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Be Careful With Plurals in Headlines

There are two problems in this headline
Together as One Combined Security Forces Assists Local Village

This is why Del Marbrook suggests you read your headline aloud.
I am a word reader, not a skimmer, so these jump out at me.
Many people, even editors, skim read. When you skim, you can easily miss errors.

The first problem in that headline is the plurals.
If it was a Force, then you would say it Assists the village
but if it is Forces, then you would say they Assist the Village

So the headline could have been one of these

Together as One Combined Security Forces Assist Local Village
or
Together as One Combined Security Force Assists Local Village

It is more complex than choosing one over the other, though, because the sentence needs a comma to read correctly.

Together as One, Combined Security Force Assists Local Village

Once you add the comma, the headline makes sense and then it tells you which plural to use. The difference is subtle.

There are two security forces – Americans and Iraqis
When combined, they are a force – acting as one (hopefully)
They are a Combined Security Force, so I used “Force Assists”

Without the adjective “Combined,” Forces Assist would also work, but the whole idea of their work is unity, and combined means “made or joined or united into one,” so that tells us it must be Force (singular).

Together as One, Combined Security Force Assists Local Village

That’s it, I hope that helps you to make better headlines.



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