Verbs in board paper recommendations

By Mary Morel | 14 July 2013

writing recommendations for board papers

When reading board papers, I see verbs used with and without an ‘s’ in recommendations.

It is recommended that the Board approves the policy.
It is recommended that the Board approve the policy.

Which is your preference and why?

You can use either.

Those who choose approves do so on the basis that the Board is a singular entity and so takes a singular verb.

Those who choose approve may do so because it sounds OK. It is also grammatically correct because it’s the mandative subjunctive.

The mandative subjunctive is used with clauses that often, but not always, begin with that and express a demand, requirement, request, recommendation or suggestion.

It is recommended that the Board approve the policy.
I demand that he give me the book.
I suggest she leave the country.

The mandative subjunctive uses the base form of the verb (note, approve, discuss) with singular subjects, such as a board or committee.

Some people may also choose approve because the board is made up of several people. This choice is contentious because ‘board’ is a collective noun (singular noun representing a group of individuals or objects). Collective nouns can take either a singular or plural verb depending on whether the group is acting as an entity or a group of individuals. With recommendations, the board is most commonly regarded as a singular entity.

So what form of the verb will you use in future recommendations? Third person singular or the mandative subjunctive? The important thing is to be consistent.