “is” or take a turn with “are“. It’s even more challenging with words that seem like they could go either way.

Take “agenda” for example. It sounds like it could summon either singular or plural treatment without much fuss. But here’s the catch – English is full of surprises, and sometimes, what seems obvious isn’t correct. So, before you make your next move in writing that perfect sentence, hold tight. We might have just the insight you need to clear this up once and for all.

When deciding between “agenda is” or “agenda are,” it’s important to know that “agenda” is a plural word that comes from Latin. Despite its plural origins, in modern English, we treat “agenda” as a singular noun when talking about a list of tasks or goals. So, the correct way to use it in a sentence is with “is.” For example, you would say, “The agenda for today’s meeting is on the table.” This rule applies because we think of an agenda as one set of items or list, not multiple lists.

Understanding “Agenda”: Singular or Plural?

In contemporary English language usage, the word “agenda” should be used as a singular noun. It was originally the Latin plural form of “agendum” but has transitioned to be treated as a singular concept representing a list of things to consider or address. This singular usage parallels how one would use other singular nouns, such as ‘list.’ For instance, in sentences like “The agenda is on the second page,” “agenda” refers to a singular set of items, thereby necessitating a singular verb.

When using “agenda,” remember to treat it as a singular noun in modern English.

There is a widespread misconception that “agenda” should be treated as a plural noun due to its historical Latin context. In present-day usage, however, it has decidedly become a singular noun, and this movement can be attributed to the gradual decline of Latin instruction within the national curriculum.

To better understand how “agenda” is used, consider the following examples:

  • The agenda is on the second page.
  • Your agenda is quite full today.
  • The meeting agenda is as follows.

In each of these examples, “agenda” refers to a single list or collection of items and is therefore appropriately combined with a singular verb.

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When referring to multiple agendas, the plural form “agendas” should be employed:

  1. The conference has several agendas.
  2. Each committee has its own agenda.
  3. They discussed their respective agendas during the call.

In summary, while it is important to recognize the plural Latin origins of the word “agenda,” it is essential to apply the term as a singular noun in contemporary English usage. By consistently adhering to this rule, your writing will remain clear, concise, and grammatically correct.

The Transition from Latin to Modern Usage of “Agenda”

The transition from Latin to English has led to a change in the usage of the word “agenda.” As Latin education became less common, the multiplicity implied by the original Latin plural form began to fade away. In present-day English, the singular “agenda” dominates, reflecting its most common usage as a singular entity—a list of actionable or discussable items. This shift mirrors a broader linguistic evolution where Latin-derived words often adopt singular forms despite their plural origins.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of Latin-derived words and their contemporary usage:

Latin-derived Word Original Latin Form Modern English Usage
Agenda Agendum (plural: Agenda) Singular (plural: Agendas)
Criteria Criterion (plural: Criteria) Singular and Plural
Media Medium (plural: Media) Singular and Plural
Data Datum (plural: Data) Singular and Plural

As Latin began to lose its grip on mainstream academia, many of these plurals started to adjust to singular forms. For instance, the original term “agendum” was commonly used to indicate the singular form but has since been replaced by “agenda” in modern English. Context now plays a pivotal role in determining whether Latin-derived words should be treated as singular or plural.

“The decline of Latin instruction within the national curriculum has led to its plural protections being gradually abandoned.”

By understanding these linguistic nuances and the factors that contribute to their evolution, you can make informed decisions on how to use Latin-derived words correctly in the contemporary English language.

Comparing “Agenda” to Other Latin-derived English Words

It is essential to understand how other Latin-derived English words have also evolved in usage to provide context for the shift in the application of “agenda.” In this section, we will analyze the usage of “criteria,” “media,” and “data” to appreciate their similarities and differences in the context of “agenda.”

“Agenda” vs. “Criteria”: A Tale of Two Plurals

While “agenda” has transitioned to singular usage, “criteria” maintains a balance between singular and plural usage due to the prevailing application of its singular counterpart, “criterion.” Like “agenda,” “criteria” originated from Latin as a plural form but differs in that it is widely acknowledged in both singular and plural contexts. However, the singular use of “criteria” can irritate some language purists, making it advisable to utilize the technically correct “criterion” for the singular form.

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Is “Media” Singular or Plural? Insights into Collective Nouns

As a collective noun derived from the Latin plural of ‘medium,’ media has acquired flexibility in modern English. Depending on the context, it can be used either as singular or plural. If a sentence does not emphasize individual mediums within the collective media, it should be treated as a singular noun. Nevertheless, both “media is” and “media are” are common in usage, reflecting the transitional nature of such collective nouns.

“Data Is” or “Data Are”? How Usage Evolves Over Time

The term “data” shares a similar journey to “agenda” from plural to singular usage. Initially treated as a plural word derived from the Latin “datum,” “data” has experienced a semantic shift and is now more commonly understood as a collection of information or details. Consequently, it has been used with a singular verb. Although contemporary scientific and academic writing may still treat “data” as plural, the evolution towards singular usage aligns with the public’s perception and use of the term “information.”

In summary, observing the evolution of Latin-derived English words such as “criteria,” “media,” and “data” leads to a better understanding of the language’s fluidity and grounds the transition of “agenda” from plural to singular usage.

How to Use “Agenda” Correctly in a Sentence

Using the word “agenda” correctly in a sentence involves treating it as a singular noun and pairing it with an appropriate singular verb. This is crucial for maintaining the subject-verb agreement in the context of “agenda.” Let’s dive into some examples to clearly understand proper usage:

  1. For instances where you’re referring to a single list of items to be discussed or actions to be taken, use the word “agenda” with the singular verb “is.” For example: The agenda is on the second page.
  2. When referring to multiple lists of items in separate contexts, use the plural form “agendas” and pair it with the appropriate plural verb. For example: All the agendas are displayed on the screen.

These examples demonstrate the proper alignment of subject-verb agreement while using “agenda” in a sentence. By consistently treating “agenda” as a singular noun, you convey clarity and ensure the correct grammar usage.

Remember: Align “agenda” with a singular verb such as “is” for subject-verb agreement.

With the proper usage of “agenda” and its plural counterpart “agendas” in mind, you can confidently construct grammatically correct sentences that convey your intended meaning. Mastering these nuances goes a long way in improving writing proficiency and effectively expressing ideas within different contexts.

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Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

As a speaker of English, you might sometimes find yourself misusing “agenda” by treating it as a plural noun. This mistake often stems from the word’s Latin origins. To avoid such errors, remember that “agenda” is now considered a singular noun in English and should always be used with a singular verb, like “is.” For example, you should say, “The agenda is as follows.”

Even though “agenda” was initially a plural form in Latin, its modern usage consistently functions as a singular noun in English. Staying informed about the current usage of these Latin-derived words will help you avoid the misconceptions that often follow the pluralization of these terms.

To further hone your grammar and ensure proper use, consider researching the modern usage of other Latin-derived words like “criteria,” “media,” and “data.” Like “agenda,” many words have undergone semantic shifts, evolving from their original plural forms to acquire new uses in contemporary English. Knowing how these words have evolved will not only improve your writing but also help you educate others about these intriguing grammar nuances.