Media (Singular or Plural?)

Should I write "the media is" or "the media are"?

"Media" is a collective noun, which means you can treat it as singular or plural depending on the sense of your sentence. If your sentence does not convey the idea of lots of individuals within the media, then you should treat "media" as singular.
media is or media are? (singular or plural?)

Is "Media" Singular or Plural?

"Media" derives from the Latin plural of "medium." However, it does not follow that "media" should always be treated as a plural word in modern English. "Media" is no longer the plural of "medium." The plural of "medium" is "mediums."

The Quick Answer

When "media" refers to the press or broadcasters, it is treated as a collective noun. This means it should be treated as singular, unless the context demands it be treated as plural (e.g., "The media were heading north and east.").

More about the Word "Media"

The word "media" now means:
  • "Those who message through television, radio, the printed press or the electronic "press" (i.e., the internet)."
  • (Using this definition, "media" is a collective noun, i.e., a word that represents a group of people, animals, or things.)
As "media" is a collective noun (just like the words "team" and "jury"), writers should treat it as singular unless the "media" in their sentence considers the media as lots of separate entities. For example:
  • The media are present with vans, lorries, scooters, and bicycles. correct tick
  • (This sentence considers the media as lots of separate entities.)
  • The media is present. correct tick
  • (This sentence considers the media as one entity.)
Read more about treating collective nouns as singular or plural.

It's Plural!

As the word "media" comes from the Latin plural of "medium," some of your readers might expect you to treat it as a plural noun. However, its meaning has changed from the days when it was the plural of "medium." Nowadays, "media" can safely be considered a collective noun. Therefore, you should treat it as singular unless your sentence conveys the idea of lots of individuals within the media, in which case you should treat it as plural.
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This page was written by Craig Shrives.