Is “Wildlife” Singular or Plural?

Many visitors come to Words4Wildlife looking for the answer to this question: Is “wildlife” singular or plural? In other words, when we use “wildlife” as the subject of a sentence, should it take a singular or plural verb?

“Wildlife” is not an easy word to work with. It looks singular, like “cat.” Unlike “cat,” “wildlife” does not become plural when an “s” is added on the end. Yet there are times when “wildlife” is plural, depending on the meaning it’s supposed to convey.

Nouns such as “wildlife” are tricky, because in order to match them to a correct verb form, you can’t just look at the word. You have to look at the sentence, and think about its intended meaning.

If the meaning of the sentence indicates that you’re considering wildlife collectively, as a whole group, the correct verb form is singular: “wildlife is.” This usually happens when you’re thinking of wildlife as a concept: the aggregate of non-human animals. An example would be, “Wildlife is all around us.”

If the meaning of the sentence indicates that you’re considering the actions of individual members of the group, actions that may differ from each other, use a plural verb form: “wildlife are.” An example would be, “Some wildlife are known to behave aggressively toward humans, though this is rare.”

It is far more common for “wildlife to take a singular rather than a plural verb.
In fact, if you find yourself wanting to match “wildlife to a plural verb such as “are, it may be better to replace “wildlife with more specific words, such as “some animals.

As you’ve seen, there are some helpful questions to consider when deciding whether to use a singular or plural verb form with “wildlife.” Ask yourself: Am I talking about wildlife as a concept? As a whole group? Then use “wildlife is.” Or am I talking about an action taken by some, but not all, wildlife? Use “wildlife are” or revise the sentence to use a word other than “wildlife” (e.g., “Some animals are known to behave aggressively.”)

If you’re thinking about individual members of the group, which may act differently from other members, the verb form should be plural. If you’re thinking of the whole group, stick with the singular verb form.

I hope you find this information helpful!

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